Learning styles

Learning styles

So in our endless debates about ear learning vs. sheet learning, there seems to be some fundamental disagreement about whether people are really predisposed to different learning styles - visual vs. audible, mostly. And people tend to make broad statements about science backing up their position.

In the most recent "Memorizing" thread as an example, a statement from Calum says: "It might help you to know modern psychology has proved that "learning preferences" or "learning styles" do not really exist - we’re just better practised at some than others."

And another statement from Richard D Cook was: "Being that I was trained as, and worked as, a teacher and that we were required by law to equally address Aural, Visual, and Kinesthetic learning modalities, when Emily says that she is a visual learner I’m not going to tell her that her solution is to transform into a different sort of learner. It doesn’t work like that; there are plenty of studies that prove it."

Instead of debating the potential merits of one style of learning over another, I’m more interested in the science that is being referred to.

I tend to believe more what Calum stated, that if we’ve "learned to learn" one way or the other, that is what makes us feel like that’s the kind of learner that we are, and conversely that we could certainly learn other ways of learning, but it often doesn’t happen because it feels superfluous, or a waste of time, since we already have an easier (for us) way of learning. But I have no real science to back this up. My opinion is formed simply from a long time of observing people, but these observations weren’t performed in any kind of scientific manner with double blind studies, etc.

One of the good things about science is that it is part of the process to try to prove yourself wrong, and (at least in theory) science doesn’t have an ego that gets upset when new information is presented that contradicts long held beliefs. I have read a bit over the years, including Musicophilia and This is Your Brain On Music, but both of those reads were quite some time ago, and to be honest, I don’t remember that much about what either of those books had to say about this particular topic. More recently, I really enjoyed reading through The Immutable Laws of Brainjo, which is a blog written by a neurologist who happens to play (clawhammer) banjo. (https://clawhammerbanjo.net/the-immutable-laws-of-brainjo-the-art-and-science-of-effective-practice/)

So I’m curious if anyone has interesting links to scientific papers or articles that are discussing these different learning styles specifically, and whether people are really predisposed to one style or another… Is it nature or nurture?

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I’m interested to see what comes up, and I’ll do some research on it when I have more time, later.

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When it came up recently I checked upon the web about something I vaguely remembered reading about - Aphantasia

"Aphantasia is a condition where one does not possess a functioning mind’s eye and cannot voluntarily visualize imagery" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aphantasia) Now, Some might consider this atypical and a disability, but it doesn’t seem to hold some people back. "I have an unusual type of thinking. I have no visual memory whatsoever. Everything is conceptual to me." (Craig Venter)

I haven’t checked up, but I think I read that some people don’t have a "minds’ ear".

These may be extreme cases (maybe with ‘photographic memory’ towards the other end of the scale) but it doesn’t seem to be to do with practice so I suspect some differences in ability do exist.

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(and before anyone gripes about Wikipedia - see the ‘References’ section of that page)

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You’ve stepped into a complicated Ed Psych minefield. Recent studies that used randomized controlled experiments found very dubious support for the learning styles approach. This article provides a good summary:

Pashler H, McDaniel M, Rorher D, et al. Learning styles: concepts and evidence. Psychol Sci Public Int. 2008;9(3):105–119

However, the dilemma about auditory vs. visual learning of ITM touches on an emerging theory of cognitive processing. Instead of learning styles, it may be that individuals retain information differently based on visual versus auditory presentation of the material. This is called dual coding. The argument is that linguistic stimuli can produce cognitive overload in a learner, causing them to shut down. However, because the brain processes visual stimuli through a different brain function, adding visual stimuli to supplement the linguistic material can produce higher levels of memory retention (and avoid cognitive overload). The theory is that two representations of the material are stored in our long-term memory (linguistic and visual), making it easier to recall.

Check out this paper for a good, but technical overview:

Cuevas, J., & Dawson, B. L. (2018). A test of two alternative cognitive processing models: Learning styles and dual coding. Theory and Research in Education, 16(1), 40-64.

