GET OUR GUITAR SUCCESS SERIES! Learn to practice correctly....get rid of tension & bad like a pro!

* indicates required
The Guitar Principles  
The TRUTH about Learning Guitar
The Basics > Practice Theory > Natural Talent - Do I Need It?

Natural Talent - Do I Need It?

Guitar players, and those who would like to be, can easily fall prey to a few psychological conditions that make our progress as guitarists and musicians much more difficult than it needs to be. One of these conditions is the nagging sense of doubt about our basic ability to learn to play guitar. We ask ourselves "Do I have any Natural Talent for this? Can I learn to play guitar? Am I kidding myself here, thinking I can learn to play like these obviously talented players I hear, who make me feel so inadequate?"

Boy, I spent a lot of time feeling like that. I remember, at the beginning of my playing career, listening to a Segovia recording of the Bach Bouree in Em, which I was working on at the time. He played it so fast, and I was so struggling to play it at even half that speed, that it put me in a serious state of self doubt.

I can now play it faster than he played it (not that it is necessarily a good idea!).

I have learned a few things about this subject of "natural talent", and I think they would be good and useful things to share with the aspiring players out there.

You Too Can Be A Superhero!

My first insight into this "question" was when I observed how I reacted to my first experience in taking lessons. I had taught myself guitar for three months before I began formal lessons. I was practicing for 3 hours a day by myself, working out of a book called something like "Teach Yourself Guitar the Easy Way". It was a pretty decent book, and I learned first position notes, some chords and some songs. When I started lessons, I started with Mel Bay # 2, and had a lot of misconceptions cleared up, and started learning a world of things I had no clue about, with the aid of a very good Jazz style teacher.

When I started lessons, I began to practice even more, 5 or 6 hours a day. As a result of this, and because I did have some degree of "natural talent" (which I will define later), I got pretty good pretty fast. My teacher was amazed, and used to show me off to everybody, as I had become his "star pupil". He would always say, "tell them how much you practice."

Now the funny thing is, I would always lie about it, and tell them "oh, 2 hours a day". I didn't want them to know I practiced so much. I thought " I don't want them to know how much I work at it, I'd rather let them think I'm some kind of genius". I used to get really afraid someone would realize how much I worked at it, then I'd just be like everybody else.

Now, I do forgive myself for this character flaw, because I understand why I felt this way. I grew up in a big family, and there was only so much attention to go around (and being someone who would spend a lot of time on stage in later life, I needed a whole lot, by nature). This was the first time in my life I ever stood out at anything, and had people pay so much attention to me, and make me feel special. It was a good gig, and I didn't want to blow it by having them find out I'm just an "ordinary person" like everybody else. No, I'm special. I just picked this thing up, and got divinely inspired.

Besides, my fondest desire as a child was to be a super hero like in the comic books, and this was the closest I had come to fulfilling that career choice!

Learning What Being Special Really Means

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 very few had the burning desire I had. Very few were practicing the number of hours I did, even from the beginning. Very few seemed to have the almost desperate need in their life for this thing we call playing the guitar.

So I saw that there is literally a whole lot of natural talent around. But there isn't a whole lot of love, dedication, and "hard work".

I started to see how immature, and downright incorrect my old way of thinking was, when I was trying to be a Superhero. I began to realize how beautiful a thing it was that someone would love and need something as beautiful as playing the guitar, that they would give so much of themselves to it. I certainly thought it was beautiful whenever I saw my students do it, and I still do. I was beginning to see that love, dedication, and hard work were the really "special" things. (Of course, it has never felt like "work" to me. It is called "playing" the guitar, isn't it?)

You Expect Me To Practice Only 5 Hours a Week!!??

It took me a while to understand why all people who said they wanted to play the guitar didn't spend most of their day doing it. I remember being in high school, and filling out the form for getting extra credit for taking music lessons. Mine said you had to practice at least 5 hours a week to qualify. I raised my hand and said, "excuse me, I think there's a mistake on mine. It says you only have to practice 5 hours a week, shouldn't that be 5 hours a day." I couldn't understand the concept of only practicing 5 hours a week! Boy, did I learn different when I started teaching full time!

Now as the years have gone by, I have become much more tolerant. I can accept the fact that there are people in this world who want to play the guitar, and yet only want to practice maybe a half an hour a day, or whatever. I also realized that these are the people who are probably not planning on becoming professionals, and that's okay. There is a place in the world for people like this, although the world would probably be a better place if more people spent most of their day playing the guitar. But of course, professionals do need some people who just like to listen, and admire how special we "full-timers" are.

In all seriousness though, I am always moved when I see so many people, school teachers, landscapers, office workers, mothers and fathers, make such a commitment to keep up their efforts to learn to play this instrument, in the midst of otherwise very full and demanding lives. Maybe they only get to practice 20 minutes a day, but it is very important to them, and they make sacrifices to keep it in their lives and have it grow. That's one reason I have made a specialty of showing these people how to get the most out of the time they put in.

Okay, So What Is "Natural Talent"?

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. These people are the ones I have learned most from, about teaching and about playing.


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, 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, who spent years copying every blues record he could find.

Summing Up

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 whom have had their "heads on backwards." In fact, the more you really try, 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. I have found the more I listen, the louder that voice gets, and I hear it more often.

