Bob Ross on Talent and Practice
Tuesday Quotes are short explorations of music, life, and the daily endeavor of practicing classical guitar. Enjoy!
“Talent is a pursued interest. Anything that you’re willing to practice, you can do.”
Many of us grew up believing that “talent” is something you either have or you don’t. It’s something some lucky people were born with. The rest of us “just aren’t talented.”
But talent is a myth. It’s a fancy word describing the outcome of practice.
A musician playing note-perfect Bach has “talent”. But even if we tie the most perfect knot, no one will ever tell us we have a “talent” for tying shoes. We do it well because we’ve done it enough times to master the skills involved.
Music is the same. If we put in time, we get better. This is true for us all.
That said, some people do seem to have an easier time of it than others.
This heightened engagement makes each lesson come quicker. It makes practice more fun. It leads to more practice, and quicker improvement.
The key to steady growth on our instruments is interest. As long as we stay engaged, we build the skills needed to meet new challenges. These new challenges pique our interest, and a virtuous cycle is born.
Instead of holding back because we lack “talent”, we can instead take responsibility.
We’re either interested and engaged or we’re not. If it’s something we’d like to do, then our job is to get interested and get engaged.
And we do this by looking closer at the details, asking questions, and trying new things.
Hi, I’m Allen Mathews.
I started as a folk guitarist, then fell in love with classical guitar in my 20’s. Despite a lot of practice and schooling, I still couldn’t get my music to flow well. I struggled with excess tension. My music sounded forced. And my hands and body were often sore. I got frustrated, and couldn’t see the way forward. Then, over the next decade, I studied with two other stellar teachers – one focused on the technical movements, and one on the musical (he was a concert pianist). In time, I came to discover a new set of formulas and movements. These brought new life and vitality to my practice. Now I help guitarists find more comfort and flow in their music, so they play more beautifully.
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Great advise here. I find I am taking more time with the pieces than I would have in the past as I am focusing on the technique you have taught me. It is slower going at first but has fewer frustrations, is easier and sounds better in the end.
Allen Mathews was recommended to me as somebody who could help me expand my guitar vocabulary. Allen started me on a really fun cycle of lessons and practice. He is a very good,and very enthusiastic teacher, and I feel that I'm on the road to learning. I couldn't be more pleased with my experience.
-Peter Buck (r.e.m.)
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