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Thread: Genius learning capacity/capabilities

  1. #1 Genius learning capacity/capabilities 
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    How long would it take a high-level (mathematical/musical) genius to say, for example, learn the violin?

    (And on a similar note, a very high IQ should correspond to the ability/capability to learn mostly anything if the person puts their mind to it, no?)


    Therefore, how long would it take such a high-level genius to play excellently on the violin or rapidly learn musical notation to be able to compose and read music fluently, for example?

    Interested in hearing your thoughts.


    Last edited by AHeinrich; November 1st, 2012 at 05:35 AM.
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    Playing the violin is not just an intellectual activity. Stephen Hawking is one of our greatest minds - he can't even feed himself.

    Composition and conducting are a different matter. Being able to read music fluently shouldn't be much of a challenge - much less difficult than learning to read and understand a language which uses a different alphabet or no alphabet at all (symbols, characters, pictograms).

    Being able to 'hear' the music from reading the score for a symphony is another matter entirely. Along with deciding on appropriate interpretation and expressive approaches. People who apply romantic-style interpretation, changing volumes and tempos to 'enhance' emotional content, to baroque or other music will make dreadful clangers in getting themselves accepted as a musical 'genius'.

    And remember, musical talent is not necessarily linked to 'raw' intelligence. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with the whole melody for 'Yesterday' so clearly in his mind that he had to check with people whether he was plagiarising some other work. I don't think McCartney's stupid, but nor is he Einstein.


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    Forum Ph.D. stander-j's Avatar
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    Not to mention recent studies have posed that there are several types of Intelligence: Visual-Spatial, Inter/Introspective, Musical, etc. It really depends on the strengths and weaknesses of this hypothetical Genius.
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    And never forget the other determinant of intelligence, use it or lose it.

    This doesn't apply just to people getting older. When you look at children from deprived back grounds (The 30 Million Word Gap), they start their first year of school so far behind in vocabulary and its associated logic that neither they nor anyone else will ever know whether they might or might not have had worthwhile intelligence to develop.

    When we look at contenders for entry into advanced programs, sport, music or academic, we find another number, 10000 hours. Those who identify as the most 'talented' are the ones who've put in 10000 hours of work (by about 15-18 years of age), they're the ones who display the most talent. We all know plenty of people we went to school with who had heaps of talent for maths or singing or chess or sport. Most of them were overtaken within 5 years by others who seemed less able initially but who just kept working at it.
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    I completely agree that a high IQ genius isn't necessarily also gifted musically, or socially or in sport etc. In fact, if you take the stereotypical genius image, it almost always exclude high social intelligence and sport intelligence for instance.

    I know people who are extremely gifted in social interactions and use that ability to make tons of money in sales for instance, but they really struggle to put a proper sentence together in writing and can't hold conversations on almost any topic you might find on this forum for instance. Also, some top sports people who can easily adapt physically to very complex new movements are sometimes not the sharpest people around.

    Bottom line, I'm sure some geniuses would find it almost impossible to master the violin as adults.
    Last edited by Gerdagewig; November 1st, 2012 at 04:38 AM.
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    if you take the stereotypical genius image, it almost always exclude high social intelligence and sport intelligence for instance.
    And it really is a stereotype. The high performing academics, athletes and musicians are in the 10000 hours by age 18 group. For a significant number, but I doubt it's a majority, those 10000+ hours have meant a single mindedness that excluded developing other interests or talents. But then there are the Rhodes Scholar types - not just good academically but demonstrated sporting and other achievements. And many of us have known some of them, even if they weren't Rhodes Scholar standard.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Playing the violin is not just an intellectual activity. Stephen Hawking is one of our greatest minds - he can't even feed himself.

    Composition and conducting are a different matter. Being able to read music fluently shouldn't be much of a challenge - much less difficult than learning to read and understand a language which uses a different alphabet or no alphabet at all (symbols, characters, pictograms).

    Being able to 'hear' the music from reading the score for a symphony is another matter entirely. Along with deciding on appropriate interpretation and expressive approaches. People who apply romantic-style interpretation, changing volumes and tempos to 'enhance' emotional content, to baroque or other music will make dreadful clangers in getting themselves accepted as a musical 'genius'.

