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Thread: Nature vs Nurture

  1. #1

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    Default Nature vs Nurture

    I'm curious what % you think genetics plays into being a good drummer.

    As a little background I'm always intrigued by the role genetics plays. I struggled with my weight. I'm very healthy and fit now. But I'm amazed that I only eat 1,000 calories a day, I am an avid cyclist and ride about 200 miles per week (sometimes 100 miles in a single day) and I walk around at 15% body fat. I know other people who eat donuts and big macs, sit on the couch and walk around at 8% bodyfat. This has made it very apparent to me just how much of a role genetics plays in your body.

    We all know there aren't many 5'8" guys playing in the NBA. So if you're 5'8" tall and not particularly fast or coordinated, will any amount of work ethic really help?

    Let's assume I took 100 people of the same age and they all recevied the same drum training, and practiced exactly the same amount of time for a year. Would they all be about the same skill level at the end of the year or would some of them be horrible and others be prodigies?

  2. #2
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Well, "nature" would be best illustrated by someone like Tony Royster jr. He has a natural ability and all of the physical trimmings to be a great drummer without lessons. The same could be said of Buddy Rich who never practiced and could not read music. Dennis Chambers is also self-taught. This almost 100% nature.

    Where nurture is dominant, look to Virgil Donati and Thomas Lang. While they obviously possess a great degree of natural ability, both of them developed themselves through intense study and intense practice over a number of years. The discipline was instilled in them via learning at places like the Vienna school of music. Steve Gadd, Steve Smith and Vinnie Couliauta are other examples. Probably 60% nurture.

    Each of the drummers I have mentioned are among the best drummers that ever existed, yet they all have a different path to achieve what they have. Who is better? That really is subjective at best.

    Edit: Out of 100 people, there are going to be 30 or 40 that just cannot play the drums past simple patterns. Maybe 20 out of 100 will turn out excellent. The remaining will be mediocre.
    Last edited by Imperialstar; 11-01-2009 at 07:33 PM.

  3. #3

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Let me look back at my personal experience. In 7th grade, there were about 20 new students learning to play the drums. By, 10th grade, we were down to about 10. Out of those, 2 were in advanced and the others were intermediate. At 12th grade, we were down to 6 with 4 advanced and the others intermediate.

    So, I think there is genetic disposition that makes one advance quicker than others...that's not to say that others will not be able to catch up and learn the skills. The other factor is passion...some will just live and breath this stuff, while others will not have drum lessons or time to practice much.

    But then, there is that one kid out a million that will come out of the womb doing power triplets on the doctors stethoscope :-) ...go figure

  4. #4

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Well, obviously the will to learn would play a part in it.
    - Zack

  5. #5

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    Rhythm is natural, no question. You can learn to get better at finding the beat, but it's just wired into some people.
    Jesse

    1986 Tama Crestar - Lacquered Piano White
    2016 Roland TD-25K
    2015 Tama Starclassic B/B - Indigo Blue Sparkle

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    You know, it's interesting. I think anyone can learn to drum (of course), but different aspects of it definitely come more naturally to some. One of my observations has been that black drummers usually have a natural speed on the drums. I say this completely objectively, without intending at ALL to be racist. But it seems genetics definitely play a role.

  7. #7

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    I don't think this is the direction we want the thread to head.
    Jesse

    1986 Tama Crestar - Lacquered Piano White
    2016 Roland TD-25K
    2015 Tama Starclassic B/B - Indigo Blue Sparkle

  8. #8

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    No worries. It was an objective statement. Although I disagree with it completely. I've seen no correlation and I've been playing and studying for over 30 years.
    - Tom

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  9. #9

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_d View Post
    I'm curious what % you think genetics plays into being a good drummer.

    As a little background I'm always intrigued by the role genetics plays. I struggled with my weight. I'm very healthy and fit now. But I'm amazed that I only eat 1,000 calories a day, I am an avid cyclist and ride about 200 miles per week (sometimes 100 miles in a single day) and I walk around at 15% body fat. I know other people who eat donuts and big macs, sit on the couch and walk around at 8% bodyfat. This has made it very apparent to me just how much of a role genetics plays in your body.

    We all know there aren't many 5'8" guys playing in the NBA. So if you're 5'8" tall and not particularly fast or coordinated, will any amount of work ethic really help?

