People often link the concept of talent to learning a musical instrument.
Violinist Hrvoje Budak says that while talent is good, talent without effort doesn’t go far.
1. Is it crucial to have talent to learn to play a musical instrument?
Talent is of course an advantage but not a prerequisite. A good teacher can teach you to play at an amateur level without your having special talent, meaning that you’re happy with your playing and so are listeners! Some people are more naturally gifted than others – the teacher’s role is to identify individual skills and how they can be developed.
2. Isn’t everything simply easier for a talented student?
Yes and no. Talent can be deceptive. Talented children sometimes lack discipline, they love their instrument and are more skilled, but think they don’t need to practice and fall into the trap of superficiality. The teacher must insist that they work hard to develop their skills in order to achieve a higher level. Nobody is spared from putting in effort!
3. How do I know if I/my child has talent for music?
Don’t worry about it, just try! Learning is a process, it takes at least a year to master basic playing skills, and talent is a relative concept that involves numerous aspects from motoric ability to musicality and artistry.
Online tutorials are often informative and fun. But only interaction with a ‘real’ teacher will seriously start you off correctly, and there’s the motivation factor, too.
Here’s what guitar teacher Hrvoje Sudar thinks about ‘live’ lessons versus video…
1. What’s the advantage of a ‘real’ teacher for beginners?
A ‘real’ teacher gives feedback on what a student is doing right, as well as wrong, in real time. The teacher can correct any problems right from the start, so the student doesn’t inadvertently adopt a bad technique or sloppy playing in the first months of learning.
2. How does a teacher help you through sticky phases?
Any time a student feels something is really hard to do or even impossible, I break it down into smaller parts and work on part of a song, or a technical exercise, or demonstrate a ‘professional trick’. I help the student to first analyse, and then overcome, any obstacle in guitar playing.
3. Can I make better progress with a ‘real’ teacher?
Yes. A teacher can focus on whatever is preventing the student from jumping to that next level: explain it, master it, and help them to enter the next field of playing with a firm grip on the last. There’s no skipping of chapters, it’s about setting a strong foundation on which to build musical skills.
Learning a musical instrument usually gets off to an enthusiastic start. But finding the time and the motivation to practise isn’t always easy. Pianist Marina Matolić says playing a little every day is better than diving into a long session once a week.
1. How much practice is right for beginners?
Everyone is individual, and the same goes for the optimum practice time. It also depends on the student’s age, and how interested they are in learning to play the instrument. I recommend to beginners to definitely practise every day, at least for a bit, rather than just once a week for a couple of hours.
2. Is practice about repeating the same thing over and over again?
Practice should never be endless, monotonous repetition. The most productive type of practice is when you are completely focused on what you are doing, when you practise mindfully and with a clear idea of what you want to achieve that day. If you get tired, take a break and continue again afterwards with full concentration.
3. Is there something like too much practice?
Practice can become excessive if it turns into a drill, is mindless and automatic, or when strenuous effort causes pain in the hands and body. That kind of practice is not only unproductive, but can be dangerous.
Developing your singing voice means using muscles you probably didn’t even realise you had! Soprano Amela Jančić Priganica has encouragement for anyone who would like to sing but has held back until now.
1. I love singing but feel that I don’t have a ‘big’ voice. How do I know if I have potential?
It’s not necessary to have a powerful voice to start singing. Lessons will help you to increase the volume and range of your voice. In the first lesson, I can assess your natural aptitude, and what needs working on. Just as each one of us is unique, our voices and potential are unique, too!
2. Which parts of the body do I need to train to sing better?
Singing demands intense concentration on breathing. Apart from the diaphragm, we need to activate the pelvic muscles as well as the back muscles. Singers must train their voice and body under expert supervision, almost like athletes.
3. Do I have to be able to read music to take singing lessons?
No, at the beginning we focus solely on singing techniques and vocal exercises. Later we move on to songs that we learn by ear. For choir singing, reading music is useful, but that can come later.