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Natural Talent

by David James

A musician is by nature an emotional sort of person. I think it attracts people of a highly sensitive nature, who need to learn to play so they can express that emotion.

Because of this, I think we can fall prey to a few psychological conditions that make our progress as musicians much more difficult than it needs to be. One of these conditions is the chronic mood of doubt, which manifests itself as the spoken or unspoken question of "Do I have any Natural Talent for this?" "Am I kidding myself here, thinking I can learn to play like these obviously talented players I hear, who make me feel so inadequate?"

Well, I have learned a few things about this subject of "natural talent", and I think they would be good and useful things to share with the aspiring players out there.

Natural Talent is a pre-disposition in the mind and the body, to do the right thing. When a person who has natural talent for singing hears someone sing, their body and mind "know" what that person is doing to get that sound. And their body/mind knows how to do it too, or how to begin moving in that direction. (They don't have to know this consciously, that is "know what they know, and how they know it, they just "know"). Some people go for lessons, and they "tend" to do everything right, from sitting comfortably with the instrument, to positioning and using the fingers. Some people do everything wrong, and must be shown, painstakingly and minutely, exactly what to do.

Understand that everyone falls somewhere in between the two extremes of total cluelessness, and being a genius. Yes, I have some talent, as do many people. If I didn't work really hard, it would have got me nowhere. I needed a whole lot of education to go with that talent. So did Beethoven, who studied with Haydn, and so did Bach, who spent his life copying out the music of composers he admired, in order to study their work. So did Eric Clapton, who spent years copying every blues record he could find.

Having "talent" is not the primary factor in whether or not you will become a good or great player. Your burning desire and desperate need to play, coupled with the correct understanding and approach, are the most important things you must have.

There are lots of people with talent, but not a lot who allow their desire to grow, and become powerful. If you can allow yourself to feel this need and desire, and use the power of that to overcome all the obstacles you might encounter along the way, you will find all the talent you need to be the player you are meant to be.

The views and opinions in this blog post are those of its author.

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