NoteBoat wrote: I was one of those that had to work at it. Ear training classes terrified me... I ended up always getting the best grades in the class, but only because I was so insecure about my ears that I put a lot more effort in than anybody else.
Very interesting point about the effort you put in. There are lots of possible motivators for that, but it seems to be an absolutely crucial factor.
There's a section in Malcolm Gladwell's book Outliers (about people who achieve unusually high standards) where he talks about some research done at a highly regarded music school (I think it was in Germany, but I've lent the book so I can't check right now). The researchers were looking for reasons why some students seemed like 'naturals' - the ones that seemed to cruise to the top of the pile as opposed to the 'grinders' who, while still talented, never reached the same peaks.
Apparently, they separated the subjects into three groups - those whose level of talent would be expected to lead to solo careers, those who would secure good orchestral positions (or similar) and those who would most likely gravitate to less performance oriented roles in the music business. They were hoping to find some describable difference in character or approach, but the overwhelming correlation that they found was simply how many hours they put in. If I remember rightly, in the early stages (as young kids) they all put in similar hours, but as time progressed some started putting in more and more time.
They were the violin students who never quite got down to the pub with the others because they couldn't bear to put down something interesting that they were working on - or, for that matter, they were also the kids in their bedrooms endlessly listening to their rock records and practising the riffs and chords over and over and over until they nailed it. The Lennons and McCartneys, etc.
So it seems that the ability to be highly motivated is a crucial factor. Perhaps it doesn't matter so much whether it's driven by curiosity, fear, love, obedience, insecurity, passion or just good old obsession, but you do need to put the hours in - with some sort of intensity.
Crow wrote:Everything else had come so easily, a bit of lazy arrogance had set in.
With general schoolwork I was like Crow - it all seemed to come pretty easy at first. Regularly top of the class, head of school, scholarship, etc - up until early teens. Then something drifted. Whatever natural passions and interest that had kept me afloat and on track got derailed. Without an established work ethic based timetable to follow, my results slid downwards - not to rock bottom, but out of the top rank.
I've done OK since, and had a very interesting life. But I can still see a direct link between my successes (in any endeavour) and finding out what the motivator is for me to keep concentrating long enough to get those all important hours in. It's what the tens of thousands of guitar students who quit every year either lose or never manage to find.