The Harder I Work, the More "Talented" I Become: Views on the Development of Expertise in Instrumental Performance
The Oxford dictionary defines the word expert as “well informed or skilful in a subject” or “a person with special knowledge and skill”. Expertise therefore is a “special skill or knowledge”. From a relativistic point of view, an expert would be someone who performs a task significantly better (by some specified criterion) than the majority of people. (Sloboda, 1991). However, how does one become an expert in a particular field such as the playing of a musical instrument? Does one have to be “talented” to succeed?
This paper will explore the following points:
• growth in musical development is cumulative (Bamberger. 1991)
• expertise in any activity is developed through an extended period of deliberate practice. (Ericsson et al, 1993; Hallam, 1997; Howe et al; Sloboda et al, 1995)
• deliberate practice is seen as work-like.
• motivation is a key element in persistence with deliberate practice. (Hallam, 1998; O’Neilly, 1997; Sloboda et al, 1995).
• this process establishes goal orientations.
• differing learning goal orientations appear to derive from and reflect beliefs about the nature of ability, the nature of success and the causes of success.
• two basic concepts of ability – an “entity” view and an “incremental” view. (Dweck et al).
Keywords: expertise, performance, goal orientation, talent
Lecturer in Music, School of Arts and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, ACU National (Australian Catholic University)