Monday, August 5, 2013

There's an artist in everyone...

I'm a terrible musician. I can't carry a tune to save my life. I'm totally tone deaf and as a result I'm the one person at Karaoke guaranteed to make everyone feel better about their own singing.

This wasn't always the case. As a kid I was part of the school choir and I had private singing lessons that helped me improve. I took band as an option for one year in Junior High, learning the basics of playing a clarinet. And if you give me a guitar and about 20 minutes I'll remember how to play 'House of the Rising Sun'.

It's not that music completely eludes me. I know, if I was passionate enough about it, I could probably be a really talented musician. But I'm not passionate about it and a lack of 'natural' musical talent doesn't bother me.

A self portrait
I didn't wear my glasses so I had to practice
going by shape alone
Now, I have met a few people who are naturally very talented at playing instruments or writing lyrics, but most of the musicians I know have had to work really hard at it. Music is hard work! All creative pursuits are.

Yet there's this strange belief that I encounter again and again that, despite having any proof to back it up, persists in the minds of those who hold it. It's this belief that people are born artists. That an artistic person has some inherent ability to draw or sculpt or paint or sing or write lyrics etc. That creative talent is something you're born with and if you weren't well, sucks to be you, there's simply no hope.

This sort of belief baffles me because saying, "I can't draw so I'll never learn" is like saying, "I can't speak second language so I shouldn't bother learning one." 

Artistic talent is not a personality trait.

It's a skill.

No one is a born architect or surgeon just as no one is a born dancer or portrait painter. There are exceptions - there always will be simply because there are so many people on the planet - but the nature of an exception is the rarity of it. Even those with a supposed 'natural' talent will struggle in some aspect. We all have room to learn. But it's less that we have room to learn and more that we have the capacity for it. Learning is a never ending process and something we all have a talent for if we put our mind to it.

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