I’ve mentioned before how we love music in our family and we all dabble a bit here and there. Miss Dee plays two instruments and about a year ago we discovered she has a lovely voice. The discovery came about because I decided, against all odds, that I would learn to sing (you would know what I mean if you had heard me then). As I progressed through my lessons, Miss Dee thought it sounded like fun and joined in the lessons too. The lessons only lasted a few months as the teacher had other commitments. Recently, I found a new singing teacher, but Miss Dee already had enough activities on.
Last week Miss Dee and a girlfriend heard that auditions were being held for her school music program for next year. They went to speak to the music teacher about it.
The teacher told them he had plenty of people already and they needed to be really confident. The implication being that they weren’t (they had both applied at the beginning of the year and missed out). He also said they were late anyway and there wasn’t such a thing as formal auditions. If they got in, they would have to find themselves formal tutors.
When I heard this I was a bit taken aback. I would have thought the teacher would have wanted to encourage as many students as possible. Yes, not everyone is as talented as the school “stars”, but school should be a place of open opportunities. At this age the kids are still developing their talents, they feel shy and uncertain. It’s these sorts of comments that tend to send them in the opposite direction.
“I am not good enough, Mum,” Miss Dee said. Annie* and Susan* are much better than I am.
“There is always going to be someone better than you and someone worse. It’s about what you can do. Shall I speak to your music teacher?”
“No, Mum. It’s OK really.”
So I was quite surprised when on the Friday of that week, Miss Dee told me the music teacher had put them down for an audition on Monday. She found out via a list on his door. Lucky she looked.
The audition consists of two contrasting songs, so on Friday night we were frantically trying to select two songs that would suit her voice. One choice was easy. Miss Dee is very good with Adele songs so she picked “Rolling in the Deep.” We finally settled on a second one, but we both had misgivings about it.
On Saturday, I had my weekly singing lesson and it occurred to me that Miss Dee could get some helpful hints. Miss Dee agreed to come along.
I wasn’t sure what I expected my teacher would do, particularly given we only had twenty minutes left. Correct Miss Dee on some of her vocals perhaps? Advise her on the right breathing technique?
I was wrong on both counts. She listened to Miss Dee sing her songs and then suggested a new second song.
Half way through listening to Miss Dee singing ‘Rolling in the Deep’ again, she interrupted her. “Sounds good. I am always nervous before a performance,” she said, “everyone is. What you need to do is pretend you are not. Stand there with your hands relaxed and think you have this. Don’t let them see you hesitate. Don’t look apologetic when a note is not quite right. The more you pretend, the more confident you will look and the better you will sound. Move with it. Enjoy it. Let’s have it again.”
The sound that came of Miss Dee’s mouth next surprised even the teacher. She was giving it her all and it showed.
On our way home, Miss Dee said to me, “I’m not sure what she said, Mum, but I have a spark inside me now.”
I suspect Miss Dee will continue to enjoy music and share it with others for a long time to come. She has the spark now.
PS. It was a nervous week-long wait, but she got accepted into the program!