The Truth About Talent, with Professor Anders Ericsson

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This episode was a really exciting one for us because we got to speak with Professor Anders Ericsson, the leading academic researcher on the topic of “talent”.

If you’ve been listening to the Musicality Podcast for a while, then you know we have a particular perspective on “talent”, and we’re often asking our guests their opinion on how important talent is to become a great musician and learn the skills we associate with being a “natural” in music, like playing by ear, improvisation, song writing and more.

So for a long time we’ve been wanting to speak with the man who’s done more serious research on this topic than probably anyone else.

Professor Ericsson has been researching talent for over 30 years and has become famous for two things: the so-called “10,000 hour rule” for becoming an expert, and the idea of “deliberate practice”. We actually did a whole episode of this show on the 10,000 hour rule, and deliberate practice is an idea that runs through all of our teaching at Musical U. So you can imagine what a treat it was to get to talk to the man himself!

He recently published a book titled Peak sharing the biggest findings from that research, co-authored with Robert Poole, and if you enjoy this episode then you must check it out, it is packed full of more information, explanation and examples of everything we talk about today.

We were determined to make the most of this conversation and we asked Professor Ericsson the big questions we knew that you would be interested to hear the answers to…

Questions like:

– Is there such a thing as musical “talent”?

– If you don’t have talent for music, will that affect what you’re able to accomplish?

– Do you need perfect pitch to become an expert musician?

– What’s the most effective way to spend your practice time – especially considering the vast abundance of tutorials and other resources available at our fingertips online these days?

His answers were just as fascinating as we’d hoped. We were looking forward to this interview for ages and it did not disappoint.

We should mention there’s a brief section towards the end where we have some noisiness on the audio. We apologise for that, we had real technical issues on this one but Professor Ericsson was really gracious and patient and in the end it turned out really well apart from that one glitchy section.

We hope you’ll enjoy this episode and feel encouraged and inspired by the proven truth about musical “talent” and what it really takes to develop your musical skills.

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The Truth About Talent, with Professor Anders Ericsson