"How do I become a virtuoso like you?" "For you, the answer is never."
August 27, 2017 10:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for a quote that I remember as something like this. I think it was in the musical context, where a beginner asked what he needed to do to become like the virtuoso. The virtuoso answered something like what I've put in the short question, I assume because the virtuoso possesses qualities that are innate. The point the virtuoso made is arguable of course, but I'd like to source the quote.
posted by grazer to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
It's a trope. An early example:
W. Somerset Maugham’s short story The Alien Corn (1931). George Bland studies piano for two years in Munich and, after returning to London, plays for Lea Markart, “the greatest women pianist in Europe.” Asked whether she thought that George could become a concert pianist, Lea Markart answers, “not in a thousand years.”
posted by Namlit at 10:59 PM on August 27, 2017

It's about algebra rather than music, but this Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal comic covers the same ground.
posted by ejs at 12:08 AM on August 28, 2017

I think I remember this type of conversation also occurring in the tv show "Mozart in the Jungle" between the young oboist Hailey, and more talented Betty during a private oboe lesson.
posted by alchemist at 1:55 AM on August 28, 2017 [1 favorite]

I just (today) came across a Zen version of this in the children's book Zen Socks. One of the characters wishes to become a master in swordsmanship, and asks another how long it will take. He is told, "I see that you cannot become a master." As the character continues to plead for tutelage and describe how hard he is prepared to work for it, he is given increasingly longer time frames - ten years, thirty, seventy. Though I doubt you came across this same story, it is clearly a traditional tale and most likely appears in parables. Maybe it was even in the Karate Kid or Kill Bill?
posted by dreamphone at 6:47 PM on August 28, 2017

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