Cultivating natural talent
Apropos the recent discussion about the place of formal training in the development of people who seem to possess native or natural ability, Sue C. Smith, a songwriter who does a lot of (good) work in southern gospel, wrote this recently in passing as part of a longer post about making Christmas gifts:
I don’t know if I’d call my self an “expert” in songwriting, but I’ve certainly invested a lot of time, money, and energy in learning about it. And it’s always funny to me when people act like writing is just a talent that you have or you don’t have and you can either do it or you can’t. So it never really occurs to them that writing is a craft that you practice and you get better at the more you study and work and sacrifice.
Replace “songwriting” with “singing” or “playing” and Smith pretty much sums up my thinking in this matter. Obviously people can possess a great deal of talent, more than enough so that they can succeed without any formal training. Often, though, when people talk up someone’s “God given” ability, it’s a way to implicitly or explicitly suggest that getting formal training is vaguely anti-Christian or at least besmirches God’s gift and diminishes one’s giftedness, which is in fact just nonsense (not to mention a way for a person to turn obstinancy and laziness into a mark of spiritual heroism). As Smith suggests, training will only HELP people with natural ability get better and better - but only if they want to.Email this Post