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What the first few hours of a talent journey look like

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Today I snuck a picture of what the beginning first few hours of a 10,000 hours talent journey looks like for a young boy.

What you see is my son Simeon reading from “Hank the Cowdog.” He is eight years old and he is in his first few hours of attempting to get good at voice-acting. Notice that next to him he has an old digital recorder that he borrowed from me. He started  a few weeks ago with reading “Calvin and Hobbes” aloud with lots of enthusiasm. I then encouraged him to record himself so he can play it back and see what parts of his voice acting he does and doesn’t like. Every day now for the last couple of weeks, I have agreed that one of his regular school hours will be dedicated to practicing his voice by reading aloud to the recorder.

He likes his privacy as he is still very self-conscious, but his confidence is growing daily. Last week we had to close his bedroom window so that the neighbors did not misconstrue the noises drifting over the fence for someone who was truly in pain – there was a “pain” passage in the text that he discovered he could really bring out with extra gusto.

So what do I expect from all this daily effort from a little boy? Well, I expect that this one little skill will grow, but it will not stay on a fixed trajectory. I fully expect the skill to morph into something different and unique as we add one other little skill on top of another to make it more challenging, interesting, and meaningful. He also has, per Dad’s insistence, a set time every day that he must practice. I treat it as seriously as his math or handwriting.

The next step after recording for his private feedback, might be to set him up with a little audio blog. Maybe he can read his older sister’s blog stories and load those up. Maybe at some point he can start reading some of his regular school materials with some voice interpretations so he can start pegging what he is learning with the skill he is interested in. He’s already concerned that his voice sounds too babyish. This is gradually getting him more emotionally invested in what he is doing.  Maybe this concern will translate into an opportunity for his older brother to help him digitally enhance his recorded voice to sound better. And this could get him introduced in a meaningful way to the technical side of audio recording.

The possibilities are expanding as he digs in a little deeper every week. I expect that we will not choose to exercise all the possibilities that present themselves. This is because we want to grow a talent for him that adapts to the best opportunities available. I do not want to slavishly follow a path to match a career labeled “voice actor” that may or may not exist for him when he is an adult. 

This is how you start lighting the fire of motivation in a young boy’s life. The beginning of a 10,000 hours of talent journey is discreet and modest just like this. You have the power to jump-start this journey early. And I can help you find a realistic focus that makes sense to both your child’s future and to your family’s unique environment.

For a treat, listen to Simeon’s early voice practice.

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