Sunday, March 23, 2014

"I Should Have Been Made of Chrome"

There are constantly new child opera singers and blues singers showing up to audition for various “Something something’s got Talent”. Like this one.

First of all I have to say I think it’s wonderful that children have an interest in  music. Opera and Jazz are wonderful genres that I, too, worship and that move me every time I listen to them.
What worries me is how these young children's parents encourage their young onto a stage. If you know your child is impressive, or what I’m getting  at, does a great imitation of opera or jazz then take into consideration what you are  subjecting your child to.  It is not just public reaction and the judges warm praise, but more importantly the damage this can inflict on a young persons vocal chords as they are continuely  encouraged to sing this way. They are pushing their vocal chords to sound like someone else and this is something that can seriously damage the voice and the child's future as singer.

I admit that 4 years ago I arrived in Stockholm with my own version of "imitation damage". My voice was messed up, for a lack of better words, from many years of being allowed to imitate opera. I had no guidance into finding my own voice, I was  led to sing in head voice any way it was possible. I started out innocently enough at thirteen with a good young head voice, but later when I became a fan of opera I started to push my voice to sound like everyone else. Thankfully I have strong vocal chords. Prior to opera singing I belted out Christina Aguilera ballads on a regular basis. I remember how hoarse I’d be after singing for an hour. But to me I figured that was normal and didn’t question it.Thankfully I’ve never had any permanent damage  to my vocal chords and hopefully never will.  I have become extremely aware of my vocal chords and there fragility and I notice a slight strain on them when I use them incorrectly. If I sing right I don’t feel a thing other than the sound I produce and the sensation of it flowing out of my mouth.

In addition to voice damage many argue that a child lacks understanding of the music and is not able to convey the emotions of the song. A child does not know about heartbreak, betrayal, love and so on in the way an adult may have experienced. Their lack of life experience makes it challenging to feel any raw emotion in their singing. But it is obvious that some people are just impressed by someone that can sing on key and somewhat nicely. Even my father comments after a concert “Wow, you weren’t off-key at anytime!” That is all he hears or perhaps listens for – not the emotions of the song. This is the same man that can tell what’s wrong with a car or motorcycle just by listening to its motor...I should have been made of chrome.

I suppose there are things to be said about being able to imitate and impress. It means the children must have listened attentively in order to produce sounds like that. But, my final thought is that it is important that these children are left to grow and mature and to find their own unique voices.

xxErika Grace

Photo: Åke Cappelin - Check him out here.

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