It is far from being a gift a lucky few have. It can be trained: By exposing kids to tones and challenging them to match them before age 4, they can develop perfect pitch for the rest of their life. Even adults can learn some of this, though there is some brain plasticity at that young age that makes it easier.
So did the young Mozart have a gift for perfect pitch? Yes and no. If Mozart had been raised in some other family without exposure to music—or without enough of the right sort of exposure—he would certainly have never developed that ability at all.
There is no such thing as natural talent or prodigies.
The right sort of practice carried out over a sufficient period of time leads to improvement. Nothing else.
The reason that most people don’t possess extraordinary physical capabilities isn’t because they don’t have the capacity for them, but rather because they’re satisfied to live in the comfortable rut of homeostasis and never do the work that is required to get out of it.
The traditional approach to learning is not designed to challenge this: It assumes that learning is all about fulfilling your innate, fixed potential and that you can develop a particular skill or ability without getting too far out of your comfort zone.
It offers the following view: anyone can improve, but it requires the right approach. If you are not improving, it’s not because you lack innate talent; it’s because you’re not practicing the right way.
Once you understand this, improvement becomes a matter of figuring out what the “right way” is.
Improvement is possible is we learn to let go of these myths:
Keep in mind three Fs: Focus. Feedback. Fix it.
Break the skill down into components that you can do repeatedly and analyze effectively, determine your weaknesses, and figure out ways to address them.
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