    Let's assume I took 100 people of the same age and they all recevied the same drum training, and practiced exactly the same amount of time for a year. Would they all be about the same skill level at the end of the year or would some of them be horrible and others be prodigies?
    Great thread idea. There obviously are some that are better positioned by genetics to be great drummers. I have seen some child prodigies fizz out though so this is a testament to the fact that nurturing is a major part of the picture regardless. Life experiences and your choices can greatly affect your progress whether it be negative or positive.
    - Tom

    See the new Drum Bum Store!





    When you shop at Drum Bum or BuyGifts.com, you help with the costs of operating DrumChat.com. Please consider patronizing their fine stores. Whether you need unique music gifts for friends or just want a little something for yourself, Drum Bum is the place!

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  10. #10
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    No worries. It was an objective statement. Although I disagree with it completely. I've seen no correlation and I've been playing and studying for over 30 years.
    I can't even equate athleticism to great drummers. Look at drummers ranging from Duffy Jackson to Vinnie Paul. Not athletic...great drummers.

  11. #11

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Imperialstar View Post
    Well, "nature" would be best illustrated by someone like Tony Royster jr. He has a natural ability and all of the physical trimmings to be a great drummer without lessons. The same could be said of Buddy Rich who never practiced and could not read music. Dennis Chambers is also self-taught. This almost 100% nature.

    Where nurture is dominant, look to Virgil Donati and Thomas Lang. While they obviously possess a great degree of natural ability, both of them developed themselves through intense study and intense practice over a number of years. The discipline was instilled in them via learning at places like the Vienna school of music. Steve Gadd, Steve Smith and Vinnie Couliauta are other examples. Probably 60% nurture.
    Respectfully, I agree with your first paragraph but not your second one. I believe some of those drummers were also prodigious. Especially Vinnie. He was playing at an "extremely" advanced level in his teens.
    - Tom

    See the new Drum Bum Store!





    When you shop at Drum Bum or BuyGifts.com, you help with the costs of operating DrumChat.com. Please consider patronizing their fine stores. Whether you need unique music gifts for friends or just want a little something for yourself, Drum Bum is the place!

    For coupons and specials, join the Drum Bum mailing list.

    Buy Gifts for Drummers. And don't miss the free Drum Lessons!

  12. #12
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by drummer View Post
    Respectfully, I agree with your first paragraph but not your second one. I believe some of those drummers were also prodigious. Especially Vinnie. He was playing at an "extremely" advanced level in his teens.
    Perhaps he was a bad example. I remember Vinnie back to zappa (that's it), and was under the impression he was well schooled vs being a prodigy. Either way, he has talent on loan from God.

    Lang , Smith and Gadd OTOH, while awesome, owe a great deal to the schooling they had. The nature part is that, with the same schooling, the average drummer could not apply it like they have. There is a genius to their work that was like kindling to the fire.

    Steve Smith may have been a prodigy (or not) but I know he is where he is due to Berklee and Freddy Gruber's teachings.
    Last edited by Imperialstar; 11-02-2009 at 12:01 AM.

  13. #13

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    My intuition is that you could replace "drumming" with almost any other skill and ask the same question. I think the answer is that genetics might give one person a head start (or handicap) and increase (or decrease) the efficiency of their practice time, but in the end, the amount of time spent "effectively" practicing is probably the biggest factor.

    Those with a little natural talent but a lot of perseverance will go MUCH further than someone with a lot of natural talent and little perseverance. (I am living proof of the latter.)

    Of course, someone with both talent and perseverance is going to go the furthest of all. Those are the lucky few who get to make a successful career out of playing the drums. (Or pitching, or playing golf, or drawing, or making furniture, etc.)

  14. #14

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    drumming is a little bit different

    i dont think genetics has anything to do with keeping a beat or rhythm.. its always been my opinion though that people with stronger off-hands (the left hand of a right handed person) natrually is going to be a better drummer. and of course, naturally everyone picks up things at different paces.

    drumming all comes down to how early you started and how much help you got along the way

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by kaosotis View Post
    Rhythm is natural, no question. You can learn to get better at finding the beat, but it's just wired into some people.
    I have to agree with this. Whenever I clapped to music I was always wondering why I had trouble and had to stop and get into time with everyone else. I never realised I was clapping on the 1 and the 3 until I started drum lessons 2 years ago.

    Kate

  16. #16

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Doc_d View Post
    I'm curious what % you think genetics plays into being a good drummer.

