Several years ago I was on a bus and an oldish woman, grey-haired and cranky, noticed I was reading a music score and demanded my opinion on a certain situation.
It turns out she was a school teacher who had been having confrontations with a grade 10 student who couldn’t be bothered doing any schoolwork. His justification for this was that he was going to be a famous rock musician and thus school curriculum wouldn’t matter as he ‘played guitar’ and had ‘over 1000 hits’ on youtube. Conversely the teacher went a little too far and tried to get me to ‘admit’ that not only is that no indication of future success but also there could not possibly be any careers whatsoever in something like ‘music.’
On this occasion I strongly sensed here was a person who only wanted their views reinforced, so I made a non-commital sort of answer. But I think it poses some interesting questions.
Obviously, with the situation presented there is obviously a lot of ignorance on both sides. In all likelihood the student was not going anywhere with a bloated sense of achievement, and a dim awareness that there were thousands if not millions of teenagers with similar ambitions also posting indistinguishable generic rock/metal videos having had little music education. Similarly if a student gives up so easily on schoolwork at a mid-highschool level on grounds of perceived future fame, then chances are they probably don’t have much in the way of …
On the other hand, I can think of a few notable exceptions of people who have made a massive impact in music, and art in general, with little/no promise. Satie for instance – apparently as a student his piano examiners called his performances ‘worthless, mediocre, feeble, insignificant and laborious.’ In other words, perhaps a little hesitation is called for on the part of spectators before condemning someone ‘worthless, mediocre, feeble, insignificant and laborious’ attempting to swim in the foul, murky waters that comprise roughly 71.11% of the art world. Sometimes ignorance and/or pigheadedness can be bliss. Also might I point out that even those who approach it the ‘right way’ with swimming lessons and patience frequently drown or leave and do something else.
To condemn anyway, the student was most likely an unmotivated, untalented s@#t who talked back to teachers and was oversubscribed to the idea of sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll, so brilliantly advertised in movies, that any moron who mindlessly thrashes at/holds a guitar or makes noise at a drum kit is the modern day equivalent to the “Wander above a Sea of Mist,’ with female attraction proportional to the decibel level, instead of number of romantic illnesses (consumption, syphilis et al).
Furthermore, his delusion at having ‘hits’ on youtube (Nyan cat has over 64 million) leading to fame grossly oversimplifies the complexities of the ‘music industry’ and a somewhat arrogant expectation that before the end of compulsory schooling some wandering talent-agent is going to comment on his video with ‘OMFG your going to be next BIG thing!’ ([sic]) leading down a short happy fantasy path to high-profile tours, obscene wealth, sex, grunge metal, awesomeness, sex and assorted luxuries, including a yacht.
Having said that, it does actually happen a lot. The problem lies in that the ratio of untalented musicians to successful, untalented musicians is quite high, and hence is an unrealistic expectation.
The other party however, represents another breed of ignorance. An antique attitude that demands following the safe, established education-system approved pathways to success and happiness (teachers/grown-ups know best!) In other words, it means being a nice, good, punctual, well-behaved and dressed student, always doing the allocated homework, going to university where they carry piles of books between buildings and wear glasses, and then ultimately settling into a nice, sensible career such as teaching or accounting. If the lambs go to any options outside of this predictable sphere, they become lost souls. Hippies, drug addicts, delinquents and musicians!
The ‘teacher’ component of the situation could not and does not want to comprehend that people can survive outside of a nice 9am to 5pm job. Perhaps it is a form of repression? Back in stricter times, and without the world-wide social network that is the internet – a plethora of influences, the old-fashioned student was left with little choice but to ‘follow the fold.’ Set in relief among the current generation of both perceived and actual scallywags and rapscallions, going off and doing their own thing, it would not be surprising if a measure of resentment remains to snarl at their freedom, originality and ambition.
So, at length, this is my real answer. Stop being so closed-minded and let him probably fail on his own. That way you won’t look so bad if he succeeds, or he’ll learn the hard way and won’t spend the rest of life regretting not taking the risks in the first place and ending up as a bitter husk.
It’s been a while since I was able to complete a rant – usually they just keep going until I think it’d be far too depressing and rambling to post.