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Oh, Say Can You ... This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     A fair number of people have experienced the joy and excitement of singing somewhere other than in the shower or car. They know the intense feeling of bravely expressing themselves in front of others. An experienced performer knows this well, while one with less experience may choke or bail right before performing. My incident not only was a horrible case of stage fright, but something I will never forget.

It’s been almost three years but I can still remember the exact date: Tuesday, November 11, the day I got up in front of 150 people to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” My choir teacher had asked me to do it and I gladly agreed. I practiced several times each day during the weeks leading up to my shot at those few minutes of fame. When I sang for friends, they told me I sounded wonderful and would do great, which made me ecstatic. I grew more confident as my performance approached.

Then the day finally arrived. I was excited - until about three o’ clock. Then suddenly I was terrified! I had never been so frightened in my life. I considered letting someone else do it, but then I started thinking about the last few months and how excited I had been. I decided I’d hang in there and that I’d still be alive in the end and my friends and family would be proud.

When it was finally time, I left for the high school with my parents. After one last run through, I walked across the gym floor with not the slightest idea of what lay ahead. The announcer leaned over to the microphone and looked at me.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please rise for the national anthem, sung by Gina Collebrusco.” I took a deep breath, nervously cradled the microphone, looked at our nation’s flag, and began.

Halfway through, I suddenly lost my focus and my mind went totally blank. I clicked off the microphone and muttered a swear word. I couldn’t believe it. I knew I had to finish, so I asked the ref what came next. He whispered, “O’er the ramparts we watched” and I turned the microphone back on and finished. Everyone applauded as I walked across the gym. I was just about in tears for two reasons: I had forgotten the words to our own national anthem, but I’d accomplished a daunting feat.

That experience scarred me so that I swore I’d never sing in front of people again. But lately, I am overcoming this by singing with my boyfriend. In fact, I sang in front of my choir class this year and plan to sing for the talent show. I hope to have a much better experience this time, which means - I hope I remember the words.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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