Nurturing talent

Amal Chatterjee
8 min readFeb 12, 2018

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : Nurturing talent of a child by the parents is very important that helps the child reach his full potential even under adversity. This blog treats this subject with ways to provide the right environment for the child to grow and reach his potential.

A nine year old very beautiful girl from Holland called Amira Willighagen made such a powerful impression on me yesterday that I can’t get over it and keep asking the question to myself how is it possible for a child to have such mastery over her voice, such control and such wide range of notes that has captured the heart of millions all over the world.

It is all the more impressive since she had no formal voice training under any famous singer and learned to sing only by watching U tube but she has very nurturing parents and siblings who all are musicians in their own right and give her tremendous support and the environment where she is becoming a star and a sensational star at that.

Can you imagine what she will be like when she is older? She has attained at the age nine what took Maria Callas a lifelong of practice and singing. All the famous singers like Pavarotti and others are falling in line to sing with her on the world stage because now she is a shining star.

This brings up the question that has prompted me to write today this blog called nurturing talent and discuss how the parents can create the nurturing environment for such a gifted child as Amira. I think some children are born with the gift of voice or the ability to learn a difficult instrument like piano or violin quickly that a less gifted child takes many years and still comes up short. In my last blog called the Two extraordinary child prodigies I wrote about Amira and a three year old child who plays Beethoven flawlessly and can read notes when an adult with many years of practice has a hard time doing so.

Some say that it is in the genes. A child can inherit the inborn talents of her parents and only needs the support she needs to develop it further. Not many parents can afford to provide a grand piano to their child or pay for piano lessons or voice lessons in a reputed music school where the admission is difficult and the cost astronomical. A three year old or even a nine year old does not have a chance to get through their doors easily.

So a nurturing environment at home from loving parents who give support and encouragement to make a star out of a child like Amira is necessary.

Now we see the TV programs like The Philippines got talent or America got talent type of shows where a new comer is given a chance to sing or play an instrument, compete and shine. That is how Amira got her break when she won the national contest in Holland got talent show when people heard her voice for the first time and could not believe that she was only nine years old and self-taught.

There was a self-taught girl from the Philippines called Charisse who so impressed Oprah that she asked David Foster to listen to her and become a mentor. She went on to become a star.

Some children may have talent like Amira but never get the chance to develop it further because they come from very poor families where music may not be their priority. Now some kids may record a song and upload it to the U tube to get to be known but self-taught children need more than a U tube upload. They need a home environment where the parents take it seriously and provide the training etc. needed to develop the talent in a child.

Even a talented person often does not get the break he needs to succeed in life. I know a case in my home town where a very talented violinist lived and practiced on his violin all the time but seldom got a chance to show the world his talent. He was asked by the local radio station to play and earned a small fee each time but it dwindled and he took to drinking. I do not know what really happened to him but it was so sad. While going to my school, I passed by his house and listen to the sound of violin coming through the windows but didn’t know who he was.

In Asia very few people grow up learning to appreciate western music be it classical or contemporary because such music are not played in the radio and are not usually available in stores. The musical instruments like piano, organ or violin are very expensive and are imported so the ordinary people cannot afford them. There are no music schools in small towns where a person can get lessons in the western classical music.

This is not so in Europe. There are numerous music schools where children are taught the classical music, get singing lessons or learn how to play musical instruments. Many schools offer lessons as well and can train an aspiring child and later recommend admission to a reputed musical school somewhere with scholarship.

There are ornate and majestic opera houses where very talented musicians, singers and pianists play and are acclaimed. Who has not heard of La Scala or the Paris Opera or the Albert Hall in London?

But in Asia and Africa such is not the case because people there prefer their own music or performing arts like dances so the western music is not common. Music is purely an acquired taste from the childhood that very few are really interested in unless it is in their own language. To be a sitar or sarod player one has to train for at least 20 years under the maestro often practicing many hours every day.

Very few people have such tenacity or dedication to become a Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan. They had to learn it the hard way. There are no Maria Callas and Amira in India although there are singers with good voice who sing for the movie industry but their numbers are few. It is not easy to make a living singing or dancing or playing sitar or sarod so many talents are wasted like that fellow in my hometown who played violin well but had no audience.

I would like to return to the topic of western music and how young talents like Amira are being nurtured in a loving musical environment in Europe and elsewhere. They organize the Euro music festival every year where the new talents are given a chance to compete and win fabulous prizes and recording contracts. Talented boys and girls from every country in Europe and Russia get a chance to participate and some like Amira shine. Now with the TV broadcasts and satellite reception, the audience is literally worldwide.

In South Africa they hold musical events like in Europe where they invited Amira to sing. It is also where the local talents get a chance to perform and many win great accolades.

Once we were in Mexico City where we saw a dazzling performance at the Palacio de bellas arte of Aztec dances and songs but they also perform western musical concerts there because many Mexicans have European heritage and greatly appreciate the classical western music. All over Latin America you will find great opera houses and centers for performing arts. Similarly classical music is taken seriously in north America where there are many reputed music schools and centers for performing arts like in Washington, D.C. and New York.

I admit I am an anomaly in my own family and love classical western music. India is the wrong country for such taste. But over the years I have collected CDs of classical music and enjoy listening to them but it is as I said before an acquired taste. People who do not travel outside their own country stick to their own music and even those who travel do not get to appreciate something foreign.

Learning to sing in your own language or a language you are fluent in is the priority anywhere so it is quite natural for people to learn it in their own language first. In India very few appreciate English music so it is not played in radio or other media like TV because India is not an English speaking country.

This is true for most of Asia, from Turkey to China where a tremendous diversity exists in the musical taste of people. The English movies are dubbed in the local language so that people can understand. The musical talent shows organized in each country prefer the singers in the local language because that is what people are used to.

The diaspora living abroad always prefers music and musicians from the parent country so you will see the Filipinos in the USA invite their Filipino musicians to perform for them and the Japanese or the Indians do the same. There is also this tendency to stick to their language and culture no matter how long they live in other countries and encourage their children to do the same.

So the children who aspire to be musicians and have some talent for it need the support of the parents first and the community as well that prefers its own language and musical instruments. People tend to carry their language, music and the food with them no matter where they settle in the world because it is a part of who they are as people.

My point is that talents like Amira can be found in many countris where they can succeed if given the opportunity, support and active encouragement. This is the role of nurturing parents.

Very few parents in Asia or Africa encourage their children to become musicians and earn a living because it is hard. They prefer their kids to go to college to get the kind of education that makes them employable later. Music is not their priority.

This is practically the story all over the world but if you are very good at what you do be it with a musical career or in athletics, you can succeed in life. Some have become millionaires just singing. But the Shakiras or the Madonnas are exceptional singers who have made a niche for themselves using their talent. Not every singer is like Amira Willighagen so she is a very special child who has a great future.

Whatever the talent your child has can be developed with the help of the parents, the teachers and the friends who believe in the child and his potential. That is the key.