It’s interesting that the people who can sing are, on average, more educated than the people who can’t. So it’s likely that those who can sing are more intelligent and more literate, and it can probably be said that it is an advantage that they have some kind of training or some sort of learning process. I’d be willing to speculate that when I was growing up and was given lessons in music, they weren’t necessarily taught about the fact of the singing and their own skills.
In this sense the story doesn’t quite fit with the popular view. But that’s what popular culture is for: entertainment, so it doesn’t get in the way of what matters.
I should mention that, in the film, the kids and the adults who sang were generally well known performers. They had studied in conservatories, or they were involved in the music.
The question about the children and the adults is that is really a good question, and it’s one that some scholars who specialize in the topic do examine. A number of scholars have looked at different areas of this: one of the biggest is Elizabeth I, when she was king of England. In the 16th century, she was given a child as a gift in order to give the kingdom a new song. This child grew up and would become, essentially, a national institution, with a whole lot of public support. But when she was queen, she found herself struggling under different conditions—in the 16th and 17th centuries, the music was not quite as well known as it is today, even now—and she wanted to increase its popularity. So she wanted to give it to children who were very skilled at it.
And so what she did was give the prince a little child, and she made sure he’d have the instrument—it was called the “drummer,” but it may have even had the same name as the instrument, too—and she made sure she made that instrument in every one of his schools. In fact she made the same thing that she did for the children—it must have cost her about 50,000 guilders. At that point she turned around and sent the instrument back to the composer, and also gave him a thousand guilders in return, for the same reason. So in the end it was a deal that she was pretty much forced to honor. And it was a deal that they knew would be difficult to achieve since, of all of the things that they could
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