This is a new addition to my blog. I'd like to be able to keep up with the activities of my students on my blog, so that it can be edited more quickly and efficiently than on my website. So . . . please let me know what you are up to and I promise it will get published here!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

"Talent is an Accident"

As all of my students know, I am an avid reader of magazines, books, blogs, postings, websites, etc. that have anything to do with singing. One of my favorite sources for "teaching tidbits" is OPERA NEWS, which just celebrated its 75th Anniversary. In an article called "Life Lessons" F. Paul Driscoll wrote about 12 things he'd learned about opera during his 42 years of fascination with the art form. One that stood out for me was the following . . . "Talent is an accident."

Oh boy, could I relate to that. On some level you are born with talent or you aren't. This is something that is very difficult for me to deal with as a teacher; especially with young people. I cannot tell whether a person has the talent to be a professional when she is in junior high or high school. I believe it is my job as a teacher to guide the student who wants to sing to become the best singer she is capable of being. Throughout the years I have been surprised, yes even shocked by the "talents" that have blossomed in people due to nurturing, maturity and proper training.

Driscoll spoke of opera's many talented failures. We all know of talented people in whatever aspect of the arts we may be involved in who have managed to burn themselves out and their talents with them or who just didn't have the "talent for talent." They didn't realize that even the talented would be asked to put in hours of work, be team players, and subsume their egos at times. Then there are those who, as Driscoll puts it had "great PR." I never knew this but there was a soprano named Marion Talley who made her Met debut at 19 to huge press attention and was finished at 30! Sound familiar?

So, I'm going to end this little rambling rant with a quote from Mr. Driscoll with which I heartily agree and hope some of you will react to my latest entry.
"Talent needs to be tempered and nurtured by hard work and discipline to stay the course."


Greta said...

Thanks for your posts Joan. I am more than a little concerned about how to deal with my 9 year old daughter and her training. I know that the potential is there. She has a real love of music and rhythm. It's getting to the point where I feel the need to give her the best I can ($$$), which means practice is a must, but I don't want her to end up hating practicing. Not sure what to do.


This is a response to Greta's comment from me, Joan.
Nine is a tough age, especially now that kids are maturing so much faster and singing all the time, sometimes the kinds of music that may not be right for their as yet immature voices (and I just mean that in an anatomical sense). One of the things I have discovered with my youngest kids (and my really young ones are almost all "pros") is that they will be singing all the time anyway, so I just equate what we are doing in the lesson with what they do in the car, with their friends, etc. Ten minutes a day of "correct" technique can work wonders. A "fun" technique for kids is really essential. Practicing should never be burdensome. Find a teacher who really knows how to deal with kids. I don't know where you are, but there are people who specialize in working with youngsters all over the country and you can find many of them through NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) or just an exhaustive google search. Good luck.