The sky was as blue and perfect as it could be, with the sun shining a radiance that could not help but make anyone smile, it was a magnificent Alaskan summer evening. As I stood on that stage in front of the Lieutenant Governor, the President and CEO of Special Olympics Alaska, and a host of dedicated athletes from across the state, I felt honored, privileged, and thankful. Not only was I there to sing the National Anthem and the "Alaska Flag Song" to open up the 2003 Special Olympics Alaska Summer Games, but I was there singing with my friend, Emily. Emily is a Special Olympics athlete, whom I have been coaching in voice for a year. This event was very dear to me because Emily and I had been working towards it for many months. Performing a talent is more than just getting up and singing, dancing, etc. it is expressing yourself, using the gift you were given.
You can find your talent and let it enrich your life! I want for everyone reading this column to find their talent and let it enrich their lives, and the lives of others. Thus, I have created Kristin's four "P's" for being successful at performing your talent.
Kristin's four "P's" of performing talent successfully are:
- Passing it on
Talent, as with life, is most successful if you have a purpose. When I started competing in pageants I found that while I was very accomplished in figure skating, dog shows, etc. that I did not have a talent that could be presented for pageants. I could not bring an ice rink to the pageant stage, nor could I take my dog up on stage. This problem resulted in me finding what I now enjoy the most.
Finding your truest talent (what makes you the happiest) is rather like life; it is a journey. I had always wanted to sing, but never pursued it. After I won the title of Miss Alaska Junior National Teen-Ager in 2001, I decided I would give vocal instruction a try. I was extremely motivated at this new pursuit, mainly because I wanted a really nice talent to perform at the pageant when I crowned my successor. While singing was my choice, talent is a very broad spectrum to choose from. The best way to find your talent is to see what areas you have the most interest in. Find a reason to try the talent. This reason could be to sing or play an instrument in church, to learn cultural dances, to teach others a particular talent, etc.
Once you have a purpose in mind, knowing what talent you wish to dedicate yourself to, the next step in your journey is practice. I find so many people dislike to practice, and sadly, this is where many of their journeys with talent end. This, however, does not have to be you. If you have chosen a talent that you really and truly can put all of your heart into, practice will be a joy, the highlight of your day! When you have set your mind to practice, and practice with a purpose, you will find yourself reaching heights you could never have imagined in all of your wildest dreams.
As an example: I absolutely adore singing, so I practiced, driven by that passion. I didn't know that I would later sing at amazing events all over the state (opening the 23rd Alaska State Legislature, etc.). This just goes to show that following your heart can lead you to great things.
To hone your talent potential I suggest finding a person you admire who is successful in that talent. This person will be able to offer you a phenomenal amount of knowledge, not to mention help in directing your talent to fit your strengths. I was extremely honored to work with Dr. Marlene Bateman, who really inspired me to stick with voice. With instruction and practice, you will be more than ready for the next step in your journey.
Performing is a gift to yourself and others. By performing your talent you will, yourself be enriched, thus giving others a valuable gift. Whether that gift is sharing your faith through song, your culture by dance, or something important about you, you will find that giving people a love of the arts, or any other area of talent, will last a lifetime. I know first-hand that having wonderful people to inspire me gives me the courage to go out on stage and share my gift. I also rely heavily on my faith. I know that God has given me a gift, and in sharing this gift I glorify Him! So you see that performing with a purpose is imperative to performing successfully.
Now that you know why you want to perform, the trick is finding the opportunity to perform. Opportunities truly do abound. Think hard about where your talent might be best showcased. What kind of events would your talent be appropriate for? After you have ascertained this, look in the newspaper for upcoming community and state events. Many times big events have a need for performers - not only singers, but dancers, artists, and musicians etc. Offer your talent, and see where it leads. With every performance you will grow. Another plus: some people will hear you at one performance and offer you a chance to perform at another event.
In addition, think about what organizations you are already involved with. Organizations you volunteer for, or your parents or friends work for, might have an event for you to perform at. That is how I was able to sing for Special Olympics, I saw that they had an event, asked if they needed singers, and guess what? They said yes!
If you are interested in winning awards with your talent, there are always talent competitions. Depending on your city size you might have a city talent competition, or county competitions, or on the larger scale state and national competitions. Usually your talent instructor will be able to direct you to these competitions as well as to prepare you to meet the criteria for competition. I have even won awards through 4-H, most recently the Grand Award for Performing Arts: Voice. I was also able to sing for the 4-H Fashion Show, held at the Pioneers Home, for Alaska's senior veterans.
In short, be on the look out for opportunities, and never be afraid to ask. The answer could be "No," but a lot of the times it truly can be "Yes"!
Passing It On
As with any gift, and anything that brings you joy, the best thing you can possibly do is "pass it on." To inspire others is a tremendous gift in and of itself. Just remember the people who inspired you along the way, take that inspiration they gave you, and find someone to pass your knowledge to. You can mentor others in so many ways. You could help a brother or a sister pursue the same talent as yourself. You could help a friend. Remember, age doesn't matter. Be willing to help, whether they are younger, the same age, or older than yourself.
I have found that teaching others voice is the way I enjoy singing the most. Helping others is a lifelong journey, and success in talent, will be part of that journey if you give of yourself. This, I believe, is the truest measure of success: making a difference in the lives of others. When you have done this you cannot help but feel that love return back to you. That is true success!
As I have mentioned your talent should be a part of your life's journey. I am now in college, pursuing a double major in political science and voice. Strange combination, I know, but this "singing politician" knows the benefits of finding your passion in life and following it.
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