Having "talent" is not the primary factor in whether or not you will become a good or great player. 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. If you can allow yourself to feel this need and desire, and use the power of that to overcome all the obstacles you might encounter along the way, you will find all the talent you need to be the player you are meant to be.

article 1
Playing Plateaus - How To Get Off!
Every guitar player gets stuck on a plateau from time to time, unable to get better on guitar. Here is what the great players do..................
>
article 2
Guitar Practice and Building Speed: Vital Info
Here is an excellent question about building speed on guitar that is a great area of confusion for guitar students. It shows how careful we must be when listening to the advice of great players!
>
article 3
Creating Coordination with Coupling
Coupling is the bringing together, into one playing moment and motion, of two or more events necessary to produce a note. It is done by intense focus on the tactile sensations of fingers on strings.
>
article 4
Measuring Your Progress On Guitar
Guitar students practice every day, but often have no idea if they are making any progress. There are ways of measuring your progress on guitar, and we have to know them, and use them.
>
article 5
Guitar Speed Exercises: Are They Working For You?
You can find guitar speed exercises all over the web, and in thousands of books. Many guitar students have a pile of these books, but no speed in their fingers. Here's why!
>
article 6
It's Not A Problem, It's A Process
Attitude is everything when it comes to learning guitar. Learning how to see every problem as a process is the key to becoming a great guitar player. In this article, I explain how to do this.
>
article 7
Practicing One Thing is Practicing Everything!
If you know how to learn one thing really well on guitar, you know how to learn anything. If you cannot learn one thing well, you cannot learn anything well. Correct practice changes everything!
>
article 8
9 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Practice
Here are 9 critical things you MUST be aware of when you practice guitar. Lack of awareness of these things is the root of endless problems.
>
article 9
Perfection & Guitar Playing
What does "perfection" mean for a guitar player. You'd better know, or you could be causing yourself a lot of agony!
>
article 10
Playing From The String
"Playing From The String" is one of the secrets of the masters of guitar. All good players are doing this, even if they don't know what it means! Here's what it mean.....
>
article 11
The 5 Minute Practice Session
Finding a block of time for guitar practice is sometimes difficult. Don't go for days without touching those strings you love! Learn how to make solid progress in just 5 minutes!
>
article 12
Am I Too Old To Learn Guitar?
A lot of "grown ups" want to fulfill their lifelong dream of playing the guitar. But. one nasty, nagging doubt holds them back. Cheer's the good news!
>
article 13
The 2 Types of Growth On Guitar: Horizontal & Vertical
There are two kinds of growth we can experience on guitar. I call them Vertical & Horizontal Growth.Both are necessary, but Vertical growth is hard to come by!
>
article 14
Agressive Guitar Practice
Many guitar students make little or no progress because their practicing is not aggressive enough. When you practice, your mind must have the energy of a hurricane and the tenacity of a pit bull!
>
article 15
Review Is Required
Reviewing material we have already worked on, and applying our new and improved skills is essential for reaching our full potential on guitar.
>
article 16
Guitar Principles Recommended Metronomes
A metronome is necessary for guitar practice. Some metronomes are better than others when it comes to doing powerful and correct practice.
>
article 17
Why You Should Use A Metronome For Guitar Practice
Knowing how to use a metronome when you practice guitar WILL make you a better player! Here's why...
>
article 18
Double Trouble
Sometimes the way to make something better on guitar is to make it worse first!
>
article 19
The Importance Of Repertoire
If you have played guitar for more than six months and you do not have a few things you can play from beginning to end, something is seriously wrong!
>
article 20
Changing Bad Habits On Guitar
Virtually all beginners on guitar unknowingly form bad habits. They can last for decades, making you less of a guitar player than you can be. Here is how to get rid of your bad habits.
>
article 21
Guitar Practice Organization
Here's how to find the time for guitar practice and how to organize it. There are 4 essential categories of practice you must organize in your guitar practice they are...
>
you might also like
Technique vs. Musical Feeling
Guitar Foundation Exercises
Play "Day Tripper"!
Finger Rise: A Disease of the Left Hand
Playing Plateaus - How To Get Off!
Guitar Practice and Building Speed: Vital Info
Creating Coordination with Coupling
Measuring Your Progress On Guitar
We Never Email More then Once a Week.
The Principles of Correct Practice for Guitar-Hard Copy
Why Is The Principles The Best Way to Learn Guitar?

156 - Why Is The Principles The Best Way to Learn Guitar?

All other guitar methods have serious flaws that leave you struggling on guitar. The Principles is different....
Learn To Play a Guitar by Learning HOW to Practice!

16 - Learn To Play a Guitar by Learning HOW to Practice!

Everything that happens when you play is the direct result of what you do when you practice. Learn to train your fingers EFFECTIVELY when you practice guitar.
Your First Perfect Guitar Lesson

18 - Your First Perfect Guitar Lesson

Many guitar players carry for a lifetime the mistakes they learned when first learning how to play the instrument... Tips to avoid this can be found here!
What Are The Principles?

15 - What Are The Principles?

Those who know "The Principles" know that there is no other guitar method like it. It is the key to using every other method! Find out for yourself.....