Many "ordinary" people get the idea in their head that they would like to play guitar. The next thing that pops into their head is "Wait, don't you have to be talented to play the guitar.....umm, I don't know if I am talented or not"....(sigh). Am I kidding myself here, thinking I can learn to play like these obviously talented players I hear, who make me feel so inadequate?"
I spent a lot of time feeling like that myself, before I started teaching full time, saw hundreds, then thousands of people trying to learn the guitar, and then realized the truth.
As I began teaching, I got the opportunity to see large numbers of people attempting to learn to play, and I started to really investigate this idea of natural talent. Was there such a thing, and what were the reasons some people got really good, and others did not. I saw many people grapple with the challenges of learning to play, and I realized that yes, I do have some natural talent, because many of these people were having such a harder time than I did.
But I also noticed another interesting thing. A very good percentage of the people I was teaching seemed to have at least as much talent as I did. Some maybe more. But a there was one big reason why I got further on guitar than they did: I knew what to do to train my fingers effectively when I sat down to practice guitar.
I got better faster because I was doing the right things in practice, and they were not (until I taught them to do what I was doing, that is!).
Natural Talent is a pre-disposition in the mind and the body, to do the right thing. When a person who has natural talent for singing hears someone sing, their body and mind "know" what that person is doing to get that sound. And their body/mind knows how to do it too, or how to begin moving in that direction. (They don't have to know this consciously, that is "know what they know, and how they know it, they just "know").
Some people come in for lessons, and they "tend" to do everything right, from sitting comfortably with the instrument, to positioning and using the fingers. Some people do everything wrong, and must be shown, painstakingly and minutely, exactly what to do. This is the majority of people - they need to be shown all the right things to do.
Now, this is very good news! Since natural talent is the tendency to do the right things, once you know the right things to do, and you start doing them, you will find yourself discovering your own natural talent! You will find yourself becoming that guitar player you didn't think you could become!
Talent is nice, but it will never make you a great guitar player, or even a good one. The 2 most important things that will do that are:
Understand that everyone falls somewhere in between the two extremes of total cluelessness, and being a genius. Yes, I have some talent, as do many people. If I didn't work really hard, and do the right things, it would have got me nowhere. I needed a whole lot of education to go with that talent. So did Beethoven, who studied with Haydn, and so did Bach, who spent his life copying out the music of composers he admired, in order to study their work. So did Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, both who spent years copying every blues record they could find.
With the right approach, any one can learn anything. I have proven this as far as playing the guitar goes, for myself and for my students. Many of them got nowhere after trying to learn guitar for years. Once they started doing the right things in practice - they became good guitar players.
The more you know and do the right things, the more "Natural Talent" you will discover in yourself. It is like having a little voice in your head guiding you in the right direction if you will listen. The more you listen, the louder that voice gets, and you will hear it more often.
Now that you know the truth about natural talent, it is time to mention the one factor that will really make or break you as a guitar player. Without this, all the talent in the world won't make you a guitar player.
I am talking about desire. Your burning desire and desperate need to play, coupled with the correct understanding and approach, are the most important things you must have.
There are lots of people with talent, but not a lot who allow their desire to grow, and become powerful. You must allow yourself to feel this need and desire, and use its energy to take the steps necessary to get the information and training you need. You will then overcome all the obstacles all guitar players encounter along the way, and you will find all the talent you need to be the player you want to be.
Jamie Andreas has one goal: to make sure that everyone who wants to learn guitar is successful. After her first 25 years of teaching, she wrote the world acclaimed method for guitar "The Principles of Correct Practice For Guitar". She put everything into this method that was essential for success on guitar. Called "The Holy Grail" of guitar books, the Principles has enabled thousands of students who tried and failed to play guitar for years or even decades, to become real guitar players. In 2012 Jamie was profiled in "Guitar Zero" (Penguin Press 2012), a study of how adults learn to play guitar. Jamie was interviewed along with some of the worlds leading guitarist/teachers, including jazz legend Pat Martino and Tom Morello ("Rage Against The Machine").