Up to this point, it has been believed by many that our greatest musicians and composers are born with something magical that gives them what it takes to excel. This magical “gift” is something you either have or don’t have.
This couldn’t be more false.
The Talent Myth
The definition of “talent” or “giftedness” by most people is that it is the ability to do something specific (like reading and playing music) better than most people can and that it is something you are born with.If you are not born with this innate natural talent, then it’s too bad. You won’t be able to acquire it.
This explains why others can do things we consider to be difficult very easily, why higher performers are so rare, and why excellence in music sometimes comes at a very early age.
Do you know why else we like to believe this stuff? Because it explains why we are just average…we just simply weren’t born with the right genes.
In my opinion, this is a cop out and I don’t believe it for one minute.
My Own Experience
If you look at my family, I am the only person that can read music and play an instrument. Actually, I can play several instruments, but that is beside the point.
How is it that I went on to college to receive two degrees in music and made it a life-long career while not one person in my family knows anything about music?
Am I adopted? (The answer is no, by the way.)
If musical talent is something you are born with, you would think that someone else in my family would have taken an interest in music and excelled at in many ways too.
I am a living example that your genes don’t really matter when it comes to music.
The Truth About Talent
The reason why some people can excel in reading and playing music more than others is because they have put in a lot of hard work.
They have discovered the secret of focused practice. Many researchers have coined this phenomenon as “deliberate practice”, but I still like to think of this as focused practice instead.
Focused practice is doing a set of well-defined activities far beyond the point at which most people give up.
In other words, your success is a result of 99% hard work. You get extremely good at something because you work at it in a very intentional way.
This is not something that most of us do every day. That would explain why only a few people actually excel in music.
Focused practice is difficult. It hurts mentally and it’s not fun, but it works. In fact, the more you do it, the better you get.
Uncovering the Myth
High achievement in music isn’t reserved for the few who are genetically engineered for it. It’s available to anyone and everyone who is willing to pay the price.
If we can learn how to harness the principles of focused practice and leave behind the talent myth, then we can do anything we want to do and do it well!
The real question is not about whether or not you have been born with musical talent, but about if you are really willing to do what it takes to get better at it.
Don’t let any kind of false belief hold you back from doing anything you want to do and becoming anyone you want to become. Greatness is just around the corner…