It sometimes reminds me, this debate, of what I also hear from musicians (or even artists).
Some musicians are naturally talented and they do quite well for themselves while never having a lesson or learning to read music. They go on to great and fulfilling careers.
However, some of them, if presented with an opportunity to expand their horizons and play in a studio session or structured band - they're lost. Reading the changes to the music, learning their assigned part, making notes of changes - it's all a foreign skill. They don't always have the crutch of listening to and mimicking the part by ear. They have to read the part as it is written and then play it for the first time themselves.
Some musicians will talk about not having had formal lessons like it's a badge of honor - that somehow theirs was a special creativity that shined through which would have been suffocated if they'd learned to read music and took lessons. They convince themselves they're actually better off *because* they never had formal lessons.
However, I think, more often than not, it's secretly a pre-emptive defensive attitude designed to cover up the fact they can't read or write music and have to avoid the opportunities they could have if only they knew how.
Sure, there's some brilliant natural talents out there and everyone can point out the few exceptions to the rule. However, adding to your knowledge and talent rarely hurts chances but often opens more doors. One just has to confront the fear that gets worse year after year falling behind brings with it.
I think sometimes labeling one's self as the exception that, in the end, makes one a solo outcast.
Learning variables aside, learning HOW to learn is still important and I think it's often the first thing to suffer in any "dropout" type of situation.
[This message has been edited by Dan Mowry (11/18/2009)]