……… A manager from another department at my place of work said he’d been told that he had a great voice that would lend itself to voice work, like commercials. This pleased the manager very much…..until he was told he should take some classes.

The manager was dismissive of this suggestion – if his voice was so good, why did he need to take classes?

Excellent question.

Given that my background is primarily theater (I hold a Bachelor’s degree in the subject), I attempted to explain to him that taking a class in voice work would actually benefit him, that it would give him tools in how to use his voice and diaphragm correctly. I added that actors, singers, writers, dancers, etc. take classes in order to keep their body (which is their instrument) in shape and capable of stretching beyond their comfort zone. This aids them in continuing to strive for their best work.

This notion was immediately dismissed by him and my co-worker. If you’re already good, then you don’t need to take classes, was their opinion. I was actually surprised by my co-worker’s attitude, since she does physical training to get into her target weight range. Does she think that once she gets to her target, she needs to stop training? Or that with one work out class, she knew all there was to know and should therefore quit? I didn’t think so at the time and I don’t think so now. Unfortunately, I was not able to draw a parallel to her workout regimen with that of an actor or dance or singer or musician.

The egos of my co-worker and the manager would not allow them to conceive of the idea that anyone with talent in the arts needed to have training.

Because that’s what those classes are – they are your workouts, your training sessions to exercise your muscles and learn new methods so that you can stretch and grow in ways you didn’t think possible. And when you’re not in your ‘workout’ class, you maintain what you’ve learned by practicing on your own.

The class, the workshop, the training you take in is only half of what you need to cultivate your creative talents. Practice is the other half to maintain it, improve it and grow it.

There’s an image of a ballerina’s feet that I’ve seen a number of times online. I like it because it’s a visual of how much hard work you have to put in to make your art look beautiful and effortless. One foot is encased in a pointe shoe, perfect and beautiful. The other foot is bare and shows the bruises and calluses and wear it has endured. What a ballet dancer does to make his or her movements graceful and effortless is reflected in that bare foot. It is hard, demanding work to be a ballerina. It is also symbolic of the hard work that goes on behind the scenes to create a novel, a film, a painting, a play, etc.

Going back to the manager and my co-worker – they don’t understand that creative work is actually work. That to get skilled in it requires not just talent, but determination, training and practice. They seem completely turned off by the idea that they would have to do any actual work to become even decent.

So, no, they won’t pursue it. That’s fine. They’re enamored of the end result, but they aren’t willing to put in the hours or the discipline it takes to get there.

If you wrote a 400 page novel, a romantic song ballad, a poem, or painted a portrait or landscape or completed anything artistic, give yourself a round of applause. You did that. You sweated and worked and made something tangible out of the intangible.

Ignore the doubters and nay-sayers – they don’t have what it takes to do what you did.

Now go do it again.

*****

Editor’s note – this blog post is also published concurrently on Citizens Journal Ventura County.

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