What if you made not quitting your talent?

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When people say you have a talent for something, what they really should say is: “I can see you’re not a quitter.”

It isn’t just talent that makes great artists, bankers, musicians, craftsmen, politicians… It’s hard work, persistence, endurance, determination, and good old-fashioned getting on with the job. A fairy isn’t going to come along and magically grant you the power to be talented. No one is going to fulfill your dreams, achieve your goals, finish your studies, or create wealth for you, other than the person staring into your mirror in the morning—YOU.

Saying you don’t have what you want because you aren’t talented is a cop out. Everyone has things they do better than others, but believing that you have no talent or natural skills is just not the case. People who are doing what they enjoy in life are doing it because they had a dream and refused to quit trying. Talent is a byproduct of not quitting.

Recently I met the most talented young woman. When you meet Lizzy Weiland you immediately understand that she is where she is at this very moment because she simply did not quit. The music she creates is phenomenal and saying she’s just naturally talented would be an insult.

My name is Elizabeth Weiland. Everyone in my family has always supported me a lot. I remember I performed an outdoor show last year and although it was freezing outside, both sets of my grandparents came to watch me. I’ll never forget looking out into the crowd and seeing them covered in blankets! My cousin Tommy plays guitar as well, so he has always invited me to concerts and shares the same love for music. Most of all though, my mom has been my biggest supporter through everything. She has gone out of her way plenty of times to take me to shows, band practices, guitar lessons, and anywhere in between. Not to mention, she tolerates a loud house even when a quiet evening probably sounds more appealing. She rocks!

573: Tell us about your music

I am very opened-minded when it comes to music genres. I enjoy anything from metal to folk, indie, pop, jazz, etc. I’m kind of all over the place! I definitely do not like to put any boundaries on what I listen to or what I’m willing to play. I have a band, but I also have solo songs which are mostly instrumental. I recently purchased a keyboard/synth so I have been able to uncover a lot of new possibilities during the writing process. When I perform by myself, I use a device called a loop pedal. It allows me to do a lot of cool things as a solo artist, but most importantly, I can put backing tracks I’ve recorded onto it and then play my guitar part with it. It creates a fuller sound and an all-around better experience. I like to be able to layer piano, drums, bells, and anything else I need to complement my guitar.

573: How did you first get into music

Unlike most of my peers, I never had a huge interest in sports or dance. I was more fascinated with art and music. I started taking guitar lessons when I was seven, and aspired to learn the songs of my favorite bands during that time. I had some great teachers over the years and as they helped me learn new techniques and songs, I began to write my own songs. Eventually, I put together a set list and began to perform for my family and friends. When I was 15, I had my first show on an actual stage opening for a band!

My first “official” show was at The Vault in Farmington. I opened up for a band called Violet and the Undercurrents, and after the show, their drummer invited me to a music camp she was putting together in Columbia. Of course, I said “yes” and soon I found myself walking into Compass Music Camp. To be honest, it was probably one of the best weeks of my life. Farmington is a great place to raise your kids, go to school, and play sports, but it can be rather lonely for a musician. At camp, I was surrounded by musicians that were my age, musicians that were twice my age, and people who were generally just supportive of the arts. Monday-Friday was spent taking classes, including music history, music theory, singing, instrument lessons, and band practice. On the following Saturday, we had a concert which showcased the songs we wrote over the week. It was my first time ever playing in a band. Let me repeat that, the first time! I will be forever grateful to everyone who worked to get that camp up and running. It was a huge positive experience and I made a lot of friends that will last a lifetime.

573: Tell us about your band

I have recently joined a band, based in St. Louis, called Fresh Rain. I saw their ad online for a guitarist and after a few emails, I got an audition! I am extremely lucky to have the chance to play with some very talented musicians and we are already scheduling a lot of gigs. We play a variety of music, including Top 40 songs and original work!

573: Any advice for upcoming musicians

My advice for upcoming musicians would be to stay open-minded, dedicated, and brave. You have to be open to new styles of music, new techniques, and new ideas. I’ve had guitar teachers suggest something I never thought I would want to learn, but in the end I really dig it and use it every day. Dedication is important because you have to have enough self-discipline to sit down and learn something new. Even if it may be hard at first, it only gets easier. Most importantly, you have to learn to be brave. It can be tough to get on a stage and perform or even just let people listen to a recording of your work. Anytime you let a piece of art leave your hands there is always a fear that someone won’t like it or someone will say it is not good enough. That makes it easy to keep a piece to yourself, but it requires bravery to put yourself out there and take the risk. Music has always been directly connected to emotion for me, so it can be slightly uncomfortable sharing sometimes. But if you do share, the risk is worth the reward.

573: What about your future plans

No matter where I end up or what my day job is, I always plan to keep music a part of my life. I’ve been in accelerated classes and the gifted program in school and currently I’m working on graduating with my Associate of Arts degree. I’ve always had an interest in human disease and all types of sciences, so I will most likely major in neurobiology, chemistry, or molecular biology. I think that pathology is a really fascinating field of work and so I plan to go to medical school and eventually complete a residency to become a pathologist. Autopsies during the weekdays and concerts on the weekend—sounds like a plan to me!

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