Friday, August 31, 2007

Child Prodigy or Child labour?

One of the things we discussed on Aahaa Kaapi Klub. A man in China is making his 8 yeur old child run for more than 3500 kms as preps for the Olympics. More or less the distance from Chennai to Delhi. Not to mention a man made his 1 1/2 year old child swim in Chennai. Their so many seconds of fame. I seriously believe all these parents who make their children undergo unnatural exertion must be put behind bars. Avariciousness and not allowing the child to enjoy something as beautiful as childhood. I wonder whether this is something typical of Asian countries. Too much population, the drive to prove oneself in an ocean of people and the innate desire to stand out. If not oneself, then may it be his child.
A lot of talented singing children lose their singing voices by the time they are actually ready to perform and sing. Mom always used to watch in dismay in several occasions, especially the boys, she noted have a total loss of resonator in the early stages of voice transition. She says that there are several children's orchestra cropping up every day and the tyranny is that exerting boys after 12 years of age and girls after 13 years proves disastrous to the resonators in children. This need to be addressed on an elaborate platform and she hopes that it will be done soon. But do the avaricious parents realise that they are ruining the entire singing future of the children by doing this, never allowing them to learn properly, even before starting to learn the kids are forced to perform and earn. As is clear, nothing very different from child labour. Excepting that educated parents subject their children to such torture. By the time they grow up and truly understand the depth and beauty of music they probably will be bored and in some cases grow to dislike the art form. I am sooo glad that I have a mother who is knowledgeable and had the wisdom of not taking me around this way, and this was also the reason that she did not want me to perform when I was young. To this day she stresses that I should sing only when I want to and only if I truly enjoy it.
When I was about 12-13, I had the opportunity to meet the scholar T Vishwa and he said that I will thank my mother in the future because she did not put me in this "stupid practice of child prodigy and sing in every other street in the city". As a child, my mother did not allow me to participate in too many competitions. My entry in Saptaswarangal was quite by accident. And I never appeared in any other talent hunt thereafter. And 9 years down the line, people still remember my singing in the show, and not just that, even the colour of my dress on that day and my hairstyle. When I eventually did appear in a Talent Hunt, it was as a special guest, or a judge in some cases. Post ASSJ, I understand the velocity of what he said and these are times I thank all the stars and Gods that I have a parent who is one of the wisest in the field of music. To this day, and forever she will always remind me that it is better to be a good person than a great singer. Which I think every parent with a talented child must do. Encouragement is great, but constant reminders to learn and re-equip oneself, to push the child to grow as a complete individual is the parent's responsibility, which sadly a lot of them do not do. And the day anyone feels that he is the best in something that he is doing that is the end of the road for him.

Art constantly reminds a person that he is inadequate and that there is more to conquer. And to be an artiste in a life itself is a lesson in simplicity. Albert Einstein believed he was still a student of Physics until the day he breathed his last. Of course this is no parallel as long as art is concerned, but I could not but help bringing him up here.

Yes, it is sometimes necessary to showcase a young talent to the world at times, but not an exercise so regular and a daily rum-drum that by the time the children grow up, people lose interest. Of course the children also believe, due to lack of proper guidance from their parents, that they are better than the best in the world. And there stops learning.

A lot of times, nature also seems to teach lessons to men, as soon as the race believes that there is achievement and they have controlled her, there is a new problem. Nature is the biggest road roller of human audacity and ego. Every time there is a natural mishap, people temporarily go into a phase of introspection and then its back to the grind. Just like the temporary phase of "we re born alone and die alone" when we visit someone's funeral. Some also make a weak "I will lead a righteous life" that lasts a few hours.

I probably received this comment on this blog, Oscar Wilde's quote is classic, "I am not young enough to say I know everything".
Even when learned people advise these parents with singing children to take a break, they refuse to see the point. Hey, its all in the money, right? Why let children be fireflies when they can be torches?

Sigh and bigger sigh. After a point in time everyone gives up. And they let time be the tutor. Which is also probably why learned, experienced people do not waste their breath too much in a lot of cases. If they see promise somewhere they would probably give a hint. If the recipient is smart enough to take it, good, otherwise, as they say, time will tell. And it tells all.


My days(Gops) said...

u changd the timing of ur show
:(..... wondering wht hapend to u in "namma ooru angels"....

//number to call is 91-44-66110000. //
i've been trying this number for the last 2 months to catch u in namma ooru angels.. bad luck am still trying :(....

//Between 8:00 nd 9:00 AM IST, for my show in particular.//
:(... its early morning here..btw, this show also only in week days?

Musically Me said...

such an important issue.... the biggest fear is if the child thinks he is the best, as far as his field is concerned, at the young age and seems to take everything for granted then on. I also have seen many of them loose interest by the time they actually could do something about their talent coz they have been doing it since they were 2.

