gjm,gjm wrote: I would say that there is nothing that can be equal. You may find two individuals who actually put in 10k hours practice time, but there are so many other determining factors that control how much mastery over your chosen instrument your obtain, greatness or legendary status aside. Playing an instrument is a massive multitasking operation which challenges motor skills, listening skills, counting skills and comprehension skills. The abilities or inabilities of the body and mind through developmental stages shows up very easily how disadvantaged some people are over others. Yes, through massive effort you can make some gains over your personal limitations, but it is all within the context of your personal make up. The way you are 'wired' has built in limits. Some people are 'wired' in a way that they can very easily access, control and nurture their development, not only in music but in many areas of their lives. Others simply cannot.
The way you describe music is like it's a chess match, there is no such thing as luck in Chess, only mistakes. You lose by making the wrong moves. Music is not that clinical.
Music is an art form, art while having some rules doesn't have to follow them, this applies to the people who like art as well. We don't have to like the most famous artist, or the most technically skilled, and "the most creative" is to a large degree subjective. What you emphasize is this technical side, then seemingly mesh it into the creative side with indications that you think the creative process is a genetic component.
Yes people can be gaged to a degree on muscle dexterity even after hours of practice. No, you can't and shouldn't make any judgement on that persons ability creatively because of their muscle dexterity. Outstanding technical skill is great for a classical violinist, and in the modern age, not necessary, in fact it's never been necessary for the creative side. We've always had pen and paper, and now we have these computer things. Personally I'm always writing things that are on the edge of what I can actually play as a mediocre keyboard player, and I have no problem with that, it's as it should be. We live in a time when if you had it in you to create music and ended up in a chair as a quadriplegic you could still write.
Just saying, again, technical skill does not equal creativity, it helps of course, but it's not an indicator. Plenty of great classical musicians who cannot write, not even simple compositions. Plenty of musicians with limited physical dexterity on their instruments who manage to be creative.