It was during my first audition with an honored Hollywood voice coach that the question was posed to me -- the question which forms part of the backdrop for this website.
In fact the Maestro was not taking any more students. He was 86 years old and had survived numerous health challenges. He had no compunctions about turning students away. Trained as a young man at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Milan, Italy, and after opening to excellent reviews in New York City, he had decided to teach rather than perform. He earned his reputation as the “Hollywood Starmaker”, perhaps a label since applied to others, as this was a long time ago.
I was permitted an audition thanks to the fortuitous referral of an existing student. As the vocal testing proceeded, the Maestro also chatted with me. He wanted only serious students, not the type expecting to become billable superstars in two weeks. (No kidding, he’d seen and rejected quite a few of those). In Milano, they studied hard for ten full years before being allowed to take the stage. A first fiasco is never the recommended way to launch a career. To perform well requires an underpinning of confidence.
At the Maestro’s behest, I explained about my business pursuits, personal interests, goals, etc. There was nothing detailed about my childhood. Near the conclusion of the session, however, this very wise man lowered his head a bit, looked straight into my eyes and asked: “You had a mother at home growing up, didn’t you?” Well, yes, I had. And he said, “I can tell”. And he shook his head. Because Hollywood is full of aspiring and even successful people who never had the luxury he discerned from my past. Wealth measured nothing to what he felt carried more weight with a child than the security and attention of a mother at home. He said he recognized an unmistakable core of confidence evident in those raised in traditional homes.
A mother at home. What does that mean, what does that require, and what does that accomplish?
First, to have a mother at home means there must be another means of support. That means there must be, ideally, a father, husband, provider. Oh, now we’re going back to tradition. If the father makes it possible for the mother to devote herself entirely to her household and family, that means the children never have to wonder if there’s anyone home to take care of their bruises, answer their questions, help with school work, feed, clothe and otherwise see to their comforts and security. No latchkey syndrome. She is the anchor to their development, if she does her job well. If she does her job exceedingly well, she imparts wisdom, good character lessons and the kind of self-discipline needed for success in life and work later. And her hard work allows the father-husband-provider to focus on his own responsibilities which are huge, because everything rests on his shoulders, and the children can see that, or should. Assuming the father is also doing his job, not just in his career but in the home, we have a secure model for children to develop in.
We’ll have more about that in later blogs.
Is there anything wrong with the traditional picture?
In principle, nothing is wrong with that picture. In practice, because people are imperfect, the model does not often or always work as it should.
So does kicking the model aside solve the problem?
In the end, if the model is broken, everyone suffers, but perhaps the children suffer the most, because going forward into life they have no memory of a working model to replicate.
To live well, like performing, requires an underpinning of confidence. This is what husband-fathers-providers do, or should, or must. To diminish those roles is like building a house on sand, sure to fall in the storms, because houses divided against themselves cannot stand.
More on this later, too.