The Myth of Talent

We cannot deny that God gives gifts to people regardless of the fact that we may feel they do or don’t deserve it. History shows us that Mozart was a real scoundrel and Beethoven was an artist of high integrity. Both changed the foundation of music.

Sure, most things take a bit of talent. Whether it’s playing an instrument, writing novels, painting, playing sports, or having academic aptitude, anyone who is good at anything will probably admit to feeling as though they had a natural “gift” for it. Chances are, though, if you asked those people about their sharp skills, they would likely tell you about how much they worked to reach goals in their chosen discipline.

People throughout history we view as successful didn’t become that way purely because of an innate predisposition. Instead, they became successful through something much more modest than that. For example, Bill Gates spent hours of his adolescent years practicing programming, starting when he was just 13 years old. We know he went on to co-found Microsoft and lead a successful career. The Beatles became successful for a similar reason. Before hitting it big in their native Britain, the young band members played more than 1,200 times in Hamburg, Germany over the course of four years.

The thing that distinguishes one performer from another is how hard he or she works at it. The people at the very top don’t work just harder or even much harder than everyone else. They work much, much harder.

Unlike the romantic and lovable storylines great books and novels feed us, the reality is that “everyday” piano players don’t get “good” at piano because they were predisposed for it. They get better because they spend time practicing. To these artists, practice outweighs talent. All those people that always seem to be naturally “gifted” and better than you only appear better because they’ve put in the time.

Talent can offer a good head start and possibly even keep a musician on top for a while, but eventually, someone else will come along who has put in the work. To become a confident musician, you don’t have to have at least 10,000 hours invested, you simply need passion to improve. Talent really doesn’t make a musician – practice does.

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