Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Robert Emery, a concert-pianist turned conductor and Musical Director. He’s worked at venues from London’s Royal Albert Hall to the Sydney Opera House and with some of the top names in the world of music such as the UK’s best-selling classical artist Russell Watson and Stewart Copeland, drummer from The Police. He’s also the host of Backstage with Robert Emery, a new podcast featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with star musicians and top-level performers.

If you’re a member of Musical U or familiar with this show then you’ll know we have a pretty firm stance on the idea of musical “talent” and its implications for the adult music learner. We’re always excited when we have the chance to interview someone who’s considered “talented” or “gifted” and see what we can learn from their backstory and their own attitude to music learning.

On paper, Robert’s a classic case of the child prodigy, a talented musician who saw great success at an incredible pace as both a pianist and then a conductor. We wouldn’t for a second detract from that or question his amazing abilities. But as you’ll be hearing, there is some interesting subtlety to the story. And as Robert would be the first to tell you, all of his accomplishments and the praise he receives – it has been earned through hard work, not just an effortless “gift”.

He’s also a very experienced music teacher and so has some very helpful insights and advice for the adult music learner in particular.

We talk about:

  • How to choose the right instrument – and how to know whether you have or not.
  • The particular challenges of learning music as an adult and how to overcome them – the pep talk he used to give his new adult students on day one that proved to be worth its weight in gold for them.
  • Robert’s views on talent, nature versus nurture, and what that means for the average adult music learner.


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Conductor and Musical Director, Robert Emery shares his views on talent, nature versus nurture, and what that means for the average adult music learner.