What Use Talent…?
Talent is a great gift. And it can be a great curse.
When I was a teenager, I had two musical pals. One played trumpet and the other a saxophone. The trumpeter was talented.
The sax player was awash with it. He was also a great showman, who, at seventeen, could bring a dancehall to a standstill with his driving, swinging solos and his spectacular style of playing. His talent bordered on genius; maybe he was a genius. He could sight-read from a music sheet, get the gist of a number in a minute, and then improvise around it for minutes on end.
And he played with great verve. He didn’t practice much, though. I guess he thought, like the rest of us at that age, that he didn’t need to. And that was a pity, because by the time he was twenty five, he was tired, burnt out, and bereft of ideas
The trumpeter was in the same band. He played well, practiced relentlessly, and could always provide a warm and lyrical accompaniment to a vocalist. He was a good leader too, a strong, positive influence.
By the time the trumpeter was twenty five, he’d moved to Manchester, opened his first music shop and was in demand to play with classical orchestras, Big Band Jazz outfits, small jazz groups, and recording sessions.
Both their careers continued, and culminated, in the direction they’d set by their twenty fifth year.
The difference in their respective careers is an old story, a bit like the hare and the tortoise.
Talent, like knowledge, or privilege, or opportunity, is as good as the use to which we put it, isn’t it?