So, for our purposes, it suggests that the most helpful practice for learning and retaining tunes might be a combination of auditory and visual. Listening to a recording of the tune (or if you’re lucky hearing it over and over in a local session), combined with reading the music on paper should produce a better memory recall. I often wonder how that impacts our ability to develop creative and appropriate ornamentation. Since I’m pretty much a new learner on the banjo, I’ve found that creative ornamentation only comes with true familiarity with a tune, regardless of whether I learned it by listening or reading music.

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I would tend to agree that, for the majority, we are not predisposed to one particular learning style over another. Too often, it seems to me, an individual learning style is used as an excuse for an inability to learn in another way.

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Thanks, Braden. That’s the kind of stuff I’m interested in learning more about.

Here are a few links to the papers in Braden’s post:

Learning styles: concepts and evidence: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1539-6053.2009.01038.x

A test of two alternative cognitive processing models: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1477878517731450

DonaldK, what you say is basically what I have come to believe on my own. But again I think it feels like a waste of time to try to learn a different way, because you could potentially learn the same thing another way that is easier for you… That’s not to say that it’s not a good thing to expand your horizons through different experiences… I have often thought "that person doesn’t want to learn by ear - they are just being lazy", but maybe it’s more "efficiency" than "laziness". After all, I don’t spend much time working on reading music better, just because I don’t feel like it’s as good a use of time as learning more tunes by ear is… I’m sure the converse is true to people that can sight read easily.

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Thanks, Calum. Interesting point of view from that blog. He is certainly all for debunking that learning styles even exist! One of the more interesting things I read there (so far) is talking about how people argue their side by using different techniques:

1. I may have no evidence for my position, but you can’t prove it wrong to my satisfaction (shifting the burden of proof).
2. The words used to describe my position might mean something else other than their usual meaning (equivocation).
3. I am offended by your challenge to my position (objection to tone or ad hominem).
4. Lots of people agree with me (argumentum ad populum).
5. You are not qualified to question this. (ad hominem or appeal to authority).
6. It works for me (anecdote).
7. It’s all just a matter of opinion (relativism).
8. The challenge to this is just a bandwagon (ad hominem).
9. I am being persecuted by being challenged (argumentum ad misericordiam).
10. Testing my empirical claims with science is positivist/evil/right-wing/attacking teachers (poisoning the well).

At the very least, that’s a nice summation of how people tend to argue this debate (and many others) on the forums here!

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Another interesting quote from the Pashler paper: "The contrast between the enormous popularity of the learning-styles approach within education and the lack of credible evidence for its utility is, in our opinion, striking and disturbing. If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated."

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Friends doing advanced degrees in education were telling me that the learning styles theory was going out of fashion in higher ed circles because there is very little empirical evidence supporting it. It was arguably even doing some harm, as people were putting kids (or themselves) into boxes. We see that on thesession.org, when people write, "I can’t possibly learn by ear because I’m a visual learner."

Like most cognitive phenomena, learning is complicated — far more so than neatly slotting people into little categories — and the physiology and mechanisms not well understood.

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"If classification of students’ learning styles has practical utility, it remains to be demonstrated."

Bear in mind they are investigating an approach that includes a classification method (in the Cuevas and Dawson paper they use a questionnaire ). So it doesn’t necessarily tell us whether or not there is a ‘nature’ element to it - it’s study of a method in education, not psychology.

Crossing with DrSpear - in effect I am being picky and pointing out that showing that putting kids in boxes doesn’t help could just mean that the method of putting them in the boxes is invalid.

