Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Talent - Born or Bred?

Recently I attended a 3 day band conference in Singapore. One of the speakers was Professor Shuichi Komiyama (who is by the way an excellent and inspiring speaker) from Montana State University.

He shared with us a story of one of his students. This student has attention deficit disorder and whenever he comes to Prof Shuichi's class he would say, "I wanna play hockey, I wanna play hockey". He can never focus on one thing for more than a few minutes. But this person went on to the University of North Texas and graduated as the 1st tenor in the top Jazz band in the University.

The message that he wanted to bring across is that talent is bred and not born. If he had given up on the student, the student would not have become what he is today.

I shared this little story with my wife the other day. We both concluded that Prof Shuichi must have been able to identify the in born music talent in that student. Without that the student would not have gone that far as well. She asked me to imagine my brother-in-law, who is quite tone deaf, as a music arranger. He can put in hours of hard work to learn about song structures, come up with his own fixed systems of "hi-hats come in second verse", "strings come in the chorus" etc. But his work will be cookie-cutter type, lacking in that X-factor. He can be good at it, but he'll never be excel at it.

But in life, a person can only be excellent at one or two things. So if good's good enough, good's good.

There are still a couple of more things I want to be good at....

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