    And remember, musical talent is not necessarily linked to 'raw' intelligence. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with the whole melody for 'Yesterday' so clearly in his mind that he had to check with people whether he was plagiarising some other work. I don't think McCartney's stupid, but nor is he Einstein.
    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Not to mention recent studies have posed that there are several types of Intelligence: Visual-Spatial, Inter/Introspective, Musical, etc. It really depends on the strengths and weaknesses of this hypothetical Genius.
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And never forget the other determinant of intelligence, use it or lose it.

    This doesn't apply just to people getting older. When you look at children from deprived back grounds (The 30 Million Word Gap), they start their first year of school so far behind in vocabulary and its associated logic that neither they nor anyone else will ever know whether they might or might not have had worthwhile intelligence to develop.

    When we look at contenders for entry into advanced programs, sport, music or academic, we find another number, 10000 hours. Those who identify as the most 'talented' are the ones who've put in 10000 hours of work (by about 15-18 years of age), they're the ones who display the most talent. We all know plenty of people we went to school with who had heaps of talent for maths or singing or chess or sport. Most of them were overtaken within 5 years by others who seemed less able initially but who just kept working at it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerdagewig View Post
    I completely agree that a high IQ genius isn't necessarily also gifted musically, or socially or in sport etc. In fact, if you take the stereotypical genius image, it almost always exclude high social intelligence and sport intelligence for instance.

    I know people who are extremely gifted in social interactions and use that ability to make tons of money in sales for instance, but they really struggle to put a proper sentence together in writing and can't hold conversations on almost any topic you might find on this forum for instance. Also, some top sports people who can easily adapt physically to very complex new movements are sometimes not the sharpest people around.

    Bottom line, I'm sure some geniuses would find it almost impossible to master the violin as adults.
    I'm quite aware that high IQ does not necessarily go hand in hand with musical ability. I simply added the high IQ bit as an afterthought (so I'll bracket it off and edit it.) So, having taken the IQ bit out, let me rephrase by saying a sort of mathematical/musical genius - how long would it take them to master?
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Playing the violin is not just an intellectual activity. Stephen Hawking is one of our greatest minds - he can't even feed himself.
    I don't see how your reference to Hawking is relevant.
    Hawking has a motor neurone disease and it is this nasty physical problem that stops him feeding himself.
    Last edited by Halliday; November 1st, 2012 at 06:47 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AHeinrich View Post
    I'm quite aware that high IQ does not necessarily go hand in hand with musical ability. I simply added the high IQ bit as an afterthought (so I'll bracket it off and edit it.) So, having taken the IQ bit out, let me rephrase by saying a sort of mathematical/musical genius - how long would it take them to master?
    I have very little background or intelligence in music (the fact that I'm sometimes brought to tears by the beauty of deep songs in my mother tongue is an indication of me being a softie, not a musical genius!! lol!), but I do have a lot of experience in some very technical sporting disciplines. If that can serve as an adequate analogy, I must say that I think there is a certain age after which you will never be able to reach the level of perfection that you would have been capable of if you started training as a child. I don't think there is an exact cut-off age, but even if you take the talent of an Olympic champion in something like pole vault, but only start developing it in say the mid 20's, you will probably not even get to national level, let alone international level.

    My guess would therefore be that the same might apply with the violin. If somebody with musical genius genetics only gets exposed to serious music training at 30 and starts practicing the violin intensively, he would imho only become decent, not spectacular.
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    Hawking has a motor neurone disease and it is this nasty physical problem that stops him feeding himself.
    He's just an outstanding example. Plenty of people with high level abilities have physical limitations that would prevent excellence in performance with a violin. Weak hands or poor fine motor skills or a lack of physical stamina to practice umpty hours a day resulting from ordinary genetic variation would prohibit the kind of excellence we're discussing here, even if it didn't stop a person from learning to play the instrument in the first place
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by AHeinrich View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Playing the violin is not just an intellectual activity. Stephen Hawking is one of our greatest minds - he can't even feed himself.

    Composition and conducting are a different matter. Being able to read music fluently shouldn't be much of a challenge - much less difficult than learning to read and understand a language which uses a different alphabet or no alphabet at all (symbols, characters, pictograms).

    Being able to 'hear' the music from reading the score for a symphony is another matter entirely. Along with deciding on appropriate interpretation and expressive approaches. People who apply romantic-style interpretation, changing volumes and tempos to 'enhance' emotional content, to baroque or other music will make dreadful clangers in getting themselves accepted as a musical 'genius'.

