In our preliminary conversations with potential students we hear this a lot. How does one know if one is talented? I’ve always said I’d be awful at surfing. I’m not that flexible or really that boyishly brave in water so I have shied away from learning even though I’ve had opportunities. Maybe had someone forced me too then who knows I may be living in a surf town somewhere exotic by now. I once had an interest in photography. I’m now a part-time wedding photographer amongst other things because I gave it a go and found out.
With regards to playing the piano, you might not be talented right now, before you learn but with the right tutor giving you the best instruction you could be great. You may not become a Rachmaninov, but you will be able to learn to play some Christmas classics or your favourite ballad soon enough.
Don’t let yourself not try. All talented people were born like you. An interest, some parental encouragement, some social luck, a school teacher, or just some good old determination all have their parts to play. Mo Farah did not run out of his mother very fast along a track… He’s put years and years of effort into training to get the gold medals. He is a prime example of a determined do-er!
All the best pianists did the same, spending hours at the piano, thinking about music and trying to understand it. All of which is part of being great. The playing and the understanding go hand in hand.
You may question the size of your hands. I was told many a time I have piano players fingers. But, the very famous and brilliant pianist Maria Joao Pires has very small hands which is contrary to popular belief that you must have big hands/long fingers to play well.
Even ears get developed with aural training. Being tone-deaf is a myth. It is true that some people are born with a perfect pitch (a rare auditory phenomenon characterized by the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note without the benefit of a reference tone). Researchers estimate the occurrence of perfect pitch to be in 1 in 10,000 people. The same exact ability is difficult to learn to perfection but can be developed to a very close level of competency.
It is true that a natural disposition or “gift” for a certain activity is helpful at the start but it will not make you successful on its own. Being naturally good at something does not make you brilliant at it. Only work and practice can. Hence why Mo Farah won Gold, Adele won many awards and Chopin is still revered today!
A master pianist once told Celine “somebody with 80% of talent and 0% of practice will never become a great pianist while somebody with 20% of talent and 80% of practise will.
And finally, we have taught many students over the years and have not yet met anyone that can’t play the piano. It is just impossible.