My sister sent me the video of Susan Boyle that is going around the internet. Like many I was amazed at her voice, her courage and especially the response of the audience who seemed to dismiss her at the beginning. She has become a phenomenon overnight and I hope that she is able to use her abilities (and new fame) to find a niche, earn some money and live her dream.
Why are we so quick to judge?
As a society we tend to judge harshly on appearance, success, status and other factors. Her song brought for me memories of grade 6 where I was in the school choir, performed solos and duets and had one of the better (tenor) voices in the class. I was 11 years old, incredibly shy with no confidence and my grade 6 teacher asked me and another boy to go on stage in front of the class.
He asked us to both sing separately.
The other boy had a cracked voice and kind of an airy, forced tone that could hurt the ears. Mine was pretty smooth with a nice tenor sound. He said to the class, "Who do you think will have the better voice when he gets older?" Most of the class looked at me and then were amazed when he said the other boy would have the better voice because often a cracked voice changes and improves, whereas a tenors can lose their range.
Same Words - Different Outcomes
As an 11 year old boy those words from my teacher were devastating and I felt embarrassed standing on that stage that day. My confidence was shattered and eventually I stopped the choir and in grade 7 quit music altogether. It took almost 30 years before I eventually picked up the guitar, learned to play and brought music and singing back into my life.
Back in 1990 I was in a pub and recognized the name of the singer as that boy with the cracked voice. I'm sure the words from our grade 6 teacher gave him great confidence to continue singing and pursue his dream.
Those same words took away my confidence and set me on a completely different path.
Judging Less and Encouraging Everyone
As a society, as teachers and as people we should learn the power of our words and responses to people. We should learn to judge less, encourage and look for the positive in everyone. Our world would be a much richer place if we did.
Susan Boyle Interviews
Here are a couple of video interviews since YouTube doesn't seem to allow embedding for original performances. If you want to see her performance click here for the video.