In this article, I will experiment with the notion of creating talent “from scratch”, as they say. It’s a hypothetical scenario of the highest order, but, why not? This is my article, after all.
One of the pillars of my teaching philosophy is, that following the right strategy we can assign a random disciple to any chosen person and actually make that person talented at it. Basically, what I mean by that, is that everyone is capable of becoming talented in any disciple; I don’t believe that there are “special people”; If Mozart was growing up in Africa, he wouldn’t have been the Mozart we perceive today.
If you have read through my articles, you’ll find that I strongly believe that the notion of talent was actually invented. It was invented by innocently gullible people who simply can’t do an action in the same way some other people can, and at the same time, they admire that action those people do. This “admired action” doesn’t necessarily have to be ethical, noble or generally politically or otherwise well perceived; often, we hear people say, he is a “talented thief”, or “he is a great gambler”.
So, talent is a simple admiration for a skill that we haven’t practised properly, in order to be able to reach a universally admired level of that skill. Talent is a trivial, non-important notion. If you could paint a person’s face and the depiction is so convincing like a mirror to that face, then, for some, you are talented. However, your painting immediately compared to Picasso’s abilities, and your talent loses at least half of its value. Oh, and I do not believe in auras, inclinations, flairs and all that nonsense.
So, can you instil talent? Can you make someone who is “untalented” per se in a disciple, to become “talented” in that disciple? Well, I believe you can, and I’ll try to explore this a bit in this article.
So, to recap, this, ludicrous for some task, entails to take any person in this world, and assign them with a random subject, and then use strategically the right techniques to make them talented at it.
So, let’s explore some of those techniques and try, if ever possible, to find the recipe for this word that I do not love (hate): “talent”. Why I hate the notion of talent? Let me save you some time – and years of psychotherapy and endless soul searching – by simply stating: because I’m not talented.
RECIPE FOR TALENT
The first thing we need to do in order to instil talent is simply to define what talent is for us or for the person who’s defining it.
You need to clearly have an idea of what is the universally level of talent in your given disciple.
For example, you might think that a child is talented in maths if by the age of 6 can answer how much is 2 plus 14. To another person, however, this might sound easy enough and so according to them, this child should not be considered talented in maths.
So, find what you consider to be “talented” and make this your ultimate target.
The second “ingredient” is time: Apparently, for some, life is ever-fruitful for all and there’s always time to do things even in the last minute before you give your last breath and this and that. WRONG! Wishful thinking all the way. I have to become a bit horrible here and say that, yes, you always need to be optimistic and have goals in life, but you should become vigilant and careful towards people who, in order for you to think that they care about you, they gently push you to try and achieve unachievable things. I have to protect you here. Macabre-alert follows:
Here’s a simple example out of zillions, that I (I = me, Nikos- Maybe you can do everything) cannot do whatever I wish and dream in life: Say that I am in car accident and I lost one leg and one arm, broke my ribs and I’m in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. While I’m losing blood uncontrollably, I overhear the driver whisper to the nurse next to him.”He’s not gonna make it tonight, his time is up”. Do you think the right thing for me to do is to jump up and say to the driver, “No, I’m not dying. No Siree Bob. I’m gonna become an astronaut! But that’s only after I gave my maiden solo violin recital at Carnegie Hall playing Bach’s complete solo works for the violin”. Now, I don’t have the slightest interest in attacking people who passed away from serious accidents or recovering from them, but do you think that I have the right to say those things to the driver? Do you think I have the right to express myself and have faith until the end? Of course, I have the right to do those things. That’s the point of the so called “hope”. I also have the right to dance the tango with Al Pacino in the original set of “Scent of a woman”…. but no, we need to be pragmatic in this short life of ours. It would be unethical to promise, say, to a ninety-five-year-old beginning pianist that they can become virtuoso pianists. Maybe they could become virtuoso triangle players, yes, but so sorry, not virtuoso pianists. No way. Maaaaybe, they might manage to play wonderfully a Sonata, if they are lucky, but to make them “Talented”, there’s no time I’m afraid.
Plus, you are not allowed to delude people. It’s not your business to lie to people. Yes, we should encourage and yes, we should give hope; but honest hope. We should always be honest. That’s more ethical than uncontrollably ask people to do things they simply can’t. Let me remind you just in case it slipped your mind, that we happen to be mere humans susceptible to mortality.
So, make sure there’s sufficient time left to basically live, and then ample time available in order to excel.
You need a top instructor if you want to make a stone play the banjo. You need top teaching in order to achieve talent; the better the teaching the more the chances for your guinea pig to become talented. That’s needless to say. Of course, not all teachers teach the same way, and not all teachers are of the same subjective quality, otherwise, we would only need one teacher for the rest of our lives.
Also, make sure that the teacher is not only top notch, but also “compatible” with the person that you want to make “talented”. For instance, I, Nikos, the writer of this article, can be a wonderful teacher with lots of knowledge in piano, one of the greatest minds to have emerged from the southeast of Europe, a food connoisseur and a Michelin star worthy cook, but be a crappy and horrendous teacher for a particular student.
So, the search for great but also compatible teaching is paramount.
You can’t become a professional basketball player if you practice on a low-height basketball hoop; it helps if you were practising on a proper terrain and with a basketball that has the universally accepted specifications.
You can’t become a talented cook if the ingredients available to you are always potatoes, salt, water and a pan; you need many more ingredients to practice cooking with, more appliances to master and more spices to enrich your cooking.
You can’t become an Olympic gold medalist in swimming if you only practice in a ten feet long swimming pool wearing armour. I think you get my gist.
Thus, talent dictates that we acquire the best possible equipment available for our expertise. This way, we accelerate the process of creating talent.
DESIRE (AKA love)
Even if your protégée had all the time in the world, the best teachers, the greatest strategists tailoring their every move, the best and most up to date equipment and a cruise ship, if your protégée couldn’t be bothered, then you won’t be able to infuse them with talent, I’m afraid.
Our protégée needs desire and love for excelling in its assigned subject.
And this is the hardest task you will have to accomplish in order to instil talent to someone. Because you cannot instil hunger, aka the unstoppable desire to do something. The desire is almost impossible to instil to a person. And to be honest, it’s not ethical to try to instil desire to start with. Desire should be left alone to flourish on each one of us, without pressure. However, for the purpose of this article, this is what we somehow need to do: instil desire; tough.
However, deep inside me I still believe that a person, who hasn’t got the desire to become talented at something, can still excel at that subject by just following the beaten track of the subject’s instructional zeitgeist.
Despite all this drivel above, I still believe somehow that you can drive someone to reach their highest personal level of potential at something.
Everyone of us is unique and everyone of us is talented at something, I suppose.
I just hope that the talent we carry can only be used for noble causes. Because talent can only create talent.
Special thanks: MaxPixel.freegreatpicture.com-Wood-Ant-Ant-Animal-Macro-Forest-Ant-Hill-Insect-1350089.jpg, for the image used.
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Nikos Kokkinis is a pianist and teacher.
He keeps up PianoPractising.com, a site dedicated to the optimal approach to learning the piano that is being read by thousands of readers. This site has helped a few readers realise their musical potential and improve their understanding of the piano and music in general.
Articles often contain fiction through narratives and one of their main purposes is to facilitate an enjoyable read, often by sacrificing established academic norms.
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