Talent, innate or input?

Talent approach

Some thirty years ago, Anders Ericsson discarded the idea of talent being innate. That was the time when major scientific research had shown that our bodies and minds can be “stretched” endlessly if trained in specific ways. Individual top performances in very diverse fields offer the living proof that excellence is a result of perseverance and training, which is something no talent can duly compensate. That said, tens of thousands of training sessions will not turn us into god gifted performers. It is not the routine that moulds the talent, or intuitive urge to do better. It is the willingness to improve, to go beyond your own boundaries and step out of that comfort zone. Only then will that undefinible spark possibly turn into a guiding light.
A source of inspiration that must be fed continually. Whether it leads to being a dedicated amateur or, in some rare cases, the perfect fusion between the art and its performer, the rewards are virtually endless. After all, nothing worthwhile comes easy.

Talent shift

Recent years have also seen a shift in the way we tend to describe the concept of “talent”, regardless of the field in which the talent reveals itself.

The above paragraph already hinted at it, the secret lives of that many neuronal connections is a marvel that is no longer regarded as unexplainable, there is no plasticity like that of the human brain. Its many potential threads, intertwined with every possible cultural feed that any individual can be bathed in, do offer us new insights in how to create opportunities that favor any given talents.

Of course, as in any other field of expertise, music education can test people’s specific musical abilities. It goes without saying, there is no watertight guarantee that talents waiting to be discovered, will inevitably be nourished. The above cultural feed also entails a potential error margin that may just as well smother talent.

mix cannot but be fully aware of that cultural dichotomy. As always, music itself is revelatory as it projects itself and its trustees into the future. Whenever gloomy forecasts should cloud our skies, there is always this reliable and powerful antidote: this incredible world of music we can offer through music education will always inspire and motivate.

Today, we define talent in terms of the individuality of each person. This is where the shift lies, in nurturing the unique talents and individual drive of each person.

Read more about the individual approach of students? Watch and listen to this contribution from a student:

What about differentiation?


Ericsson, K. Anders, Robert Pool, en Conny Sýkora. 2017. Piek: hoe gewone mensen buitengewoon kunnen presteren.