“The Voice” Is a Writing Lesson

Months of alternating boring and exciting performances in “The Voice” came to the season’s finals last night. While all four of the very talented, disciplined, dedicated, and a dozen other adjectives, singers are still in the running, I’ll say, “The mentors deserve a lot of credit, too.” All four of them, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera, CeeLo Green, and Blake Shelton showed true moments of teaching greatness last night.

Blake Shelton hit it out of the park with Jermaine Paul when they sang “Soul Man.” A real music expert may have heard mistakes, but I didn’t. Shelton’s ability and generosity to perform in his mentee’s genre, rather than his own, is what made me think how teaching art is as much inspiration and caring, as it is recitation of fact and technique. Helping a person learn how to write and bring out their own style will inevitably mean stepping out of one’s own genre.

Christina Aguilera also did that with Chris Mann. She admitted he is trained in a field that she is not, and that alone acknowledges a hole in a teacher’s expertise. But throughout, all four mentors have been respectful of talent that can alway eclipse any teacher’s; who also is a human with an ego and insecurities. The power of Aguilera’s voice was up to the operatic strength of Mann’s when they performed “The Prayer,” and if you didn’t know, you may not have been able to choose who had the more established career.

Last night Adam Levine again had to sit through what all four mentors have had to sit through this season; someone else doing their signature song. Tony Lucca did a great performance of “Harder to Breathe,” which I don’t think would be easy to sing. Watching a student try to copy, steal, and make his own something that the teacher created has got to have a surprising edge in it. Simultaneously proud and protective of your own work, Levine would have had to face the competing emotions of realizing another can take your creation and run head-long toward success with it.

Last on the program was CeeLo Green’s Juliet Simms. A listener may not like the style of Simms’ gritty singing, but her emotion with heart that drips a story of honeyed hell, and her ability to hold an audience, has to make a teacher proud, afraid, and happy for a student that should now be leaving for the next teacher; life. It is a moment of graduation when a mentor relinquishes with sincere best wishes.

All paths of life have side roads of intuition and creativity that improve even the most routine tasks. Allowing intuition and creativity to deepen while teaching basics that need respect and practice, and then parting ways is not always easy.


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