The "T" Word and Success

Talent vs. Hard Work, Grit, Determination, Passion

Talent. The innate ability to do something well. While it can be valuable, it is good to remember that talent alone is not always going to lead to success. But, there are still those on the outside of our industry who see talent as the main piece to how someone achieves their professional aspirations. This can be harmful in retaining students and interest in the arts as a hobby for those who might have a bit of passion for it. For example, it can drive students away from continuing to take lessons when, from their societal understanding of the field, they don’t think they have the innate ability to have what it takes to be successful. Instead, we can focus on these other areas below to continue developing skills that can eventually lead to success down the road more so than talent alone!


💜 Passion: Why do you love what you do or what specific part of it are you most fascinated by? Is it teaching students to play their favorite songs? Is it performing with others in chamber music or in orchestra? Working with composers to develop new works for your instrument? Or fighting to create inclusiveness, diversity, access, and equity in the arts through your innovative ideas? Or what about leading an organization? Finding your passion helps to give you a “Why” for getting out of bed and continuing to put in the hours of work to reach your definition of success. 


💜Collaboration: Working or playing with others can help in growing and developing your skills. Sometimes playing with musicians who are better than you can help you to “get it” better or can inspire you to continue practicing music that is really hard for you. Collaboration can also mean having conversations about the arts and what you want to do with your careers. Or working with others on a project you’re all passionate about developing and can use your different skills to make it something amazing! You can learn so much from others and what they have to offer.


💜Hard, Deliberate Work: Have you found ways to practice that work well for you to make progress in furthering your craft? Practice intelligently in a way that maximizes the time you have to dedicate to what you do. Don’t mindlessly “practice” for hours on end, but instead find ways to focus your work so it is efficient and effective towards how you learn best! Find ways to track your progress and consistently show up to do the work.

💜Nurture and Support: Having an encouraging support network can be really beneficial, too, especially early on. If you are teaching young students, be supportive of their progress, regardless of how small it is. Your students need you to recognize the work that they are putting in and for you to show positive reinforcement that they are doing well. As an adult, having supportive friends, colleagues, and family can really help, too! You can help contribute to this culture by congratulating your peers when they nail a hard solo in an ensemble, showing up to local performances and recitals, checking in with your friends to see how they are doing, listening to mock auditions or performances, and more.

Looking for further inspiration to keep you working hard towards your goals? Check out our resources page for ways to Spark your Music Career, the 5 Day Recording Challenge, Guide to Practice Design, and more!

Written by Anna Dunlap, 7/23/2023

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