    As a little background I'm always intrigued by the role genetics plays. I struggled with my weight. I'm very healthy and fit now. But I'm amazed that I only eat 1,000 calories a day, I am an avid cyclist and ride about 200 miles per week (sometimes 100 miles in a single day) and I walk around at 15% body fat. I know other people who eat donuts and big macs, sit on the couch and walk around at 8% bodyfat. This has made it very apparent to me just how much of a role genetics plays in your body.

    We all know there aren't many 5'8" guys playing in the NBA. So if you're 5'8" tall and not particularly fast or coordinated, will any amount of work ethic really help?

    Let's assume I took 100 people of the same age and they all recevied the same drum training, and practiced exactly the same amount of time for a year. Would they all be about the same skill level at the end of the year or would some of them be horrible and others be prodigies?
    Were all different in body and chemical makeup within that body. As far as 100 people maybe, maybe not but your using 1 year.

    I was at a sign shop in Georgia and the boss fired the screen printer just before I got back from a week in Michigan. They looked hard for someone to come in and teach us to screen print but it seemed like a guarded secret. Finally a kid seen his boss showed them around but wasn't going to tell them nothing really. The kid caught them in the parking lot and questioned them. He came down and instructed us 1 weekend. Out of 8 of us why was I the only one who had the capability and capacity to be the man? Common sense?
    Just before the kid left he pulled me aside and said you know your it right? I said yeah I know, imagine that!
    I only wanted to be a question and answer man on screen printing. My work day went from 8 to 5 or 7 to 8, 9 to 12, 1 or 2 every day. What a blessing!

    Had a girl that was a horrible drummer and sang too. The best I could do for her was to get her on time and put her 1 fill in on time and make the crash on time and where they should be. Very basic drumming, but it works for her. She can set in with any body if she knows the song and she has lots of fun with it. I'm happy with what I taught her to do, just be on and in time, crowds seem to enjoy that she gets the songs out there...
    Play to win my friend, and make sure you see you won in the eyes of others not that of your own, then truly you've won...

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by cole1paul View Post
    You know, it's interesting. I think anyone can learn to drum (of course), but different aspects of it definitely come more naturally to some. One of my observations has been that black drummers usually have a natural speed on the drums. I say this completely objectively, without intending at ALL to be racist. But it seems genetics definitely play a role.

    COle, my friend SUnbrnt66 and I were talking about that the other day. And I agree, again with absolutley NO RACIAL INTENT that genetics are a key player. 2 of my marching snare drummers in HS Competition Marching Band were "my brutha's" and their handspeed was NATURALLY quicker than the other guys (all white dudes) . Again, NO RACIAL INTENT, simply pulling from my own historical data and experiences. Let me reiterate, I am not saying one is BETTER than the other. And yes, I met offspring of some very talented drummers that cant find 2 and 4 to save their life. Ultimately, I think its all up to the Great Drummer in The Sky himself who gets the gift!!
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  18. #18
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Funk-Soldier View Post
    COle, my friend SUnbrnt66 and I were talking about that the other day. And I agree, again with absolutley NO RACIAL INTENT that genetics are a key player. 2 of my marching snare drummers in HS Competition Marching Band were "my brutha's" and their handspeed was NATURALLY quicker than the other guys (all white dudes) . Again, NO RACIAL INTENT, simply pulling from my own historical data and experiences. Let me reiterate, I am not saying one is BETTER than the other. And yes, I met offspring of some very talented drummers that cant find 2 and 4 to save their life. Ultimately, I think its all up to the Great Drummer in The Sky himself who gets the gift!!
    Hmmm... wouldn't it be just a touch more science and a little less bias simply to state that anyone from an athletic family lineage has superior genetics in terms of any physical activity?

    As with horses, racing improves the breed. The same goes for generations of families that pass traits to children. Dad was an Olympian or athlete, chances are junior will be the same way, if not better.

    The bottom line is, if your genetic makeup is from a lineage that was physically active and coordinated, you would have the advantage over the average person or someone from a sedentary lineage.

    That makes more sense to me that painting any ethnicity vs another in a general sweeping statement.

