I have no particular talent. I can carry a tune, so I can sing along, but my voice is not particularly interesting or especially pleasing. Likewise, I can enjoy dancing, and have some rhythm, but my ability to retain choreography is lacking. Even basic party crowd pleasers can be awkward for me. I’m a lousy photographer. Actually, I’m no photographer at all. At least I have a phone. I can’t paint or draw or sculpt. I took piano lessons for a few years as a kid, and can’t play at all. I didn’t dare try any other instruments. I enjoyed being part of stage productions, but not because I was any thespian. I just had fun despite my lack of talent.
For me,creating art in any variety, was an alien experience. What I heard musically, I couldn’t reproduce (except in an ordinary voice, best blended among other voices and instruments). What I wanted to capture with a camera, rarely appeared as I saw it. Dance as rhythmic movement to music was always a good diversion, but memorizing steps was not natural for me. There seemed to be a disconnect between my memory and my feet. Likewise with the piano: I could hear the way the music should be, but my fingers couldn’t reproduce it. And the graphic arts eluded me entirely. Yet, I have always gravitated to the arts. The arts may not have been my own expression, but learning to appreciate the arts and how to see art, hear music, and how the body can move, has shaped my entire life.
Like language, arts reflect cultural attitudes as well as manifest individual expression. The more one learns the grammar, the more one can access and comprehend and be enriched. I may lack certain abilities necessary for producing my own art form, but I have learned how to see and hear–how to appreciate, and that appreciation of all forms of art and their connections to all of life has enhanced my life experience.
As an educator, I can not underscore enough the power and significance of developing an appreciation for the arts. It is part of literacy. Like language, the arts connect ideas with expression. They are not peripheral. Not everyone needs to have artistic talent, but the arts are necessary for everyone. We need not be practitioners, but we do need to cultivate our appreciation and train our senses. Art is a human instinct. It drives culture. Art forms.