"Talent" and "being born with it"

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by Katoosie, Jul 19, 2021.

  1. Katoosie


    Jun 12, 2020
    So here is something I have been thinking about.

    I got talking to one guy some weeks ago about instruments and I have mentioned that I play the bass.

    His response was something akin to 'i wish I was that talented'.

    Being talented...

    I don't think having talent is a thing. I think with practice, repetition, studying and playing you can be as skilled at music and playing and instrument as anyone else.

    I was watching an interview with Jaco Pastorius and he said that he was born with "it", and you know, maybe he was... But then he said he spent hours upon hours just practicing and playing and studying.

    I personally do not believe in talent, it's just work. I would say that I do not have any ability that I have had when I was born, instead I practice and put the hours in and eventually i get better.

    The whole concept of being talented and someone telling me that I am talented is lowkey insulting because it implies that I havent worked hard for my ability to play, which I have.

    Do you share similar views on this? Or do you believe something else?

  2. J_Bass

    J_Bass Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2008
    Porto, Portugal
    Talent exists, being born with it, too. In my opinion.

    But it accomplishes nothing (or a fraction of what it could) without work and study.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2021
  3. Gorn


    Dec 15, 2011
    Queens, NY
    I really disagree. Not everyone, and certainly not most people, can excel at a particular task no matter how much work they put in. It’s genetics. You can be great at some things with no effort and suck at some things despite years of hard work. You can get better if you work at it, but that’s not universal.
  4. Jeff Scott

    Jeff Scott Rickenbacker guru..........

    Apr 11, 2006
    The lizard dude hit the nail on the head.
  5. lokikallas

    lokikallas Supporting Member

    Aug 15, 2010
    los angeles
    I've played with people who were gifted with immense talent, but a little lazy. I've played with people that were not particularly talented, but busted their butts to sound great. Most of us are somewhere in between, and some elite few are the ones with both going for them.
  6. Killing Floor

    Killing Floor Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2020
    Austin, TX
    People are not all the same. What we are born with is a set of cognitive abilities that can vary from person to person. You can't be born with the ability to play an instrument but you can be born with a stronger ability to process sound patterns. Just like some people can draw but not sculpt, or sculpt but not sing. Or drum but not pass calculus. Or play a fretless jazz bass like a virtuoso but not be able to pick out a decent outfit. Or be a virtuoso and not be able to relate to other people.
  7. BassDaddy77


    Feb 12, 2010
    NE Ohio
    I look at the "it" as natural ability. Yes, some folks have natural ability. And of them, some will develop their ability, and others won't. I wouldn't take offense to anyone who said you were talented though. I doubt they mean to suggest you don't have to work hard at it. They're probably just trying to give a compliment.
  8. Jefenator

    Jefenator Supporting Member

    Aug 22, 2008
    I know a guy who performs music at a level that an average person could never match, no matter how hard they try. (Alas, some other basic life skills can lag pretty badly - not sure I'd want to trade places with him.)
    I also think a few people might qualify as having "no" musical talent.
    IME most of us fall somewhere in between. And within the world of active performers, everyone has their own unique set of strengths & weaknesses.
  9. gidbass

    gidbass Supporting Member

    Aug 5, 2009
    hard work beats talent that doesn't work hard... ;)
  10. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
  11. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    There is no question in my mind that innate talent exists. There is also no question that working hard is important. A Jaco arises once in a lifetime when someone with that level of talent marries that to hard work.
    bpc, DeltaTango, Doublesixes and 20 others like this.
  12. NOVAX


    Feb 7, 2009
    Talent and potential are two vastly different things
  13. ficelles


    Feb 28, 2010
    Devon, England
    Hard work pays off but you need some natural talent to work with imo.
  14. bass12

    bass12 Grace under pressure Supporting Member

    Jun 8, 2008
    Montreal, Canada
    Sometimes, but definitely not always. I’ve known several musicians who have worked really hard but they still don’t have that elusive quality which would make you want to listen to them. :D
  15. oldcatfish


    Jan 8, 2011
    —Totally disagree with you here. I used to teach bass and guitar on a part time basis. Some people just learn quickly, some have a natural sense of rhythm, and some have a great ear for pitch. A few have none of those attributes, and even less excel at all of them. But
    I totally disagree with you. Just like basketball or any other activity. No matter how hard a person works…not everyone can become a professional level basketball player. Some people are just born with an ability to more quickly master a musical instrument. But they still have to work hard to excel.
  16. kesslari

    kesslari Groovin' with the Fusion Cats Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2007
    Santa Cruz Mtns, California
    Lark in the Morning Instructional Videos; Audix Microphones
    I knew a kid who had been playing guitar for 2 years and was sounded like he'd been headlining with major acts for 10 years. Amazing talent coupled with hard work. Much like Jaco, as he is described, in that way.
    And I've known people who had the love and the desire and had not been "kissed by God" with a even shred of natural ability. They had to work 10 times as hard to sound 1/10 as good as an average player. With a lot of hard work they could get by.
    But most of us fall somewhere in the middle. We have basic abilities in varying quantities but such that how hard we work will determine how well we play in relationship to our peers.
  17. You will like this book: Talent Is Overrated by Geoff Colvin. He makes the case for many other reasons why people are successful besides being "born with it"
  18. bikeplate

    bikeplate Supporting Member

    Jun 7, 2001
    Upstate NY
    Disagree. Some people dont have a good ear and will never have “it”. Same goes for sports. I was a good athlete when I was young and a low handicap golfer now. There are just people who will never be good at certain things and others that can get good quickly at something. God given talent as my mom always says
  19. MIMike


    Jan 1, 2013
    West MI
    I always wanted to be the fastest guy on the track team, but no matter how hard I worked at it, that lazy guy that was gifted with more speed and athletic ability than me could always outrun me.
    The more talent you have for something from the start, the better chance you have at really being good at it. The harder you work at refining that talent, the better you will be.
    It can be frustrating when some people are good at something w/o even trying. Happens in sports, music…many things in life. But, that IS life…you just have to find your place and work hard at the things you decide are important to you.
  20. mexicanyella


    Feb 16, 2015
    Troy, MO
    I agree with this, in the OP’s described situation I’d interpret the “talent” remark as sort of a shortcut to a compliment: well-intended but easy to toss OP’s way without having to process or understand much. In other words, like most compliments.

    I think there are people who would like to be viewed as talented, and might feel slighted if someone seemed to imply that their success came at the cost of dogged hard work. Kind of like saying, “well, he/she tried really hard.”

    I guess the ultimate flattery, no chance of offense, would be getting asked some knowledgeable questions with concise appreciative comments about one’s playing, which left no doubt that interested listening took place.

    But then there’s the risk of “stalker/groupie alert!!!”

    Maybe just ignore musicians? No, there’s issues there too...
    Katoosie likes this.
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