The setting is a tribe on the edge of the Neolithic and agriculture. While this tribal group is not yet fully agricultural, there are others around who are.
The 'tribe' is really a group of hundreds of 'clan' units spread of tens of thousands of square km. Each clan is a few hundred people at most; 100 at least. The clans are semi-sedentary, moving a few times each year to take advantage of hunting, fishing, and gathering resources as they become available.
There are few occupational specializations in this tribe. Each clan will have its chief and a shaman or medicine man. Perhaps some of the older widows are medicine women of some sort. But one highly prized and specialized person is the bard. The storyteller, who remembers and retells the stories of the tribes foundation, of its heroes from long ago, of the tales of comedy and tragedy from the long history of the people.
How old does a person have to be before they can become the bard? There are a two basic options, as I see it:
- The next bard is chosen before they become a working age, 'initiated' member of the tribe. They chose either mystically, through some religious ceremony, or selected as a child based on supposed good attributes, and taken into apprenticeship by the current bard.
- When the old bard dies or starts to become decrepit, the adult, 'initiated' member of the tribe with the best set of skills (memory, singing voice, storytelling charisma) becomes the next bard.
The advantage of the first way is that the bard has more time to become skilled and carries more stores from generation to generation. The advantage of the second way is that fewer tribe resources are devoted to bards at any given time (after all, without farming life can become pretty lean, on a seasonal basis).
Which of these choices is a more reasonable way for a tribe to select a bard?