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HOLD YOUR BANJOS an’ pretty-please DON’T take me words out o’ context, laddies! I see myself and my Memorizing By Ear! post getting ever-so-subtly twisted…
First off, I (thought I) made clear in my original post that because of my natural bent and classical training, I tend to learn things better when I can see them. I believe I did use the term "visual learner," but I most certainly never meant that I can only learn by seeing and that my ears don’t function and if you won’t let me use sheet music I can’t learn. @ Dr. Silver Spear, maybe it wasn’t me you were referencing and I’m just getting touchy, but I just find it difficult and less fruitful to learn by ear, due to my classical background.
I like breaking out of boxes. Boxes get too stuffy. But scientists like boxes because it allows them to classify people and make conclusions—which is really difficult to do when you throw into the equation living breathing changing human beings. So basically, "learning styles" were a way scientists used to help them get one step further in understanding the human psyche. 🙂

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I wasn’t twisting your discussion, Emily, I was taking other people’s use of quoting science to point one way or the other (in the discussion that you started) to start a new discussion about the science behind different learning styles. And I don’t see that anyone quoted you (or took your words out o’ context) — I think the good Dr. Spear’s quote was really just a generality that we have seen posted hundreds of times over the nearly 19 year history of these forums.

So don’t feel like anyone is attacking you here. I am just curious about the science behind it. Again, I’m the same as you, but opposite. Learning tunes by ear is so easy for me that I never go out of my way to try to learn to read music better, because it feels superfluous to me…

However, the fact that we discuss (and argue) the virtues of both ear and sheet music learning ad nauseam here, I thought it might be interesting to see what science thinks about the subject of different learning styles, because we might all learn something…

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Sorry if I did come across as touchy…I’m interested in the results as this discussion as well, I just wanted to make the distinction so that hopefully people don’t connect it to my discussion and come back to me and say, you can’t be a visual learner… 🙂 🙂 🙂

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It’s so interesting that there are different beliefs regarding learning styles.
I played piano from a young age until I was 18 (was relieved to quit but have since seriously thought of picking up again). At first, my mom and my piano teacher would tell me the notes to play, but eventually I learned pieces for my lessons with the help of recordings. Then, at about age 15, I was introduced to music Braille, which I actually found to be a real hassle despite having always been an avid reader. Not only the constant flipping back and forth, but also the similarities in symbols: if I remember coreectly the symbol for an eighth-note c is the same as the letter d in standard Braille.
Having the notation of songs has never helped me in the choirs or music classes I have been a part of, because I just learn through constant repetition and the lyrics I’d be given. That being said, sometimes I wish I was better at reading it because there are quite a few rare tunes on here, for example, without any recordings or other videos.

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I’ll use any information, heard, read, or recorded. Is that a learning style? One attitude to learning that I am absolutely convinced of, and this doesn’t just go for music; people are often intimidated by learning. I think its a feeling of being overwhelmed.

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I don’t have any scientific materials, but the way I learned to learn from my last classical guitar professor involved using as many senses as possible, namely hearing, sights, and touch. I haven’t found a way to integrate taste and smell into learning music. Maybe a petite Madeline situation, but that seems like a lot of eating for Irish tunes.

So using hearing sounds obvious, but we had to sing everything we learned. If we couldn’t sing it, we didn’t actually know it. If we were playing a fugue, we had to be able to sing each voice, and play the others. It also helps figure out phrasing and expression, especially since guitar players don’t HAVE to breath, so singing helps prevent it from sounding too mechanical. We also had to listen to different recordings of the same piece and identify differences and similarities.

Touch mostly involved hands on the instrument, the so called "muscle memory" that so many people rely upon but, we were taught and I believe, is the least reliable way to learn when used on it’s own. It’s the most passive method, basically just playing or listening to something over and over again and hoping it sticks.

Sight involved visualization. Either of the score (since we were of course reading) or of our hands on the instrument. In other words we could either picture the music or the fretboard and our fingers on it. The latter is useful for memorizing fingering as well as just the music.

