Parenting Skills for the Singer

Wait…this post is intended for every singer, not just those who have (or will have) children.  The relationship that each of us has with our singer-self (and with “the voice” itself) is a lot like that of a parent and child.  Just as the role of a parent changes according to the seasons of life, so change our responsibilities towards the creative self.  At various times, we must encourage, demand, challenge, affirm, and enable the singer-self to find its potential.  Yet, at all times, the care that we offer must be based on love and acceptance, even when it is “tough.”

One must take an honest view of the talents with which he/she is gifted.  When a singer receives the compliment, “You have a beautiful voice!” or other such accolades (music to our ears), the appropriate response is, “Thank you.”  That same expression of gratitude is more rightly addressed to the One who created our minds, bodies, souls and spirits in the first place.  Truly, the singer did absolutely nothing to acquire those talents.

To recognize, believe in, train and develop one’s gifts, though — here is where the opportunity for good parenting presents itself.  The mother or father who senses talent (potential excellence) in a child should make it possible for the child to explore the medium (sports, music, acting, visual art, writing, etc.).  Those parents make available performances, recordings, trips to museums, etc., for the gifted child, in order to spark his/her interest and stir the young imagination.

Those parents make it possible for the child to pursue training and development as he/she matures, often at great sacrifice.  (Lang Lang and his parents come to mind.)  Throughout the entire process of growth and exploration, a number of parental traits can be identified.  Though certain parents find certain attributes easy to display, necessary parenting skills often require deliberate strategizing and practice.  Among the characteristics of good parenting are love, patience, vision, calm, honesty, optimism, and encouragement in the face of fatigue and/or disappointment.  The parent helps the child to joy in discovery and growth, but never fosters complacency.

Do other traits of good parenting come to mind?  How faithfully do you — the creative artist — nourish your own gifted self, from the viewpoint of a wise and committed parent?  More to follow in future posts.

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5 thoughts on “Parenting Skills for the Singer

  1. I feel very privileged to have had you as a teacher and mentor. How interesting that I never remember us talking about any of these sorts of things, yet the ideas which you reinforce here are utterly interlaced throughout my singing, teaching, learning and life.

    I would add one thing. I believe it it my role as both parent and teacher to inspire confidence and action with talent not only to inspire development. Singers should sing and make a difference in their world around them. Singing for family, friends, church and community all come to mind. How often we wait and wait until it is “good enough” and I believe that can be a fatal flaw focusing our work on us rather than the art and its impact.

    So many singers spend so much time worrying about a note, a phrase,etc.. when they should be focused on creating a tapestry of sound which represents the intertwining of their own abilities and artistry with the intentions of the composer and even the poet. This intersection of artistic impact, authenticity in intention and excellence is what we as teacher/parents have to offer our students. That is of course assuming we can do it ourselves. 😉

    • Thanks, Jeff — you bring excellent thoughts to this table. Good inspiration for another post…

      It’s entirely too easy to think that while we are on a developmental path, we must wait until a project is “perfect” to share. I believe that the willingness (some would call it courage) to open up to others — even when everything is not yet ultimately mastered — is a particular gift. For one thing, it lets others know and witness that progress is possible, at any level. An analogy: fresh grape juice is delicious and nutritious, though some of us prefer grape juice well-aged.

      Congrats on the wonderful vision of Da Capo VA — love to you and the fam, EE

  2. Lots of encouragement here- these are concepts and ideas I find very helpful and useful. The singer as part of a team of artists, the singer as parent to their voice- fantastic.

    When we perform or record, when we share our gift, we absolutely must remember that we are giving that gift to whoever is listening. In the largest sense the Universe itself is listening. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it only has to be exactly what it is in that moment. Thanks Kavbar, Jeff, Elem.

  3. All very good points here!

    “One must take an honest view of the talents with which he/she is gifted. When a singer receives the compliment, “You have a beautiful voice!” or other such accolades (music to our ears), the appropriate response is, “Thank you.” That same expression of gratitude is more rightly addressed to the One who created our minds, bodies, souls and spirits in the first place. Truly, the singer did absolutely nothing to acquire those talents.”

    Absolutely!! I’ve been soloing in Christian Science churches for 20 years now and had a hard time knowing what to say to people that complimented me. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I finally realized it’s not me! God is expressing his message through my voice and presentation. Now when someone compliments me, I say “Thank You!, That solo was one of my favorites” or “I’m moved at how God expressed his loving message through that solo” or something to that effect. I’m humbled and grateful to God for giving me this gift and letting it touch the lives of others.

    “The mother or father who senses talent (potential excellence) in a child should make it possible for the child to explore the medium (sports, music, acting, visual art, writing, etc.). Those parents make available performances, recordings, trips to museums, etc., for the gifted child, in order to spark his/her interest and stir the young imagination.”

    Both my kids have acquired the gift of music. They both sing A LOT! And from as far back as I can remember they were right on pitch! With the help of my buddy Michael Williams from a conversation we had a couple years ago, I was able to help my 4 year old daughter (now 5), Annemarie, learn the spelling of her long name by putting it to music. She had a hard time remembering how to spell it. But the second time she heard the song, she had it down! She sings it to this day! Our last name is the same amount of letters as her first name, so she learned to spell that the same way.

    One of the greatest moments from my son was when he told me he wanted to be like me and sing for living. Naturally, I was very moved. He goes with me to church early every week and listens to me rehearse. In fact, one Sunday after church on the way home in the car, he was singing the solo I performed that morning! And he nearly had the entire thing down!

    I’ve been encouraging their talents ever since they were very young and doing it with love and patience.

    Thank you for your thoughts!

    • Dave — I am thrilled to know that you find application and value in these posts! I very much enjoyed reading about your children, their gifts and growing abilities. I am certain that you must be a wonderful father to them, and this is the greatest job/joy you will ever have…until you’re a grandfather, at least! Thanks for visiting the blog.

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