TOP 10 GUITAR LESSONS MYTH #8| You Either Have Talent or You Don’t | FALSE!

In guitar lessons I deal with the core assumption that can really impede your progress:  “Well I wasn’t born with musical talent so I’m not sure how much of this I’m going to be able to do.”   I don’t have the kind of talent that Jimmy Page or Jimi Hendrix or whoever has so I don’t know how well I’ll be able to play.”  The myth of “talent” is a really interesting one because we all believe that you either have musical talent or you don’t: at some point I think all of us have thought that.  But as more research actually shows, excellence and mastery of anything really has to do with the amount of time invested and the critical “tipping point” to borrow from  Malcolm Gladwell is 10,000 hours invested.This has profound implications for guitar instruction .

Invest 10,000 hours into anything and suddenly you are an expert and the research quoted is really fascinating.  They do studies on violinists and they look at the ones who were acceptable, and then the ones who were good enough to get the teaching job to work in academics, all the way up to the ones who were performing at the highest level and getting critical acclaim.  And without exception, it was completely a function of how much practice each group invested. According to Gladwell’s book, there actually were no exceptions to this!  In other words the person that may have had a natural proclivity or seemed to be more “talented” in fact just practiced a lot more than the other people in the other groups did.  Another Book called “This is your brain on music” promotes the same thesis and this has a lot of implications for guitar students taking guitar lessons.

None other than distinguished actor Harrison Ford says that 90% of what he does his craftsmanship only 10% of his acting is actually “art” or creativity.  This means really anyone can learn the skills and what separates “average” from “good” and “great” is simply a function of hours invested.  In fact when I was in med school which I did some time ago for the first two years of it before deciding to change career course, we actually got to disscet the brain of a virtuoso violinist who had donated his body to science.  And what the professors told us was the part of the motor cortex that controls the hand and was actually enlarged relative to the average person.  So there is a neurophysiological change that goes on as we practice guitar: it develops those motor neuron connections in more sophisticated ways.  So I really can’t stress enough to decouple yourself from the social conditioning once again that talent is what matters; it simply doesn’t and the quote from President Woodrow Wilson really speaks to that.   If you only take one thing from your time with me learning guitar ,  if you remember nothing else from guitar lessons , I hope it’s not a scale or lick or your favorite song.  I hope it will be this quote.

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; un- rewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination are omnipotent. The slogan press on has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.

– Calvin Coolidge


Play it your way.

The Cypher way.

Rock on.

Jimmy Cypher out!