I recently had the pleasure of speaking with an experienced vocal coach (not for myself mind you – my voice is strictly reserved for my non-judgmental, appreciative children). The vocal coach said something that struck me then and has continued to haunt me since. So, as a writer, I found myself wanting to express my thoughts via the written word. I think a lot of people will be able to relate.
The coach told me that she had personally conducted research through the years of those she has worked with. There are those people, she explained to me, who say they “can’t sing”. They state the opinion with complete conviction – as if it was a fact handed to them at birth.
Doctor: Baby ‘A’, I need to let you know that you cannot sing.
Baby ‘A’: Good to know, thanks.
Doctor: No problem. Whatever the circumstances, just remember that very important fact – You can’t sing.
Baby ‘A’: Got it.
The coach found, however, when she asked that person the question, “Who told you that you couldn’t sing?” the response was always similar. “A teacher.” “My mom.” “My dad.” There was always someone who had left the impression on the person’s mind that they could not, should not sing.
Wow. What if someone had told Maria Carey, B.B. King, George Jones, or Bob Dylan they couldn’t sing!?!
Young minds are impressionable. Words can really scar.
What were you told you couldn’t do? Did you throw the words back in their face and do it anyway? Or, like many hopefuls, did you give up X, Y, or Z talent because, well, you “couldn’t do it”?
Some might say, “If you’re meant to do something, you’ll do it despite what people say. Toughen up.”
And maybe Carey or King or Dylan were told, at some point, that they couldn’t sing and they let the words fall at their feet. But, the vast majority of people will remember the words and those words will eat away at their confidence. When I was a classroom teacher, I remembered my past teachers who built me up and those that tore me down. I vowed to never be the kind of teacher that convinced a child that they could not do whatever they put their mind to.
“Put your mind to it.” – That’s a funny expression. When you put your mind to something, that doesn’t mean you sit on your duff and think you are a great writer, singer, mathematician. It means you get your hands dirty – You make, mold, practice, struggle into a great talent.
May I never crush a budding talent. May we all build fellow hopefuls up and never let someone tear us down.