The Talent Paradox

Currently reading Music, Talent, and Performance – Henry Kingsbury.

It is an anthropologists report about life within a conservatory culture. Some integrating and thought provoking ideas of perceptions of talent within and outside of the conservatory culture are presented. One of these is the talent paradox. Talent is frequently used as a way of explaining something that can not be explained otherwise, such as through training.

The talent paradox: Musical talent is thought to be something which is not learned. However, musical talent, within the classical idiom is generally acquired through rigorous training over many years, in order to reach the level to which society deems muscially talented. It is also a paradox of formal verbal instruction in a nonverbal idiom.

Talent is also considered a hierarchy of social skills. It has social ranking. Inspite of all men are created equal concept, talent in present-day western society has a positive value attached to it.

If everyone can be taught to do something, then how do we differentiate between talented individuals. What is the unknown quantifier ascribed to a talented music student if all other variables of training are equal?

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