I recently read an article that discussed the idea of natural-born talent as a myth. I’m undecided as to whether or not I believe that natural talent is a myth, but I certainly agree that hard work can make up for where talent may lack. I even more firmly believe that working hard can and will lead to greater success than relying on mere talent.

The premise of the article is that all children have comparable skills at a young age, for example, that of drawing. It is only with practice and encouragement that some begin to excel at whatever skill. If one finds value in developing an ability, then it will get attention, time and, in result, that skill will see improvement.

The author claims that it is this early dedication that is frequently confused with “talent.” We often learn in small increments that are hardly noticeable, “talent” which has in fact developed slowly may sometimes appear to have blossomed over night.

It also states that anyone “with reasonable practice can learn in the hands of the right teacher, the right method and the right media.” Becoming excellent is merely a matter of practice. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether talent is natural or developed, but I really think the thing to take away from this article is the fact that we can do anything we set our minds to if we invest the time and practice.

If you hope to acquire a skill, such as that of songwriting or improvisation, the best way to go about it is to work at it. The simple act of doing something with dedication enables us to improve bit by bit so that we develop talent as musicians and performers. It is important to have patience when developing a new skill, because as mentioned earlier, it is sometimes hard to measure improvement on a day to day basis.

A perfect example of this is in performance itself. The first few times you perform you’re nervous, uncomfortable, fearful that you’ll make a mistake and embarrass yourself somehow. But as we get more and more performances under our belts, that nervousness and fearfulness start to go away (for the most part). Experiencing performance in a variety of settings overtime not only eliminates any hesitations we may have, but even on occasion creates an environment we are comfortable being in.

With practice, time and dedication you can compose, perform or play anything you want. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.

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Published by Shannon Kennedy

Shannon Kennedy is a vocalist and saxophonist living in Southern California. She is author of "The Album Checklist" and the founder of Teen Jazz. She has been contributing articles to music magaizines and websites since 2004.