Each unique voice
Learning is like seeing light fracture into a rainbow, and then that rainbow turned into kaleidoscope that can become a mosaic that we create.
It doesn’t have to be complicated. A kaleidoscope is such a simple contraption, with a few simple pieces. You could even make one with discarded items – an old loo roll, foil, and bits of coloured paper, glass, or plastic. When looked at in the light can be seen with a perspective that inspires a vision that is far beyond the original pieces. The magic of it is that the looker has to be willing to pick it up, point it to the light, and see.
What does this have to do with voices? Everything. Each of us has a voice, whether literally with the words and sounds that come out of our mouths, but also figuratively with the longer path of how we live, who we are, what we do.
I was driving in the car and pressed the button on the radio and heard some orchestral music. It was nothing in particular, but I noticed there was a solo clarinet with a big orchestral backing. I was suddenly aware of how different the clarinet is to the cello, my main instrument, and how all the instruments in the orchestra on the recording actually were quite unique. I listened as their voices merged and separated and some came to the forefront and each had a place, and when it was time for one to speak, the others seemed to listen. They were different. There was no sense that all should be clarinets – and suddenly I was aware of the individuality and of the value of all the instruments:
An oboe doesn’t want to be a cello. An oboe and a cello do different things and one doesn’t strive to be the other.
It is such a simple thought, yet so different to the way society trains us. Aren’t we supposed to be the best? Win. Be first. Commercilised, publicised, comoditised. NOW. Just do it.
In schools students have great pressure to test well, from primary school through to university entry. Schools coach, refine, and skill our young people, and these things are needed, but what else? I had a student recently point out to me that as children move through school they are syphoned into specialisms, honed to be a scientist or a linguist or … Certainly in the UK system, by the time you are 16 you have chosen your three or four related subjects that will set you up for the single subject that you study at university level.
How does that marry to the reality that many people will have multiple careers during their working life?
(I am going to leave that question hanging.) It is a context for the idea of striving, and what society paints as expectations for us. I remember my teacher saying to me, ‘There will always be someone better than you. So what are you going to offer that makes you special?’ I was simultaneously left feeling crushed and stranded. What was I going to offer? I didn’t know, but I was being asked to think for myself.
- not to complete a test.
- not to benchmark myself against someone else.
- not to beat the metaphorical ‘them’
to be me.
That’s the difference. All the striving and syphoning can be ok, (well, can certainly be coped with) if people know they are valued, but there is another way: To value of yourself for yourself and the contribution you can make.
Your voice is important.
Striving not against others, but with others for yourself can still stretch you as much as societal competition, but this competition is set and determined by you and not by something externally stipulated or enforced.
Having begun to think, we can then consider how to build and shape things.
Perhaps we can even fly.Image CC-BY-SA-NC by Ana C.
You are valid, important, and the orchestra of life wouldn’t function quite right without you.
Featured image CC By-NC by Leia Barker