Is Talent Enough? Mitsuko Uchida

What is talent?
1. the deep need to express yourself through music and nothing else
2. intellect
3. technique
4. charisma

Uchida says that #1 is the most important and the only one you are born with. The others can be developed. She is great and I mostly totally agree.

[I think most all artists across disciplines agree that you can translate *facts* about talent and artmaking across all artistic disciplines. I’ve never heard argued otherwise. So I’ll say this from poet Rilke.]

Related to this, my great friend Josh sent me an amazing book for my birthday last year. Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Here is his response to a man who asks whether his verses are good: “Nobody can counsel and help you, nobody. There is only one single way. Go into yourself. Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you write. This above all – ask yourself in the stillest hour of your night: must I write? … A work of art is good if it has sprung from necessity.

Talent is nothing more than the urge to create – and the ability to delight in abstract sensations. This is a paradigm shift from what mainstream culture raises us to believe. This is something I teach my students: you cannot let the world tell you if you have “talent” because the world does not understand “talent”. You are talented already because of your enthusiasm to play piano even though you may not yet be proficient as you want to be. Desire is enough. Passion is talent. (Or perhaps a more accurate claim would be: talent is a myth). Cultivate desire to drive you to work and work and delight and work.


10 Genres of Metal – Electric Guitar Subtleties

Wow I wish I could play electric guitar!

This is a good video to show intermediate students to keep them engaged. Also to great video to work on listening sensitivity, i.e. Help students sharpen skills for making judgments and assertions about music in cultural contexts. Same skill applies if I were to ask you to identify a baroque piano piece from a classical piano piece.

Lesson ideas: ask what exactly distinguishes each genre. He’s using the same tempo, same instrument, same timbre, same “energy”…what changes? How do the genre names relate to the sounds he was making? Do they actually? And why? How did each genre make you feel?

It also will just get kids excited about making music. (At least that was my reaction)

I’m Back!


Just over 1 year ago I referred all of my students to other piano teachers in order to take a 9-5. It was difficult to do, but also planned for. I intentionally signed up to teach through studios so that the students would not lose momentum when I eventually found that full-time gig.

However, I’m now stable in my job and a friend through work asked me to teach her daughter piano. I am very excited!


I have to say, reading through this blog after time apart, I think I can easily answer my primary question. The way that musicianship happens is through hours and hours of meaningful experience playing music.

I had a full and expensive musical education from youth to adulthood and I have never found confidence in my playing until now. Being good at music is 50% putting yourself out there (same with all arts). If you want to be good at putting yourself out there, put yourself out there often. I think my major torment was that music did not simply flow through me despite my advanced knowledge and foundation. (The idea of art flowing through artists as though from the heavens is a lie! It takes work!) I probably could have counted the number of times I had played in public. Not so anymore, and the difference is amazing.