OK, I know an artist who is well known for her portraits, has picts. in the White House and all over.
Someone with no natural talent but a lot of determination and training can go far. Someone with a lot of natural talent but not a lot of determination or no training can possibly go far.
But neither will go as far as the person with both natural talent and determination and training.
So natural talent isn’t necessary for success, but the person with both is going to always
The original question(Natural Talent vs Passion & Determination) is very complicated and there is no easy answer. But here are a few observations from someone who has been around for a while.
No one is going to go very far(emphasis on VERY FAR) without talent, and lots of it. But there are lots of people who had lots and lots of talent who ultimately didn’t go anywhere with it for a variety of reasons. One of the most common I have observed is this: When a child shows an enormous gift for music(and I mean an ENORMOUS gift) it frequently ruins that child’s childhood. That child doesn’t have a childhood and becomes consumed, mostly from parental pressure, with the instrument and their ‘gift.’ By the time they reach early adulthood they are burned out and don’t have any desire to continue the instrument. I have observed this numerous times myself, and it’s a real tragedy.
There are other people who have natural talent(the ability to learn and understand music quickly, a natural dexterity, the ability to memorize at lightening speed, etc.) but don’t have any particular desire to pursue music. And so they won’t go very far.
Then there are people with little or no talent but enormous drive. Drive to succeed. Drive to be in the spotlight. Drive to play well. Whatever. They can succeed beyond anyone’s expectations, but still won’t be very good at what they do.
So in the end, the whole question is a complicated equation, with any number of components coming into play. And this makes it difficult if not impossible to predict who is ultimately going to succeed.
I don’t have a definitive answer but I will say this. I’ve been watching lots of harp vid on UTube. Some players (famous or not) are dead boring to watch and listen to while others have me entranced and it has nothing to do with the difficulty of the music or correctness of their playing.
Some players just seem to have the ability to connect to the music and bring it alive, even if the music is incredibly simple to play. Others can play well known “challenging repertoire” and the whole piece falls dead even though the notes are being played correctly. It’s like listening to a pianola, correct yes, alive no.
I personally believe the difference isn’t natural talent but passion. If you are merely skilled in a piece and play it correctly without ever having a passion for it, it will always sound dead and laboured.
My teacher Alice Chalifoux used to say that ” playing the harp well was 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration.” As a performer and teacher for over 20 years, I completely agree – but I do think there needs to be more inspiration.
I believe natural talent is essential and determination is crucial if you want to be successful in any of the arts. However, the passionate artist burns brighter than others and it is clear in their performances. Inspiration is born of deep desire and searching within one’s discipline -it can also arrive from outside your field in a very unexpected way. Determination comes naturally as it is fueled by passion to be complete in one’s chosen art form.
As a struggling student I worked very hard to catch up with some of my more brilliant colleagues. Some of these musicians were prodigies, some of them work-a-holics, and some of them blessed and lucky. But not all of these musicians became “Successful”. Many of them made other choices that made them happy and found “success” outside of performing. During my student years I learned the value of really hard work and the definition of excellence. To receive a compliment from your teacher or another famous musician was heaven. Working with other outstanding musicians was inspiring and highly motivating. I learned many valuable skills just observing their creative process. I was fortunate to train in a conservatory with so many talented musicians and the Cleveland Orchestra a few blocks away. As a professional harpist, I still learn from my colleagues and listen with a discerning ear. There is nothing more thrilling than hearing or being a part of a brilliant performance- it is transforming and lives within you forever. When you understand what it takes to get there it is even more gratifying. It raises the bar of excellence and you know great artistry when you hear it, see it, and feel it.
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