I still use all these to learn Irish tunes, just less visual and more hearing. This is because I’m not necessarily reading the music, and definitely using my ear more. I can play a tune by ear, it just takes a little longer to get certain unfamiliar passages. Then it’s a matter of making a mental roadmap of each phrase to fit unit the whole tune. If it’s a tune I think I can pick up on the spot I try to get the first two bars of a section, then the last two bars, then fill in the middle.

Here’s my controversial hot take, admittedly with no science to back it up: I’ve always believed that people who poo-poo reading music just never put the time in to do it. We don’t do this with language; even poets and singers are expected to be able to read. I don’t know why reading music is looked down upon. Likewise I don’t know why readers look down upon playing by ear. In my opinion if you’re not doing both, you’re severely limiting yourself.

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As the Rev guessed, I wasn’t referring to Emily when I made that throwaway comment about people who classify themselves as "visual learners" using it as justification to not learn by ear. To be honest, I didn’t really read that whole thread. But if I had a pound for every time someone on this website wrote that they couldn’t possibly learn by ear because they’re a visual learner, I would be buying myself a brand new full set of pipes. That’s the trouble with the pervasiveness of the learning styles classification system (and other labels). Once you put yourself in a box, or a category, you trap youself in certain behaviour patterns, which may or may not be helpful. ‘You’ in the most general sense.

For the record, I am shite at sight reading. I think it would be useful to not be shite at sight reading because I could learn tunes from old manuscripts and the like, but eh, laziness wins — never putting in the effort to become good. I’m functional at learning by ear, and I use the dots to untangle tricky sections.

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Just like any skill (driving a car, identifying species of birds, rock climbing, etc) generally one’s ability will improve with practice. But there will always be people whose skill improves significantly faster than the average.
It seems to me reasonable to assume the same applies to learning (i.e., memorising) tunes (by whatever method).

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I would also classify myself as a poor sight reader, simply because I’ve never particularly needed that skill.
However I reckon I’m an okay reader and certainly use dots in learning the majority of tunes. But I also use my ears in learning the vast majority. It’s funny, but I find it much easier to play from a score when I already know what it sounds like.

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"I find it much easier to play from a score when I already know what it sounds like."
So do I.

Also, it helps if you are hearing the notes as you read them too… i.e. from other players or a recording.
The latter, of course, may be slightly different to what’s on the paper.

My biggest difficulty in "sight reading" is always knowing exactly when NOT to play. Mostly, this isn’t an issue but sometimes there might be a more elaborate arrangement where certain instruments are required to "drop out" during various parts of the piece.
So, I find it much easier to rely on my ear in such instances. Of course, this also requires some previous familiarity with the arrangement itself which a really good sight reader doesn’t need.

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That’s an interesting post, Arthur! Now I have to think of ways to get smell involved 😉

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DonaldK’s second latest comment pretty well summaries my views on the topic.

I’m a scientist, though, not in psychology - so, cannot quickly refer to research articles on the topic like Braden did. With that said, the past few years I’ve put a great deal of thought and work into learning about how people learn and grow.

An interesting program on the topic (more-so about memory, but with undercurrents of the so-called "growth mindset") is Jim Kwik’s "Superbrain" program.

Some of the ideas from the program are here:

In the program he phrases two ideas quite well.

The first, "There is only a trained, and untrained brain", i.e., you can improve yourself at whichever skill you’d like to, with time, effort, and good techniques (for efficiency).

The second, "If you fight for your limitations, then you get to keep them", i.e., if you make excuses not to change/grow a particular aspect of your like, then you won’t change/grow that area of your life.

Applying the second idea to Reverend’s comment:
"I have often thought "that person doesn’t want to learn by ear - they are just being lazy", but maybe it’s more "efficiency" than "laziness".

Sure, there’s an efficiency to falling back onto what you’re already good at, what you’ve learned to be good at (i.e., what’s comfortable and easy for you), though, doing so could hold you back. You could be fighting for your limitations. In some cases, it may not matter to you, maybe because you don’t care about improving at the particular thing in question (could be for various reasons, such as already being good at doing it another way, being afraid to fail trying something new, etc etc..).

