“Talent is the result of highly motivated, focused, relentless practice, expertly guided by a master, over a long period of time. Given sufficient amount of excellent practice, innate talent becomes indistinguishable from acquired talent…
“The notion that talent has a ceiling has so far remained a (formidable) limit. Once this wall is torn down and music teachers accept that talent is an acquired skill… we must grapple, either with the painful notion that our pedagogy is not working, or that our student is not motivated enough to make the effort to learn.
“(The teacher’s) techniques and tools will translate into excellent teaching and learning if and only if the teacher can adapt to the student’s needs. What truly matters is that the teacher:
- assess the mental map of the student – where he or she is at that moment
- defines the learning challenge – the sweet spot
- provides the tools for deep practice until the next meeting.
“What we teachers do in the lesson, and how (and how much) the student practices the remaining 167 hours of the week, will determine the amount of learning that will take place. This notion forces us, teachers, to squarely face a choice, both ethical and practical. The way we respond to this choice defines who we are as teachers.
“We can no longer use the excuse of innate talent (or alleged lack thereof) as an easy way out.”
Martin Kutnowski is a composer, writer and teacher. He teaches at St. Thomas University in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, where he currently serves as Director of Fine Arts. More information and articles can be found at his website: www.contrapunctus.com.
The above excerpts have been re-published with the kind permission of the author; excerpts are from an article in The Canadian Music Teacher, Official Journal of the Canadian Federation of Music Teachers’ Association. The article builds on ideas presented in Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code.
Image: King Vision