Talent Is Only The Starting Point

Talent Is Only The Starting Point

Irving Berlin Quote

Talent Is Only The Starting Point; Irving Berlin recognising that precocious talent must work hard to avoid the wrong turn into Tumbleweed city

We've seen them take the plaudits, we've stood in awe at the ease of such early success and we waited with great anticipation for the next chapter in the prestigious young protégés climb up the ladder of success, but then we wait and wait and wait.

Somehow the talented youngster took a wrong turn into Tumbleweed city and the early promise shown remains just that, promise.

This is a tale so often repeated yet it is a tale that can be avoided because it is a lesson that has not been learnt from the multitude of talent playing second rate gigs when they should have been head lining.

Natural talent is within everyone, it is just more noticeable in the sporting arena or on the stage where performance counts. This talent stands out when you are young, you feel like you are on top of the world and it is a wonderful feeling for any youngster to be lucky enough to enjoy.

Once noticed, the process of nurturing the talent to help it flourish is tough but more often than not the protégé is willing to sacrifice time and show the required commitment to reach the first level of success. The work ethic is drummed into the aspiring talent and long sessions of training are endured because the goal is in sight.

Then early success is achieved and the feeling is fantastic, this could be a sporting success, winning a talent competition, securing a recording contract or even acquiring a successful business outcome, the world is at your feet and it is the decisions made right now that will determine the overall success of your future.

The big danger is the precocious talent may want some time to 'enjoy' the moment and if the enjoyment gains momentum then it is usually very difficult to reverse this course and get back on track. The momentum of the successful formula should have been maintained and expanded.

Welcome To The Bottom Rung Of The Ladder


Once a precocious talent reaches their first level of success they should be force fed the notion that they have only just started, this is in fact the bottom rung of the ladder, if you want long term success then the real work starts here.

Talent Is A Natural Born Asset It Is Not The Key To Your Success.


Some young musicians are so talented they only need to hear a song one time and they can play it, they have a musical ear for the note and this is a talent not a skill, if they maintain the talent by constantly using it it becomes a skill.

Getting the talented to the highly skilled level is a long and arduous journey, but it is a worthwhile journey because the benefits and rewards are so high.

Once that level of skill is attained the talent inside you is what really comes to the fore, all of a sudden everything seems so natural and your creative side feels more alive.

Creativity is something that cannot be pushed, it can however be encouraged by removing as many barriers as can be musically imagined.

One barrier to a creative musician is a lack of musical understanding or a denial that it is required, once a musician is as comfortable with jazz as they are reggae, rock and blues then their understanding of what can be achieved is heightened.

Young musicians tend to concentrate on the music they love and they will mature to be good musicians, great musicians have studied all genres of music and their musical ear and knowledge gives them an ability to fit seamlessly into all styles of music.

How do you expect to play new music if you do not know and understand old music?


Just like knowledge is power to the politician, in musical terms knowledge is fuel to the creative artist, the more the artist knows the greater the scope for their creativity.

Next is attitude, music seems to be the only industry where a bad attitude can work in your favour, just don't expect a long career out of it unless it is only a stage persona and the business side of your attitude actually rocks.

The Ego Of The Artist Is The Enemy Of The Artist


Talent only gets you so far, it is the hard work and long hours that achieve the long term success. This is the hurdle so many talented individuals fail to grasp, the ego of the artist is the enemy of the artist, those that believe their talent is enough tend to fall by the wayside.

I fully understand that creativity cannot be forced but the really clever artists understand this and plan non creative activities that keep the dollars rolling in and the name fresh in peoples mind.

If you keep working and not focusing on creativity and more importantly not worrying about the creative side it will come back in a sudden moment of inspiration and all of a sudden you will find yourself unable to put your instrument or microphone down as those creative juices flow.

Irving Berlin is considered one of the foremost songwriters and composers in American musical history, he understood that being talented was not enough and that hard work and dedication to your profession were the key to long term success.

The advice in his quote; 'Talent is only the starting point' is not just true in the music industry but in sport and in business, in every walk of life you will only get back what you are prepared to put in and hard work and practice is the only requirement for success.

Michael Joseph


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Stupidity is a talent for misconception - Edgar Allan Poe