    And remember, musical talent is not necessarily linked to 'raw' intelligence. Paul McCartney woke up one morning with the whole melody for 'Yesterday' so clearly in his mind that he had to check with people whether he was plagiarising some other work. I don't think McCartney's stupid, but nor is he Einstein.
    Quote Originally Posted by stander-j View Post
    Not to mention recent studies have posed that there are several types of Intelligence: Visual-Spatial, Inter/Introspective, Musical, etc. It really depends on the strengths and weaknesses of this hypothetical Genius.
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And never forget the other determinant of intelligence, use it or lose it.

    This doesn't apply just to people getting older. When you look at children from deprived back grounds (The 30 Million Word Gap), they start their first year of school so far behind in vocabulary and its associated logic that neither they nor anyone else will ever know whether they might or might not have had worthwhile intelligence to develop.

    When we look at contenders for entry into advanced programs, sport, music or academic, we find another number, 10000 hours. Those who identify as the most 'talented' are the ones who've put in 10000 hours of work (by about 15-18 years of age), they're the ones who display the most talent. We all know plenty of people we went to school with who had heaps of talent for maths or singing or chess or sport. Most of them were overtaken within 5 years by others who seemed less able initially but who just kept working at it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gerdagewig View Post
    I completely agree that a high IQ genius isn't necessarily also gifted musically, or socially or in sport etc. In fact, if you take the stereotypical genius image, it almost always exclude high social intelligence and sport intelligence for instance.

    I know people who are extremely gifted in social interactions and use that ability to make tons of money in sales for instance, but they really struggle to put a proper sentence together in writing and can't hold conversations on almost any topic you might find on this forum for instance. Also, some top sports people who can easily adapt physically to very complex new movements are sometimes not the sharpest people around.

    Bottom line, I'm sure some geniuses would find it almost impossible to master the violin as adults.
    I'm quite aware that high IQ does not necessarily go hand in hand with musical ability. I simply added the high IQ bit as an afterthought (so I'll bracket it off and edit it.) So, having taken the IQ bit out, let me rephrase by saying a sort of mathematical/musical genius - how long would it take them to master?

    I took piano lessons for 12 years. I have a moderate amount of musical talent, and played pretty well during my peak. My best friends brother, who is one of the most talented musicians I know, took up piano and surpassed my skill in only 6 months...and he was dumb as a bag of hammers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MacGyver1968 View Post

    I took piano lessons for 12 years. I have a moderate amount of musical talent, and played pretty well during my peak. My best friends brother, who is one of the most talented musicians I know, took up piano and surpassed my skill in only 6 months...and he was dumb as a bag of hammers.
    Excellent, thankyou - very insightful and very interesting to know. Are you at any specific grade or ability in piano/music theory etc?
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    [QUOTE=AHeinrich;363258
    Excellent, thankyou - very insightful and very interesting to know. Are you at any specific grade or ability in piano/music theory etc?[/QUOTE]

    No...as someone said earlier...use it or lose it. In my 20's I didn't think piano was cool, so I stopped playing. I lost a lot of my skill. I now have only 4 classical songs that I can still play that were "perma-burned" into my muscle memory from so much repetition. I know 1/2 of the Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven, and a few others.

    I think there are two types of musical skill. Those that are blessed with "raw" musical talent...they have the right genes for dexterity, muscle memory, and the right type of brain "wiring" for music. Then there are others that can achieve musical skill through repetition and practice. My friend's brother is the former, I am the later.
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    Even the so-called musical 'geniues' needed thousands of hours to practice. Mozart was strongly pushed by his father to practice to become what he was, of course having perfect pitch helped as well. But in many cases, genious is often made more so than inborn. This can all refer back to the nature/nurture debate though.
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  16. #15  
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    of course having perfect pitch helped as well
    "Perfect pitch" can also be a matter of development. Back in the day when I was singing a lot, a couple of rehearsals plus a couple of lessons a week as well as occasional performances, I could 'sing an A' that an orchestra could tune to anywhere anytime. Even though I had started out with much less natural gift for singing in harmony than my sister had.

    Of course, perfect pitch is, as the orchestra joke goes, when you get the viola in the skip on the first throw.
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