Bad Words Week: Talented

Note: This week I’ve selected words I think we should consider removing from usage for various reasons.

When we talk about good singing, let’s stop using the word talented.

As a choral educator, I am in the business of taking enthusiastic, musical students and helping them develop the skills they need to perform music at a high level.

And it never fails that a student will sing a solo in a concert and be complimented afterwards for being “talented.”

Talent certainly exists, but it is almost always a small part of the success your student achieve. They are not born with a keen ear for adjusting intonation, vowel modification, or phrasing. They are not born knowing the words, melody, or harmony for the song they just sang.

The pleasing results we praise are the result of hours of hard work on behalf of the individual. Let’s praise that!

Additionally, Carol Dweck’s research into growth mindset clearly shows that praising talent results in antipathy towards growth; praising effort results in future persistence and growth.


Word: Talented
Reason to Eliminate: Misattribution of skill.
Suggested substitute(s): Skillful; polished, accomplished.