Donald Brazile of Texarkana, Texas, is a longtime SUCCESS reader, but he typically skips over one section in particular: this one. As a minister, he didn’t think that SUCCESS for Teens, a personal-development curriculum offered by the SUCCESS Foundation, was relevant to his occupation.
“But while thumbing through a back issue, I finally read the article I always skipped,” he recalls. “I visited the website and read how people were using it across the country with teens.”
He decided to order SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk About Using the Slight Edge—the book is the core of the SUCCESS for Teens curriculum—for his side work as a voice and piano teacher for high school students, thinking it would help hone their performance. (The SUCCESS Foundation donates hard copies of the book to qualifying public schools, churches and nonprofit youth development programs; SUCCESSFoundation.org offers free downloads of the book and facilitator’s guide to everyone.)
“I learned long ago that singing is 20 percent talent and 80 percent behavior,” Brazile says. “Though the voice is a profound instrument, there are still basics every singer must learn and master regardless of the level of natural ability one is born with.”
His book order arrived in September 2014, and Brazile immediately started sharing the book and its lessons with his students.
“SUCCESS for Teens helps produce the total performer,” he says. “These great life skills and character-development principles are assisting young vocalists reach and live their performance dreams in high school musicals, recitals and competitions.”
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Brazile says he focuses on all eight chapters of the book—in which teens themselves talk about developing life skills through easy, manageable steps—but three in particular strike a chord with students.
“You can make your dreams come true,” Brazile says. “Set a goal, maybe audition for a lead in a musical theater production or a vocal competition.”
Another is that habits are powerful, he says: “Practice every day! Vocalize and memorize your audition pieces. Watch other performers on YouTube to improve your stage deportment.”
Finally: “There’s no such thing as a failure,” he says. “Regardless of the result of your audition, view every competition as a learning experience to propel you to the next level of your overall vocal development.”
Edward Harris, a senior at Arkansas High School in Texarkana, Ark., and a successful vocal competitor studying under Brazile, says, “I’ve come to realize through the program that no dream is too big.”
Since applying SUCCESS for Teens for two semesters, five of Brazile’s students from four area schools were awarded music education scholarships. Brazile hopes to make the program available to other high school students and even preteens in the area as well as incorporating it in the youth curriculum at his church.
“We are teaching one student at a time that success is not about smarts, looks, talent or luck,” he says. “It’s about becoming the best possible person you can be and making the most of your talents and opportunities.”
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To request books, learn about the program, share your story about it or make a contribution, visit SUCCESSFoundation.org. Leaders, participants and donors can request a profile in SUCCESS by emailing [email protected].
This article appears in the February 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.