  19. #19

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    How did I know instinctively that even touching on that subject would offend someone?. The only factual information I have to base my opinion on are my own personal experiences. My experiences of many, many State, Chapter, and Regional accomplishments playing with a huge melting pot of all races. In THOSE experiences, however non-scientific it may sound, I have found it to be more than a coincident that my opinion holds a small thread of truth. It seemed to me that certain individuals had a more natural instinct when presented with more complex rudimental patterns, at higher speeds. Because I did not experience that with members of another race does not suggest it not to be so, its simply that I didnt witness it. If I seemed "sweeping" in my comment, I apologize and will try to keep my opinions more "scientific" from now on.
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  20. #20
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Funk-Soldier View Post
    Because I did not experience that with members of another race does not suggest it not to be so, its simply that I didnt witness it. If I seemed "sweeping" in my comment, I apologize and will try to keep my opinions more "scientific" from now on.
    Hmm Buddy Rich, Tim Watters, Gene Hoglan, Mike Mangini, Chris Adler, Joey Jordinson, Thomas Lang, Virgil Donati, Marco Minemann and Vinnie Coulaiuta are all screamingly fast and...white. But that's just a nonscientific observation based on my experience, not to bring race into it and offend anyone.

    Science explains this...I suppose faith could too.
    Last edited by Imperialstar; 11-05-2009 at 11:07 AM.

  21. #21

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    Oh, well if I had known the original question was based on name dropping as opposed to personal opinion, I would have said...hmm lets see...........oh I know.......Longineu Parsons III, Carter Beauford, "Chick" Webb. Any one of us can throw out names of super talented, multi-racial percussionists fromany given era. Apparently I struck a nerve touching on the race card. If I had known it was such a tender issue for some of us, I would of kept my opinions to myself. But, ya see, the beauty of this fine country that I served to keep free is that I can freely voice my opinion. And an opinion is just that. Simple and plain. You can enjoy yours, and I, too Sir, shall enjoy mine.
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  22. #22
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Funk-Soldier View Post
    Oh, well if I had known the original question was based on name dropping as opposed to personal opinion, I would have said...hmm lets see...........oh I know.......Longineu Parsons III, Carter Beauford, "Chick" Webb. Any one of us can throw out names of super talented, multi-racial percussionists fromany given era. Apparently I struck a nerve touching on the race card. If I had known it was such a tender issue for some of us, I would of kept my opinions to myself. But, ya see, the beauty of this fine country that I served to keep free is that I can freely voice my opinion. And an opinion is just that. Simple and plain. You can enjoy yours, and I, too Sir, shall enjoy mine.
    I served 26 years myself, just got back from the war this year. Nice try on the "service card." I did it without racism. Thanks for playing.

  23. #23

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    Somebody needs a hug. Funny, the "African American" coworker that first proof read my post , just to assure that I wasnt suggesting racism, approved of the post. And still, 3 hours later, noone else has cried racism. hmmmm
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

  24. #24
    Imperialstar Guest

    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Quote Originally Posted by Funk-Soldier View Post
    Somebody needs a hug. Funny, the "African American" coworker that first proof read my post , just to assure that I wasnt suggesting racism, approved of the post. And still, 3 hours later, noone else has cried racism. hmmmm
    And no one else has a USMC banner and says "Soldier". Hmm... I guess it's ok to put up an Army banner and say "Funk sailor."

    It's called devils advocate. Read what I said and see if it doesn't provide a real counterpoint and pause for re-examination of the declarative statements made. I am still waiting for the aformentioned Beauford and Parsons to win WFD or put up a video of 200 bpm.

    Incidentally, ask any ethnicity if it's ok to call them superior at something good and they won't likely disagree.
    Last edited by Imperialstar; 11-05-2009 at 11:30 AM.

  25. #25

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    Default Re: Nature vs Nurture

    Well the next I am asked for you to approve of my banner or my handle, Ill let you know. The term Funk Soldier is a term deemed worthy by my bass player, found in a Prince funk jam, and has no direct referance to my service with the 23rd MEU, or my Marine Corps Service. AGain, next time I need your approvel when I set my account up, Ill let you know. And for 26 years in, you certainly make a strong point to insult my service. All the Gunnys and Master Guns I have come across would never begin to insult a mans service to his country. And Im guessing from your pompous remarks that you are doubting my service. Let me ask you , Sir, at what point did you decide to delve off topic and start hurling insults. If your counterpoint was so strong than why would you , in this day and age, assume to know something about, and directly question and insult, the service a man served. At which point in your 26 year career did the branch you serve deem it honorable to insult a fellow service member? The details of my term and service are not the topic here. Our difference of opinion is. I find it hard to believe any senior enlisted, or commissioned member of the military would approve of your insulting my service. Have a nice day.
    Somebody open a window, cuz this boy is FUNKY
    Old School Mapex Funk 7 piece
    Iron Cobra, Sabian, Evans, Pro-Mark
    Currently laying down grooves for my power funk trio Off The Hook and The Sho Nuf Blues Kings.

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