My personal hunch is people who continually rely on sheet music, who don’t learn to learn by ear, either aren’t motivated enough to develop the skill (either are very good at sight reading, or, not interested enough in improving their musical skills), are afraid of trying to learn the new skill, or, are prioritizing other areas of their life and not giving themselves the time necessary to learn the skill (could fall into the first category).

On a related topic, a while ago I bought two short books on learning music. "How To Memorize Music" by David Bolton, and, "By Heart: The Art Of Memorizing Music" by Paul Cienniwa. Haven’t invested the time to read and really try the material in these books, though, one of the ideas from one them sounded worth trying (think it was David Bolton’s book), and if it works well, then I’ll consider making a habit to learn tunes with this method.

The technique goes something like this: when wanting to learn a new tune, don’t try to play it immediately. Listen to it a lot, and, visualize how you would play it on your instrument (could use your ear or sheet music for this). Eventually, start "practising" without actually making any "noise", for string instruments, don’t strum/pick/etc., for whistles/flutes, don’t blow, and so on. Make the appropriate finger placements and movements to play the tune, without actually playing it. Once you’ve sufficiently gone through the tune’s phrases, have imagined the sound you’d be making at each note, and memorized each phrase, then you start to actually play it. Apparently this process helps you internalize the tune more efficiently.

On another related topic, about practice, from another book I’ve read by Angela Duckworth. She talks about something called "deliberate practice", in which you’re actively trying to improve a specific skill while practising, rather than passively practising "everything". Angela broke down the elements of this type of practising as: (1) having a clearly defined "stretch" goal, (2) full concentration and effort, (3) immediate and informative feedback, and (4) repetition with reflection and refinement.

For a whistle/flute player, this might be something like focusing on improving tone, or ornamentation, or memorising the tune, during any particular sit down. Working on that one element of your playing. Then get feedback from a music teacher (or other musicians of near equal or higher skill level to you) not long after practicing. Repeat this processes, while continually assessing where you’ve improved recently, how you’d like to further improve, and how to do so (i.e., what to practice next).

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As much as I want to congratulate you brilliant lot for this thread I cannot because of my history. PLSDTD.
That is not an excuse though I probably have read most of the concepts posted above over the years. But I know there is always the rare opportunity for a teachable moment on these pages. I keep coming back for even a small bit of enlightenment & my patience is excellent. As long as we all learn something in the process then these threads are good for the lot of us. Appreciate your contribution, Reverend. I may say something later. Until then bring on those thoughts, experiences & all. You’ll be brilliant yet!

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I have years of experience teaching dance, and I feel strongly that in the end, everyone learns kinesthetically (i.e. by doing), but that people often are comfortable or uncomfortable with different "learning styles". But for me, I think that "learning styles" might be more about communication styles.

What follows from my belief is an aphorism: "If the students aren’t moving, they aren’t learning." (If you ever take a dance class, measure the amount of time a teacher is talking vs how much the students are moving.) In many ways dancing is similar to playing music, (intuitive skill, rhythm, musicality, etc), although dance tends to be about large muscles…

I’m not really informed on the debate within psychology/education. I definitely find people who do or don’t get what my words are telling them, or do or don’t see what I am doing. I also teach people who immediately start telling me what they think I said. Like I said, I think these differences are communication styles, and tell us more about comfort and habits than actual learning styles.

Adults have a lifetime of coping and succeeding (or not) with life and school. Going through the education system, you get trained and rewarded to ingest information in particular ways. I believe there is research on actual brain differences between pre-literate cultures, reading-cultures, and video-sensitized cultures.


There IS such a thing as "Dance Notation", but the concept is foreign and bizarre to me. I would never teach or try to learn via dance notation, nor even those Fred Astaire foot-prints!

Translating some of my ideas to playing music.

