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A Star is Made

MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
edited June 2006 in Welcome Posts: 5,854
For those of you who think Django, Bireli, Stochelo, etc were just "born" with the ability to play, see this:

A Star Is Made


  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    Michael, cool article. Whats cool is my friend is a Ph.D student here at FSU and works with the Prof. they site. kind of cool.
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 5,854
    tell your friend they should use some Gypsy jazz guitarists as test subjects!
  • CalebFSUCalebFSU Tallahassee, FLModerator Made in USA Dell Arte Hommage
    Posts: 557
    I sent her the article and we discussed it, although I have no idea how much she will listen to me.
    Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn't work hard.
  • langleydjangolangleydjango Langley, WA USA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 99
    This ties in with my theory on learning Gypsy Jazz. It actually could apply to most art forms but I find it fits well with GJ.

    THEORY--It takes about 3000 hours of directed (self or otherwise) practice to become an "average/good" Gypsy Jazz player.-----

    If we do the math: @ 10 hours a day=1 year
    1 hour a day=10 years

    This means 10 hours a day of practice, not noodling, specific practice.

    Look at the players- Jimmy Rosenberg probably got in his 3000 hours by the time he was 9, same with Bireli. Others got there a bit later ala Andreas, Angelo, etc. (No offense meant to either of these players if I'm wrong, I haven't heard any recordings of Andreas when he was 11:)

    Anyone reading this post can do the same thing. But, unfortunately, most can't (most common, of course) or don't make the commitment. It means
    playing guitar is your LIFE. Work (if neccessary) gets you fed, every other minute is guitar.

    Some are lucky enough to be able to cut some time off because of guitar skills acquired in another/parallel form of music. Again I look at Andreas-
    a monster guitarist who can take his skills with him from one form to another. (I know Andreas reads this forum so I'd be happy to hear how close or far off the mark I might be. This is all said with the deepest admiration).

    30 minutes a day=20 years, even longer if you're just jamming along to a Minor Swing Backing track.

    So next time you think "I could never play like Angelo!" try to remember it's less because he's a god sent down from on high and more because he did the time.
  • pallopennapallopenna Rhode IslandNew
    Posts: 245
    The hypothesis that you've put forward is an interesting one. However, there is another factor that most likely interacts with the amount of time needed to achieve a certain level of performance: age of onset. Ten years @ 1 hour a day starting before age (say) 16 will probably on average yield a different level of competence than the same amount of time spent in practice starting as an adult. There are well documented critical period effects in most every cognitive domain. The reasons for this are debated in the field, but one set of reasons has to do with limits on resource allocation. Other theories state (roughly) that learning expertise is an inverse function of the level of cognitive resources (memory, etc.) available at the onset of learning. This would ironically predict that the greater the level of cognitive resources available at task onset (i.e. learning), the less mastery (i.e. fluency) is possible. This is applicable to language learning (for which there are compelling data) - especially second language learning - but most likely has implications for music as well. Of course, it is a theory, not a truth.

    This is not to say that a good deal of expertise could be acheived with the right type and amount of practice. It is merely to state that the relative limits on expertise are also a function of the age when a skill is learned.

    Reject the null hypothesis.
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 422
    Paul and everyone-
    Mot of the studies I have read about this seem to indicate, at least in music that the conections need to be made- but the instrument is far less important (see S. wrembel who started on piano) then doing something musical with ones mind and ears. I love the idea that this is all about work; the more work you can do the better . . . so very cool.
  • scotscot Virtuoso
    Posts: 529
    For most of us, to really excel at anything requires plenty of hard work, and things like setting goals and receiving immediate feedback are absolutely necessary to improve - of course. It's why we have teachers and coaches - they help us to set goals and then provide us with evaluations. It's plain common sense. I'm curious, Ben. Why do you find the idea that "you work hard, you get better" to be so very cool? Were you taught somewhere that there's some other way to master difficult tasks?

    Another thing that seems to figure strongly in learning is the base of knowledge that a person already has. It's easier to learn the state capitals if you already know the names of all the states, easier to learn Spanish if you already know French, etc. It's easier to learn gypsy jazz if you already are a capable guitarist, if you already have a strong RH technique, if you already know the basics of harmony. In other words, the more you know, the easier it is to learn new things and techniques. At least it works that way for me...
  • langleydjangolangleydjango Langley, WA USA✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 99
    pallopenna wrote:
    However, there is another factor that most likely interacts with the amount of time needed to achieve a certain level of performance: age of onset. Ten years @ 1 hour a day starting before age (say) 16 will probably on average yield a different level of competence than the same amount of time spent in practice starting as an adult. -Paul

    I imagine this is true. When I see a teenage prodigy, in any art form, I don't automatically dismiss the possibility of genius but my first thought is- here is someone with almost unlimited time and nothing else to cut into that time (job, commuting, bill paying, everyday life). Not only do they not have to deal with any of that stuff they probably don't even realize these things exist.

    It's just pure study. Add in parental guidance, whip cracking, etc and you have a prodigy.

    Maybe all this is just wishful thinking on my part. I'm no longer 10 years old but I still plan on reaching a high skill level. If my theory is wrong I'm screwed :D
  • Ted GottsegenTed Gottsegen Rowayton, CTModerator
    Posts: 615
    I agree with Ben, it is very cool that the more work you put in, the better you become because it's a given. It's cause and effect personified. Granted there are caveats to this rule: your work needs to be deliberate. If part of your issue is playing in time (be it solo or rhythm) than you need to play with a metronome - a lot. This is not exactly the most exciting thing in the world, but if you put in that time correctly you will attain those goals whereas if you really like the way Angelo plays "Swing Gitan" and you're trying to learn it note for note, but your time isn't good and you're not as good technically, you will never play it well. You might know the notes, but you will never play well and you're not really learning anything anyway.


  • aa New York City✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 800
    i think that the environment also plays a huge factor in developing a skill. django came about in an age when live/acoustic/jam/improv music was one of the only ways to hear music. all of his skills and his voice were shaped by that. he got a lot of practice jamming with lots of people on many different tunes so he could, in a seemingly magical way, play along to any song without having heard it beforehand. i have a cousin who played in wedding bands for several years (back in the late seventies-eighties) when he was developing as a guitar player. as an accompanist, he can make anyone sound good and can play along to almost any song without having heard it.

    anyway, how does someone who is interested in developing a voice for live music (as complete as django's was) go about doing so when the prevalent musical environment has moved away from the nitty-gritty of acoustic music to what I can only describe as a music of broader strokes. i-tunes vs. growing up in a gypsy camp? how can we compete? i'd be interested to know how the gypsies they even use metronomes? do they do repetitive cycles of practicing the same phrase over and over again for half-an hour? do they just play with each other all day? any help is much appreciated.
    Learn how to play Gypsy guitar:
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