Last night I was sucked into an episode of The Voice. Now, those of you who know me, know I’m a pretty good singer. Strictly at an amateur level. I can wake up a karaoke party, but I would *never* try out for a show like The Voice. Last night was a blind audition night.
The show highlighted a lot of singers. In case you don’t know the show’s gimmick, what happens is that the judges of the show face away from the stage, a hopeful singer belts it out, and if the judge wants to train that singer on their team, they press a button and turn around. Sometimes one judge turns around, so it’s easy. When more than one judge turns around, they barter with the contestant and they choose the judge they want to work with the most. Sometimes no judges turn around.
Last night one of the segments focused on one young woman for whom no judges turned around. Then the show did a montage of people who didn’t get on a team. The judges were supportive in the efforts of these contestants, but told those people they weren’t quite ready. Hey, everyone of those people could do more than wake up a karaoke party. These were *good* singers. They just weren’t quite at the level where the judges thought they could be pushed to their best. They were told to keep working. And honestly, as I watched the show, I could hear it. The slurring , the wrong notes, the lack of confidence that affected the performance. All of these were subtle, and most of the performance was good. But these contestants just weren’t quite there.
And that is the world of art, isn’t it? We work and we will get to a level of expertise through practice, practice, and more practice. One of the contestants came back last night after having been rejected last season, and she was welcomed onto a team. Improvement. We can’t move forward unless we figure out where we’re weak, and we practice to overcome.
No contestant sailed in on the basis of talent. Clearly, some singers had more than others, but the people who had shiny talent also had expertise and skill as its counterpart. These contestants were vied for the most. Like the man who performed on Beale Street 300 nights a year. Or the 17 year old girl, home schooling now, who worked constantly on her voice. Practice, practice, practice.
Thinking of becoming a better artist, it’s really a journey. A long, frustrating, rewarding journey. Jay Lake reminded us in his journal that it took him eleven years before his first story was sold. Practice, practice, practice. All things in their time.
And you might be the best you’ve been, but you might not be there yet. That’s okay. You know what you’ve got to do.
I’m going to go do that now.