I think ALL of us actually play by ear, because (1) that is what we are doing, and (2) there is no other way to hear or "get" the feel for the music. Some of us (me included) are more comfortable using the assistance (or crutch) of reading the notes. However, I am becoming more comfortable with picking tunes up by ear now that I have a bigger vocabulary of the typical elements and phrases and as gain skill with my instrument.

I do agree that reading notes on a page puts an additional step between my brain and my fingers.

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I ‘learned’ at school how to read music and play to the notes. But I largely ignored this because I could already, from a much earlier age, roughly play any tune that I heard. I don’t remember ever ‘learning’ to do that. It just came naturally to me because there was a piano in the room and I had a harmonica. So I could never see much point in note reading (though I can do it).

re.. "I believe there is research on actual brain differences between pre-literate cultures, reading-cultures, and video-sensitized cultures." ….Yes, but that is measurement after the fact. It proves nothing here.

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Regarding the popularity of "learning styles" in the education system - as someone who missed it’s heyday and has just got into teaching recently, the only context I hear learning styles mentioned is as "the now-discredited learningn styles model", as a warning not to get sucked into the latest educational trends in case they go "the same way as learning styles" - this may vary from country to country, though.
As for reading notation and ear learning, personally I found, once the basics of how notation works and hearing scale degrees is learned, the absolute best practice for combining both of these skills sometimes seen as opposites is to notate tunes a lot. At first it may take forever going note by note, continually pausing the music, but once I had notated a few tunes right through, I found both my reading and listening had vastly improved.

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When I was at school and taught to read music by playing the recorder, I cheated by just playing what I heard everybody else play. I was eventually selected along with a fellow student to represent the school in some music festival, but once the teacher put the sheet music in front of me and found out that I couldn’t sight read I was kicked out of the recorder band. That pissed me off a lot, but then I really believe that if I had been forced to play music by learning from the sheets I would have never evolved any passion or skill for it whatsoever. We do all learn in different ways, whether it suits the teachers or not. Maybe if the ‘learning style model’ in education has been discredited it reflects a lack of flexibility in the teachers. But then I’m biased because 99% of my own teachers were utter rubbish.

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The case against ‘learning styles’ seems strong. But what about the rest of Reverend’s question? "whether people are really predisposed to one style or another… Is it nature or nurture?"

We are all different and if it was something that relied on physique I find it hard to believe that both nature and nurture are not involved. Consider if, for sport or survival, a mixed bunch of people have to cross a piece of ground in which the difference in time between scrambling over rocks, swimming a lake or running round one or the other was, on average, small. Would natural physique make a difference in the choice of route?

Are we born with different aptitudes?

From the way these discussions go many of us stick to what suites us, and may defend it. If it’s a walk in the park we will do what, for one reason and/or the other, we prefer. But if there was sometimes a predator behind us might it be a good idea for the natural runners to practice scrambling, and vice versa?

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"Is it nature or nurture?" … I believe this to be an unnecessary dichotomy.

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"I believe this to be an unnecessary dichotomy" I guess you mean in the context of the people here who discuss how to do tunes better? Maybe so. Most of us are probably too old for nurture not to be dominant.

But if we do start off with brains that are not quite the same I think it would by useful for us and the communities we live in to both build on what we are comparatively good at and to put some extra effort in to some of the things that we don’t take to so well.

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Innate abilities factor in at some point — but I don’t think anyone studying cognition has been able to elucidate how, although we all know it’s a thing. Alex Honnold climbs better than I do because he trains like a beast and I d*ck about at the climbing wall once a month or so and climb trad a little bit in the summer, but even if I trained really hard, I still wouldn’t be Alex Honnold. I have friends who do train seriously to improve their climbing, and they’re pretty good, but not in the same galaxy as Alex, either.

With trad music, I definitely feel as if I have plateaued, which sort of decreases motivation to practice. With enough dedication and work, you can get basically competent at something, but unless there’s some innate ability, you’ll hit a wall eventually.

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> We do all learn in different ways, whether it suits the teachers or not.

