Those Who Can’t: Why the Best Teachers Aren’t Always “Talented”

By Miranda Wilson

There’s an old saying, “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.” Teachers love to hate this expression.

It’s obviously insultingly reductive, but sometimes I wonder if there’s something in it. Even if, like Shinichi Suzuki, you believe that talent is not inborn and that anyone can develop their ability, the fact remains that some people play music better than others. Even if you account for the quality of their teachers, instruments, and practice habits, there are people who simply pick up physical concepts more quickly than others.

You might say those people have a special kind of physical intelligence. The same kind that makes you physically coordinated, or good at sports.

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