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Am I talented enough to learn Drums?

Am I talented enough to learn Drums?

First of all, I would like to talk about talent in general or question this term. Ultimately, however, the answer to the question, “Do I have enough talent to be a drummer?” should not stop anyone from learning this instrument. It also depends a lot on the goal you want to achieve. Becoming a world-class drummer requires hard work from a very young age, while amateur musicians require far less time and effort. Anyone can learn drums and constantly improve through focused, deliberate practice!

Tony Royster jr.

I would like to start with a so-called child prodigy on the drums:

Tony Royster Jr.:

– born on 9.9.1984

– son of guitarist and drummer Anthony Royster

– started playing drums at the age of 3

– having already won several competitions as a drummer, at the age of 12 he was invited to the Modern Drummer Festival in 1997, where this legendary performance took place:

Talent is Overrated!

Are such extraordinary abilities a God-given talent?

Georg Colvin,  author of the book: Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else, answers this questions with a resounding NO!

The statement of this book can be summarized in 4 points:

1. Talent is not innate.

2. Exceptional ability comes from years of focused practice. (deliberate practice).

3. Start at a very young age.

4. Support and motivation from your social environment is very helpful.

There are scientific studies on the subject and the findings say that such extraordinary skill is much more in our own hands than we thought. These studies deal with top performers from many different areas, such as playing the violin, playing chess, golf, swimming, mental arithmetic, and much more…

Many top performers in these fields are not above average in intelligence or have special innate abilities. Many (but not all) are just average. The key element to reach such levels: Deliberate Practice, which means conscious, focused, goal-oriented practice. This way of practicing is very tiring, but it is efficient and it works! The more you practice this way, the better will be your results.

Scientific Studies – Talent vs Hard Work:

In 1992 a small group of scientists in England looked for the phenomenon of artistic talent. The researchers chose musical talent because it’s the kind of talent most people think exists. The researchers studied 257 young people who were learning musical instruments. They were all divided into five groups based on their abilities.

The best group consisted of musicians attending a music school, where they were admitted through a competitive process. The worst group consisted of musicians who had learned an instrument for at least six months but then gave up. The groups were matched by age, gender, instruments and social class. Then the researchers questioned the students and their parents in detail. For example how much they practiced, at what age they could sing a recognizable song, etc.

The results were clear: innate talent was undetectable. The top group, which consisted of music school students, was at one point ahead: The ability to sing a song. They were able to do this by the age of 18 months on average, in contrast to the others, who were only able to do so by the age of 24 months.

However, this could not be counted as an innate talent, as the parents in the surveys indicated that they were much more active in singing with the children in the top group. All students in all groups started learning their instrument at the age of 8. Nevertheless, the 257 students differed significantly in their musical abilities.

Only one factor could predict how successful the students would be: how much they practiced. But the number of hours of practice is not the only factor in achieving exceptional ability.

A similar study took place in Berlin in the early 1990s. They wanted to find out why some violin students were better than others. The study was conducted at the Music Academy in Berlin, a renowned school. The students were divided into three groups based on their musical skills. In many respects, the students in all groups were very similar: They all started learning their instrument around the age of 8 and decided to become musicians around the age of 15.

At the time of the study, each student had been learning their instrument for about 10 years. But the difference here was also in the practice. The top two groups practiced about 24 hours a week, the third group only 9 hours a week. The two better groups practiced mainly in the morning to early afternoon, while the 3rd group only started to practice in the late afternoon. Another difference: the two better groups had slept longer at night and also slept in the afternoon to some extent. But why was the best group better than the second group?

The difference was in the history of the students. By the age of 18, the top group had already practiced 7410 hours, the second group 5301 hours and the third group 3420 hours.

What exactly is Deliberate Practice?

Deliberate Practice or Conscious Practice:

– many repetitions

– constant feedback from teachers  or through self-relflection (audio- and videorecordings) with analysis

– Deliberate Practice consists mainly of focus and concentration

– setting short and longterm goals

– practice in the learning zone

Practice Zones
Practice in the Learning Zone:

Practicing can be divided into 3 zones:

Comfort zone:

In this zone you will find everything that you are already good at. Practicing in this zone is comfortable and does not require much concentration.

Panic Zone:

In this zone one is quickly overwhelmed, one becomes demotivated very easily and gives up quickly.

Learning Zone:

In the learning zone you are neither over- nor under-challenged. It’s not that easy to find this zone and to stay in it, since it’s constantly changing.


Does Talent exist?

Am I talented enough to learn drums?

It depends on how you define this. According to the studies, there is no innate talent. Extraordinary ability or talent at a young age can be developed through focused practice, very good teachers and support and encouragement from the social environment. However, the concept of Deliberate Practice can be used successfully by any drummer, whether as a hobby musician or professional, and guarantees good progress.

Drum Lessons in Vienna

About the author:

Mag.art. Florian Stöger

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