What makes an extraordinary musical talent?

In my many years of teaching piano, I have come across a few students who have a rare gift for learning and playing music. I have seen similarities in their personalities and personal qualities that seem to contribute to their musical talent.

Early maturity, both intellectual and emotional is a key factor. I have found that the greater the maturity, the more extraordinary the talent. The process of learning and studying music requires the maturity to comprehend and appreciate complex, grown-up music, on both an intellectual and emotional level. It takes maturity for a child to be organized and disciplined, with a strong work ethic, and to take responsibility for studying, practicing, and learning.

I have most often observed that the student who has a strong desire to learn the instrument and play music, who has the focus and discipline to practice effectively, as instructed, and consistently can develop more “talent” than one who is blessed with musical gifts but does not work hard to develop them.

The bottom line is that musical talent, although naturally present to some degree in certain individuals, must be nurtured and developed, through consistent focus and hard work.