Being a semi-professional musician for almost two decades, and being married to another, has given me a lot of opportunities to interact with musically brilliant individuals.
After all these encounters, I believe that as a rough first-pass, you can break down musicians into two natural types. We'll call them the “left-brained”, and “right-brained” musicians (although most modern neuroscientists would likely take issue with that characterization).
For example, I am a “left-brained” musician. My strengths are:
- music composition theory and structure
- classical and electronic music
- math, science, and puzzles
My wife, by contrast, is a “right-brained” musician. Her strengths are:
- music improvisation
- playing by ear
- jazz and popular music
- visual arts and spacial skills
Don't get me wrong, many musicians are superb all-around, but I find that's often the result of years of practice and most musicians will admit which “side” of their talent comes naturally and which side they struggle with.