Can’t You be Born a Musician??!!

In one of my first posts, I raised the question, “Can a person be born a musician?” Through my personal story, I tried to exemplify that you do not necessarily need be born into a musical family or to have exclusive genes to become a musician or musical personality. I asked my colleagues to respond to this query and I received hundreds of comments, (most of them form Linked-In groups) where people shared their musical biographies and insights. I would like to quote some of the comments and respond to them.

I can sum up the majority of the musicians’ opinions with Shirley Kirsten’s words. She seemed shocked by my declaration that people can be born a musician. “Born a musician? I think you become a musician through devotion and hard work, although there are genetic gifts that jump-start the creative process and give it an edge.”

Even though there are some musicians that were exposed to music in a relatively late age (about 12 years old) or by their own eagerness, they still had a profound musical education and experience. Through the comments I received, I understood that to be a musician you need not only to hear music as part of your environment, but also actually play an instrument. This became obvious through the story of Mary Jane Jones, which was only one of many similar stories. “My musical “talent” began as the result of living in a home where classical music was the only music played. Records and radio. No TV in the home. My mother was a professional pianist/organist and my dad loved music.  Although he was not trained a musician, he was very musical. He was the lead tenor in our church choir and my mom was the church organist. I was taught to sing and play the piano at the early age of four.

If you study the biographies of Mozart, Bach, Rubinstein, Horowitz, Casals and DuPre, you will discover that these musical icons “certainly undeniably acquired skill through practiced diligence and superior, considerate teachers,” states Leonardo Helton.

R. Leonardo Helton and Steven Beely both mentioned Malcom Gladwell in their answers. Maybe Malcolm Gladwell started to answer this question in his book Outliers.  Gladwell exclaims that to become a very successful person, one needs to invest 10,000 hours in developing their own talent.


He further explains that putting in time is not the only criterion for success. A supportive and educated family; being raised in a cultural and developed center; and being born in a period of prosperity are also key factors in flourishing into any type of gifted person.

So what is the recipe for being a musician?

Do you have an exact formula for casting 10, 000 hours of musical training?

How do I know that my 10,000 hours of musical practice methods are efficient and effective?

Can I transfer this approach to other non-musical fields?

What do you think? Let me know in the comments section below.



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1 thought on “Can’t You be Born a Musician??!!

  1. Most Venerable Maestro,

    The interrogative tends eternal consideration in deliberation of whether the art be that so as born or of made,
    we struggle with still that which is of our minds and hearts from impassioned joy created to be conveyed.
    That which is whereof the cerebral cannot be only an intangible to be ultimately realized in an imagination for the ethereal intenton displayed,
    for where that is of the unconscious energized by neurons and synapses that physics says is merely mechanics biologically manufactured in a design so reservedly confined,
    indeed known well it is diligent practice and earnest temper of the physical dexterity develops the tangible expository in of creative exposition refine,
    but more that which is of love and empathy through our resonance of and to each other manifest from the mind created to enjoin our spirits of all that is alive exists at but fleeting those moments shortest of our lives in time,
    there that then is the gift from what can only be rendered by the human mind as abstraction as ultimately is divine.

    Most very respectfully, I remain, your humble servant,

    ~ Leonardo

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