No one could understand my music teacher when he wanted his students to do justice to the learning process before getting onto the performance band wagon.. the parents thought my teacher was jealous of their kid's talent and he is trying to destroy their kid's talent by not letting them perform. God bless those children whose parents make them work horses.

Selvam said...

Great topic for discussion. You have covered almost all the aspects of this issue. Unfortunately, the only solution I can see is to bring awareness to people. I bet more than 90% of the people that exhibit such behavior are not even aware of it. Talkshow hosts like you can really make a difference by bringing such issues to the limelight. My best wishes for your continued contributions to the society.

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

gops: yes only on weekdays :)

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

musically me: the same happened with my mother.. as soon as people knew when I learnt from her alone everyone made a beeline to our house. Day 1 they come to class, day 2 they want to be singing for Rahman sir. All my mother asked was 3 years - no competitions, no exposure, to bring their voices and everything else around. And they thought my mother would not teach anyone except me. The problem is also the fact that some music orchestras centered on children give the parents false hopes. And worse, they make them sign a bond. Heard of that?

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

Selvam: only my mom and I know how parched our throats have become talking about this to concerned parents. and the problem is we cant take an issue like this on popular radio because this is only for a very small cross section of people, and only informed decisions and people who know what is happening can talk about it.

Narayanan Venkitu said...

I've also had a mixed feeling about Children's Orchestras. I am still not sure if they can be classified as Child Labor ( I know each kid based on some criteria get's a piece of the money).

These are new, happening the last few years.

I went for a concert while at India and even met some parents. Most of them were down to earth and pretty humble. I don't know if they force their kids ! I can only write what I saw that day.
The kids enjoyed it and the crowd loved it. They even mobbed Krishnamoorthy !

Well written and debatable topic.

Chinmayi Sripada /Chinmayee said...

several times the kids dont want to sing. Its something we have seen up close and personal. It is not open to public view. And yes let me tell you that a lot of them have learnt the art of false humility.. Krishnamoorthy deserves to be mobbed. But 5 years down the line, where will he be? How much is he learning to still be in the limelight 5 years down the line? That is my question. it requires foresight and great tenacity to be even a 'good' artiste. Most are happy with a piece of anything rather than work towards getting the whole.


I totally agree with you chinnus akka.. When I was ard 10 or 11 and in my school choir , We used to for inter school performances and I used to see really strict teachers forcing and exerting alot of pressure on the student when he/she couldnt reach a certain note.. Lucky for me , My teacher always emphasisied on natural singing where we only sing in a pitch where we comfortable and feel relaxed in at that age..As for me , My parents never stressed me on taking up music lessons but left it to my descision to take it up myself and they completely supported me.. But even in my music school , I see 5 or 6yr old students come and get pressured by the parents to sing properly and better.. Pity to see them though.. These kids are already stressed out by school and parents add to the stress by pressuring them to do something that they are not comfortable in just so the parents can have a "Child Prodigy" in their house.. Pretty Selfish of a thought ! To me whether if its art , sports or anything , It should come naturally and the interest should be put in by urself and not enforced by others..

Rangasai said...

The parents of the overburdened children are surely to blame.The reason this happens is people want their wards to be highly recognised in what they do so that they can parade them at each and every social function saying "my son won this","my daughter did that".What crap is this?Children orchestras are really a serious reason for causing burnout and by the time they attain their late teens their interests are diminished when that is the time they should really up their pace.And if the child thinks it is the best in whatever it does,that surely is the end of the road.As it is said "Thannambikaikum Thalakenathukkum konjam than edaivelai". These parents don't understand that fame is not everything and also it does not come simply because you perform on stage umpteen number of times .It is recognition you need which will lead to fame,not the other way around.Let God give these people some sense before they destroy their children's talents.And a special thanks to your mom for giving us such a lovely voice.

Art said...

This is a good topic..
I think as long as the children dont want to, parents shouldnt force them.. Also, letting the child in limelight at such an early stage surely will take away the childhood..

Same is with child acotrs too.. Dont u think?

Anonymous said...

To be brutally honest with you, I always have thought of kollywood artists to be "just good" at what they do....meaning they know nothing about the world except those that concern them, their celebrity and their prosperity. Your blog helped me remove that stereotype out of me.


Anonymous said...

Hi Chinmayi,

As you said, parents are really forcing their children to participate in all the competitons and they want them to be in all the TV shows just to tell their friends and relatives that their kid is a very famous person at a very small age.. Parents should know that all these should come out naturally and children should enjoy their childhood days and not be forced to attend Music,Dance classes, etc until they show their interest naturally.. Children becoming famous at this very young age think they are the best in everything and this makes them think they are the hero which spoils them. Hats off to you for bringing up this topic....Hope parents understand the consequences of all this and let their children enjoy the Child hood days... :-)