Talents and the Ring
A post wherein I geek out about singing because I do that sometimes.
Written as part of MamaKat’s Writer’s Workshop. Write a blog post inspired by the word: bell.
I remember the first time my voice teacher told me that my voice rang like a bell. As a soprano, that’s a good thing. It took a long time to get to that point, because in the beginning, my voice needed a lot of work. In fact, my first private teacher in college told me she would have me on pitch in a year.
A year! Well, she made good on her promise and I was.
Lately, I’ve had several conversations with different people about the fact that I wasn’t gifted with a naturally beautiful singing voice. There are people in this world that open their mouths and rainbows and butterflies fly out. Their voices are almost effortlessly divine.
I’m not one of those people.
Enter the Evidence
The other day, I showed my daughter a home video of the one solo I had in high school because she didn’t believe me when I told her that I didn’t always have a strong voice. Watching her face was classic. At first, her expression was blank. But as my solo went on and headed into a higher range, her eyes widened, she audibly gasped, and covered her mouth. Then, she started laughing. Yeah, she laughed and couldn’t even speak.
I gave her permission to acknowledge that I was pretty bad in the beginning, and laughed with her because it’s true. I’m the first to admit it. I wasn’t terrible and I have some natural musical abilities but I wasn’t a soloist. (Remember how I couldn’t sing on pitch?)
It took years of practice to develop that characteristic soprano ring. Making it an everyday occurrence took even longer. There are still days when it takes a while for my voice to properly warm up and actually ring. For those who don’t know, singing correctly is difficult.
It takes work and practice followed by more practice and a heavy dose of practice. Then, you go to lessons where you learn technique and correct breathing. Finally, you go home and practice some more.
I think it’s easy to assume when you see someone that is good at something, that they were born with that talent. I don’t think that is the case most of the time. We may see one brief moment when that person’s strengths are on display but we don’t see the work it’s taken for them to get to that point.
Most talented people have a natural inclination in some area, such as athletics, art, writing, or playing an instrument. Their love of that activity has driven them to put in the time necessary to develop that talent. To become truly proficient at something requires time and sacrifice.
There was a time that I admit to feeling a little jealous when I saw someone playing the piano beautifully or with some other talent that I admired. I would mutter the ever effective, “I wish I could do that,” or “Why can’t I do that?” But time and experience have all but struck those words from my vocabulary because I’ve learned better.
If I really want to be able to do what someone else can do, then I had better be willing to do what they’ve done. Do I really want to play like a concert pianist? No, because I’m not willing to put in the hours of practice and lessons it would take. Truth be told, I’m not sure I have the ability or the love of the piano to accomplish that. Do I really want to be proficient on the violin? Yes, but apparently not enough to pull it out even once in the last seven years.
So, I’m not going to lament that I can’t play the violin.
Different Kinds of Talents
I think we often forget the talents and abilities that aren’t…for lack of a better word, “stagey”. The kinds that are hard to see in ourselves but easier to recognize in others. My husband is a champ at being able to see what kind of service people need. I, on the other hand, am oblivious. It’s not that I don’t want to be helpful but I have a hard time figuring out what to do. Luckily, I follow his lead and I usually do okay.
Being friendly, a good listener, and non-judgmental are all talents that some people naturally have. The good thing is, we can develop those talents too, but it’s just like with those ‘stagey’ talents, you have to put in the time and effort.
I have to consciously be friendly otherwise my introverted self will sit in the corner and never talk to anyone. Talking to a stranger makes my palms sweat, even the cashier at the grocery store. It’s silly but true. I fight it though because that’s not the kind of person I want to be. I am more or less successful depending on the day, but I keep trying.
Starting Where You Are
There are some things that only a select number of people will be able to do in this life – like being an Olympic sprinter, for example. They not only have the natural ability, they also have the resources, motivation, and willingness to sacrifice that allows them to achieve that goal.
However, the rest of us aren’t going to be Olympic sprinters. No matter how hard we try, we aren’t going to march as an athlete into an Olympic stadium. But, if I want, I can become better than I am today. I can become a better runner, better cook, better wife, and better mother. The choice is mine, and yours, to make.
Occasionally, I find myself frustrated because I haven’t accomplished a goal that I’ve set for myself. How many of us do that? Whether its health, professional, or spiritual, it can be frustrating to feel like you aren’t making progress.
I’ve found the source is usually one of two things. Either A) I’m not making the sacrifices I need to make to achieve my goal or B) I’m not self-evaluating properly and have failed to see my progress. Yes, sometimes we have made progress and we don’t realize it.
I smiled and asked how the cashier she was doing at the grocery store the other day. Woop! That’s progress, people. Take a close look at yourself and I think you’ll see, as I have, that you are making more progress than you think.
Are you the same as you were two, three, or four years ago? I would venture to say, no. We all grow and change. If you’ve been wanting to make a change whether it’s developing a talent or working on an attribute that you would like to develop, start where you are.
Take the small steps that lead to progress. Over time, as with my voice, you’ll start to ring like a bell. The more you practice the more you’ll ring, until you ring without even thinking about it.