I rather think you’re putting the passionate cart before the skilful horse. I don’t question your experience for a second, but your story is "I got good at ear learning and didn’t want to learn to sight read". I don’t see anything in there that suggests you couldn’t. Had you wanted to, you would have learnt to sight read, probably very well.

> Innate abilities factor in at some point

I make the point to my students that you can never compare yourself to the 1%, because they did everything right, had the right experiences, were hungry for it *and* they were genetic freaks. What I do think is that anyone willing to make an effort to improve can get pretty damned close, with the right instruction. The instruction part is the bit often missed out by the people doing lots of work.

I looked up Alex Honnold to see what age he started (5!) but I also found this quote that I think says more than anything else:

"I was never, like, a bad climber [as a kid], but I had never been a great climber, either," he says. "There were a lot of other climbers who were much, much stronger than me, who started as kids and were, like, instantly freakishly strong – like they just have a natural gift. And that was never me. I just loved climbing, and I’ve been climbing all the time ever since, so I’ve naturally gotten better at it, but I’ve never been gifted."

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I haven’t read everything above. To be fair & give full disclosure I have not clicked on the links.
Usually I do because they might have the most significant information about what the person posting the
link wants to get across. Maybe later if I choose to read the entire thread & all the information in the links.
But right now I’m trying a new approach to keep mostly on the forum & post fewer outside links.
Not easy since the natural order for online civilisation is the ubiquitous hyperlink. But this way if someone doesn’t click on the link, or clicks but only skims it the discussion can still happen right here.

Just now something which struck me was Tom Stermitz’s bit about ‘communication’ and varying interpretation of what’s being said. Spot on, Tom. Also when you posted this, "I believe there is research on actual brain differences between pre-literate cultures, reading-cultures, and video-sensitized cultures."
It’s amazingly similar to something I posted from **Fintan Vallely about the ‘ages’ of music
which coincidentally happens to be in one of the threads I will post below.

Thanks again, Reverend for posting. I find much of the discussion has been said before over the years. That’s okay but I personally don’t want to add my 2 cents unless I think someone reading the thread now might benefit. And whether you lot believe me or not; I’m not big on arguing, debating or speculating. Sorry for being preachy.

For now the best I can do is post about how someone else appraoched this topic during his stint on the Mustard. Despite what I said above you lot are just going to have to read his replies, because I think it might be worth your time & effort to go there.


Re: learning styles [discussions/112]
Posted on September 27th, 2001 by Will

Re: For those that struggle with learning music by ear…
Posted on April 17th, 2011 by Will

** in "The Companion to Irish Traditional Music" Vallely describes ‘The Three Ages of Music’
You can message me if you want more information. It’s a bit off topic here though. Also on
Google Books if you can get the page by searching.


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"Most of us are probably too old for nurture not to be dominant."
I’m not so sure - as counterintuitive as it may first seem, I seem to remember having read that some studies suggest the older we get the less of an influence early education has, and the more we revert back to our underlying genetic potential or something of that nature. Certainly, the older I get, for better or for worse I feel inescapably drawn into being more or less a mix of both parents - much more than I did a decade or two ago!

"Maybe if the ‘learning style model’ in education has been discredited it reflects a lack of flexibility in the teachers."
I think it was less the teachers that discredited it and more continuing trends in research overturned it. And I think / hope it’s generally been replaced not by teachers sticking to just one way of teaching, but realising that every pupil can benefit from getting things explained in a variety of ways, sometimes simultaneously. And learning styles could be inflexible itself in cases where a teacher or child categorises them as being one type of learner and it becomes a self-fulfilling and limiting prophesy.

Re: Learning styles

I’ll only say that I got my teaching credential in the 1980s and what I was taught was all the rage at that time, enough so that it got encoded into California law.

However California education has a long history of becoming enamoured with science-theory fads and sometimes they turn out to be hogwash and are abandoned as quickly as they were embraced.