August 16, 2008

Talent or skill, part 2

For more on the discussion about talent vs. skill, or experience vs. practice, here's some research from the BPS Research Digest blog on the musical ability and practice habits of 200+ musicians and their level of musical achievement.

"Results were mixed. Among the high-school band members, musical achievement was predicted by practice, but also by general intelligence and musical aptitude (in terms of tone and rhythm perception skills). Moreover, all three of these factors were higher among the elite conservatory members, thus suggesting that musical achievement rests on a mixture of hard work and inherent talent.

However, among just the elite conservatory musicians, it was practice habits alone that differentiated the very highest achievers from the less successful. This suggests that once a certain amount of innate talent is in place, only practice makes the difference to the ultimate degree of success obtained."

Go read the article and see what you think: Is practice enough, or do you have to start out talented?

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