Ellen M. Lerner
5 min readFeb 18, 2024


Can Talent Shows Effectively discover Talented Individuals?

Photo by Unsplash

When you say ‘talent shows’ I'm not sure if you are referring to the type of talent show that comes to mind, like the kind I grew up with, in school with kids doing some pretty fun and interesting things, or are you speaking on a larger scale and talking about things such as American Idol, etc? If it's the latter, I was never a fan, but if it is what I consider to be a ‘talent show,’ I'd love to expand upon that…

I was always extremely extroverted, even as a young child, but some of the kids I grew up with (starting in kindergarten all the way up to senior year in high school) were not. Some were painfully shy. Many were very intelligent and some were extremely creative.

In elementary school, we had a talent show every year. It was sort of expected that I’d be a part of it, but I always loved watching other children who could be shy, different…sort of walked to the beat of their own drum (so to speak) the misfits, the bad kids, or the opposite…the quiet kid who always had their nose in a book who got straight As. Some didn’t have a whole lot of friends, and some, who you wouldn’t necessarily expect to put their name on the list because they wanted to share their own special talent with the rest of the school…those were my favorite moments of the whole thing. I loved watching these shy, introverted children do something brave and bold. It was extremely inspiring…

Because I grew up with so many special teachers, (especially in elementary school) they were always kind, encouraging, always rooting for the underdog, and they were thrilled to see some of the children be bold and do something a bit outside their comfort zone. It was very natural for me, but thinking back now…that could not have been easy at all for many of these special kids. I think they were very brave.

One of my friends named Kim wanted to be a part of it one year and I remember talking with her about it on the playground. She wasn’t so much scared as she was indecisive as to what her talent was and how to execute it. She thought (like many did) that it had to be musical, mostly playing an instrument, or singing, etc..but she didn’t do either, however, she excelled at dancing and gymnastics. So we started kind of making a plan. I always liked her very much and I knew that this was important to her. We picked a song and after school some days I watched her make up this cool routine and practice it.

She did an awesome job at our 3rd grade talent show and her parents as well as her older sister and younger brother were really proud of her.

Then, there was a little boy named Marcus. He was very shy. Extremely intelligent. I didn’t know him well, other than the fact we were both in the Challenge Program together. We had a school trip one day, and I always wanted my Mom to be a part of these trips and come as a chaperone. She always did.

I wanted her to sit with me and my friends on the bus. I totally remember this day. We were actually going to the Campbell’s Soup Factory in Camden New Jersey and as she was about to sit down with me and my friends, she noticed Marcus sitting all alone on the bus. Nobody wanted to sit next to him. She turned to me and asked me ‘if it would be okay if instead of sitting with me and my friends, she would ask Marcus if he wouldn’t mind if she sat next to him.’ I said ‘of course Mom…that’s fine!’ So that’s what she did.

She told me later on that night when we got home that she learned some cool stuff about Marcus. At first, he didn’t seem to want to talk much at all, but by the time we got to New Jersey, he was going on and on and sharing things with my Mom and he was smiling. I remember looking at her right before we all got ready to head off of the bus. She had her hand on his shoulder and was listening very closely to what he was saying…I don’t think I ever loved my Mother more than I did in that moment.

Marcus did the coolest science experiment in front of the whole school for our 4th grade talent show, something I never expected Marcus to do. Years later I happened to ask someone about him and they told me he received a scholarship to the Michigan Institute of Technology. I wasn’t very surprised at all. From what I heard, he was an extremely successful engineer, with a really nice wife and two beautiful children.

Photo from Unsplash

I shared all of that with you (and there were so many more examples) because I wanted to answer your question and say that though yes, of course talent shows can effectively discover talented individuals, I think they can do something far more important…

If everybody gets on board and supports one another, I think that can do wonders for a person. Especially in their youth. My Bubby (my Grandmom) once told me..’it only takes just one person to believe in you, and you in turn will believe in yourself.’ I think she was right.

I went to a very special school, especially my elementary school. And as I said above, I had some very special teachers. It’s because of people like that, that many children who may not have a whole lot of support at home (not necessarily abusive, or neglectful..some simply could have many siblings, or maybe their Mom is a single Mom (or Dad) and has to work a second job. But these teachers encouraged everyone. Not just singling out the most talented of the bunch…it was open for everyone. That’s how it should be. And though I know this question was about undiscovered talent, some talents could be hidden. Some may not realize just how talented they really are. Maybe no one ever told them. When you find people like this who encourage you to share your talents (whatever they may be) you open up the door to a world of possibilities. So much potential. Just a bit of encouragement and you really have no idea what you might come to find…

We must never allow anyone to squander something so valuable. We should always nurture our gifts and our talents…whatever they may be. And if my Grandmother was right (and I think that she was) if it only takes one person to believe in you, and you in turn will believe in yourself…BE that person. You never know what beautiful things could be discovered if you are paying close enough attention.



Ellen M. Lerner

My name is Ellen. I am a Composer. A Pianist and Vocalist. A Student. A Writer and most of all...I'm a Survivor.