It’s often seems to me like there are three kinds of singers. The first is what the Germans call a “Naturtalent”, a natural talent. We’ve all heard the stories; Caruso sang Rodolfo when he was 19, Angelina Patti made her Met debut with Lucia at 17, Judy Garland also at 17 (who had already made many films) sang that unbelievably mature “Somewhere over the rainbow”, not to mention Michael Jackson and so many more. It’s like they hit the road running, like they were born to sing. It’s all just there. TALENT.
The second has great potential but needs either maturity or there are some limiting physical or mental habits in the way, or both. POTENTIAL.
The third is the student who perceives him/herself as having minimal talent, which is verified by teachers, judges and mentors. Yet this student loves the art so much, that she is willing to work her butt off and to do what it takes to make a career. TRAINABILITY.
I know when I went to school; there were definitely the school ‘stars’ right in the first year. Then there were those who became ‘stars’ in their later semesters, when they were a bit more mature. Then there were those who, it was pretty much acknowledged, were sort of on the back burner; ‘they’d probably go into music education, or arts management’, it was slightly derogatorily said. The irony is; in many cases 10 years later it looked WAY different. The early or late semester ‘stars’ had pretty much treaded water and the back-burner students were having careers in major houses, with agents, great roles and high salaries.
How could this be?
There are many factors involved, as always, but a major one is, of course, a certain attitude towards the work involved.
Einstein, on a broader scale, is a good example. It’s said he didn’t speak until his fourth year, was ‘left back’ in school when he was 14 and his teachers were sure he just wasn’t very smart.
It might have even been true, except for the fact that, to paraphrase what he himself said;
“I may not be the smartest or most talented person in the room; I JUST STICK WITH THE PROBLEM LONGER!!!”
And there we have it; talent and potential are subjective and non-measurable. Work ethic, Einsteinian Stick-to-it-iveness, perseverance and “Trainability” are really what make all the difference!
Evan Bortnick http://www.musa-vocalis.de