No such thing as “TALENT”

Success at your vocal art means dedicating yourself to more than just one thing –says Mister Tim

When speaking of singers, actors, athletes, and artists, the world at large says “They have TALENT.”

That word is very misleading, because instead of a single TALENT, there are a group of TALENTS.

No one has a TALENT for basketball. What good basketball players have is a collection of TALENTS that allow them to play the game well: tall, strong, fast, coordinated, good special reasoning, good memory for and recall of specific plays, understanding of their teammate’s skills, ability and willingness to work hard in practice— a myriad TALENTS that combine to make a great player.

200 years ago there were people who were tall, strong, fast, coordinated, had good special reasoning, etc.

200 years ago the game of basketball did not even exist.

It would be silly to say that they had a TALENT for basketball. They had skills that could be beneficial for the game of basketball that could also be beneficial for other activities, but in that specific combination would allow them to play basketball well.

They had TALENTS, not TALENT.

Look at football players (American football or ‘futball’ –I love ‘em both).

At the professional level, EVERYONE HAS “TALENT.” You don’t get to that level without natural ability, athleticism, etc.

Success in Singing and in Life

What makes some players rise to elite status above others?

It might be that they have a few special skills the others don’t, but more often than not it is their competitive fire, their compulsion to improve, their relentless work ethic, their intellect, or sometimes just their willingness to start a little earlier and stay a little longer than other players that eventually pushes them to the top.

Apply this to singing: if you have aspirations to ‘make it big,’ realize that everyone you are competing with has just as much if not more “TALENT” than you.

In the modern world everyone has access to virtually the same resources as everyone else. Your chance to succeed will come as you take advantage of those resources and decide to spend the time needed to develop all your TALENTS to make your dreams come true.

When you are complimented as having TALENT, keep in mind the multitude of TALENTS that are being identified: stage presence, vocal control, a sultry low range or a clear high range, emotional presentation… all of these are different facets of what is identified as a single TALENT.

Add to my list of Talents

My Reactions To This Week’s Peer Review Vid

Sarah Dooley – Katy Perry Cover

I’m so lucky to have so many great young singers sending in their videos this past few weeks! I recommend you read my comments to the other young singers and think about how it applies to you. Specific recommendations for you, Sarah: film yourself singing this song at a live performance, when you are away from the safe studio and headphones. Does your performance come across as warm and dynamic to match your vocals? Can you maintain your level of vocal presence through a whole set, or are you straining or working your voice too hard? In a live performance you may have to pace yourself and learn to sound good while not singing at 100% for the whole performance.

-Mister Tim

Mister Tim is a modern voice artist who respects the history of the vocal arts while not being afraid to push into new, uncharted territory. He artistic directs an eclectic array of vocal ensembles that range from traditional choral to cutting-edge, technology-based, ultra-modern vocal rock bands. A published composer, award-winning recording artist, and in-demand performer and teacher, Mister Tim is also a viral video star, sponsored kazoo player, and dedicated husband and father. He created and sings with 2010 Harmony Sweepstakes champions Plumbers of Rome, internet sensations moosebutter, beatbox online teachers and performers Mouth Beats, and all-original vocal band THROAT. He also tours with his solo vocal live-looping/beatbox shows. and

  • Thirschler

    I get what you’re trying to say but the whole “talent” illustration doesn’t fly. Since when are “tall, strong, fast, coordinated, had good special reasoning” talents? To me, the owner of those things had nothing to do with their existence. They are gifts, plain and simple. Even a character trait such as tenacity might be considered a gift. Your encouragement to pursue excellence by developing and capitalizing on these gifts (my words) does make sense.

  • MisterTim

    Curious, Thirschler: how do you define “talent”?  What is the difference between a gift and a talent?

  • Thirschler

    Generally I would say that talents are developed through training, education, and practice, and gifts are inborn, innate, and unique to the individual. Of course, if something is a gift, there has to be a giver. I believe there is one God, creator of all, who gives gifts to men. Without God, I can see how talents and gifts could easily be confused (i.e., used interchangeably). MisterTim: I’m not making a direct statement here about your religious views, just a general statement for clarification.

  • MisterTim

    Dictionaries I think disagree with you:
    “Innate ability, aptitude, or faculty”.  I always saw gifts and talents as being very similar in definition. I think the important things to remember are 1) you don’t get to brag about your talent (or gift) because it was given freely (from god, circumstance, and/or genetics) and 2) everyone else has talents/gifts, and in the field you are competing in everyone has virtually the same talents/gifts, so you can’t expect to succeed just because of some innate ability.  Success comes from the development, application, and combination of your gifts to make good stuff happen.