Why Harry Potter Isn’t A Model Guitar Player
Is that guitar in the corner collecting dust because of your fear of failure? Do you believe you don’t have what it takes to be a musician? Or are you going to get the most out of that set of strings before they start to rust?
The idea that musicians are born possessed with musical ability has been seeded in our culture for centuries. It’s an idea that is found in all playing styles, from blues and rock, all the way back to the beginnings of music, when it was a common belief that music was bestowed upon humans by god. These days, this notion has become so common, that musicians promote this kind of notion to build their rapport to their audience. It has become part of a musicians identity.
But that’s the thing, it’s just a mask over the real deal, something that hides the truth; it’s a lie that is actually harmful to potential musicians. Some people don’t know that they can learn to become a musician, so they don’t even pick up an instrument. In fact, this notion almost stopped me from making music into a career. Once I did start, I never thought I’d be able to break the glass ceiling because I wasn’t a natural. If this sounds at all familiar, then keep reading on.
This is "the wizards only theory of talent," because it assumes that only people with supernatural abilities (like Harry Potter) can make it as a musician.
That very notion is ridiculous (as I’m sure you agree), and I hope that this article will prove that it is possible for "muggles," (or non-wizards) to learn to write and play music as well as the pros.
Only Wizards Can Create Music
Has the thought you are not creative, and can never be creative, held you back? Have you ever thought that everyone who can summon serenades from their instruments are "wizards," and that they were never a musical "muggle?"
The truth is that creativity, or expressing feelings in new ways is a skill that can be learned. This is also a skill that can be, and in fact is, routinely taught by trained musicians. If you become a faster runner with exercise, then why wouldn’t you become more creative by using that part of the brain?
Wizards Are Instantly Successful The First Time They Write A Song
How will you figure out that you’re one of the rare musical wizards? Pick up the nearest instrument and compose a song. If your fingers just form the right notes and sound something like a new Mozart, than congratulations, you just made the cut. If that’s not the case, then I suppose you’ll have to settle for being a muggle. Obviously, because the naturals just have it bred into them.
The truth is that writing takes practice, nobody is good right out of the box. It’s just like what Adventure Time’s Jake the dog says "sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something."
A Muggle Might Learn To Perform, But Composing Is Out Of The Question
Muggles aren’t completely useless, I mean, wizards do need sidekicks. Sure, they’ll never be able to make a car soar through the air, but at least they can, with years of practice and mechanical mastery, fly a plane through the skies. So of course they can play music, it just takes a while. They’ll never have what it takes to write an original score, though.
The reason for this misconception comes from the fact that being able to play at least the basics is required to make a composition. That said, musicians compose at their own level, and usually the more proficient they are with the instrument, the more complex their writing becomes. Not every performer composes either, and that isn’t because they’re fundamentally not able to, sometimes it’s just because they aren’t interested.
A Muggle Is As Good At Listening To Music As Wizards Are
Here’s the other side of the story. In the beginning, we noted how wizards are immediately good at everything they do. Now here, it’s the muggles turn to feel like a winner, because they are just as good as the wizards at observing the "quality" of the music being played.
This too, is a bit of a misconception. Musicians who practice their art tend to have a different sense of the music than the average listener, and sometimes even enjoy a wider variety for this reason. This is because they know where another musician made a mistake, or did something that just didn’t quite go the way they intended it to.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the average person can’t know what they like or don’t like, it just means they don’t always get the full picture. From experience, I can say that having a trained ear tends to add a lot more depth to what you’re hearing. Practice, and you’ll see for yourself.
How Can I Become A Musician Or Composer?
The best way is to find the right teacher. Be sure to interview any prospective teacher, and ask what they think about inherited talent. If they mention the "Magical ability theory" as I exposed it here, then be sure to get back in your car and fly on to the next one.
NOTE: the inspiration for this article came from a comment from a person that goes by "Komponisto". Although I was not able to reach out to him, he has my gratitude.
Tommaso Zillio is a professional player, teacher, and composer. Visit his website to know more about guitar and music theory.