My heart is beating fast. As the time for me to sing draws ever nearer, it beats faster and faster. I have been in one of these concerts only once before, and that was when I was playing piano. This was different. I was going to sing this time. The front row of seats in the concert hall was for the students who would be in the concert. I count the heads in the front row to the left of me. There are only five students left until my time comes. Most are going to play piano, some are going to play guitar, and only a few are going to be singing, including me. I keep stealing glances back at my voice instructor, Liz. I bet she is nervous, too. She is going to play the piano for my song. Only two students left. Then one. It is my turn.
Let’s back up a little. I have always loved singing. In fifth grade, I entered the talent show and sang Back to December by Taylor Swift. When Mom first started my brothers and me with music lessons given by student instructors at our local college, I wanted to take voice lessons. My mom asked about it, and the response was not in my favor. They said that we probably should not do it yet, that we should wait until my voice was a little bit more mature. Therefore, we followed their advice and I took piano for three years. It worked out because I got a basic education of notes on a staff and other things that come in handy during voice lessons. After piano lessons, I took voice lessons, which I am still taking.
The night of this concert, we had come thirty minutes early, so I could warm up my voice and go over the song one more time before I had to sing it to everyone. We went over my song twice, and then she went over her other student’s song one time. Liz gave us both gifts – travel cups. I got a pink travel cup and she got an aqua blue one. I was proud of mine. I loved it! We finished warming up and headed out of the practice room. We make our way through the throng of people enjoying themselves in the hallway outside of the concert hall and stroll in. There are some people standing around in the aisles, talking. We waltz right past them, Liz’s other student and I, and up to the front row. I can see my parents and my family sitting over to the far left, in the third section nearest the left wall. I wave and they wave back with big grins. That made me feel a little bit better, helped calm the butterflies’ frantically flying in my stomach just a little. We are shown where we will sit while we wait for our turns during the concert. I take my seat, and the program begins.
If I had felt nervous before, once I get up on the stage, we take our bows, and I wait for Liz to start playing the intro to my song, my heart is beating faster than it ever has before. It is thrilling and frightening at the same time. I would have never imagined back in fifth grade that a mere four years later, I would again be standing on a stage, singing a song in front of this many people. It is an amazing thing, time. You never know where it will take you, who you will become, what will happen. As I look out at the audience, I start to panic. I feel I just cannot do it. I am not going be able to sing. I am too scared. There are too many people. The intro is nearly over. It is time for me to sing. Now.
I am still panicking on the inside, thinking there is no possible way I am going to be able to sing with all these people staring at me. Then I hear this voice, which sounds a lot like mine, at just the right time: “Look at me, I will never pass for a perfect bride, or a perfect daughter, can it be, I’m not meant to play this part…” At first, I do not know who is singing. Then I realize I am the voice singing the words to my song. I am actually singing! I have done it! My hopes soar and I realize that although it is frightening, and I did not think I could do it before, I could. I finally believe in myself, believing I was wrong at first, saying I could not do it, that there were too many people, but that I actually had the confidence in me to sing the whole song. The butterflies are still there, but they are not as pronounced as they were before. Then Liz drops out on the piano.
It is not the end of the song. There is supposed to be no break in the music. At first, I panic again. “Oh no, I’m going to drop out, too! I always do in lessons!” I think. The butterflies have returned in my stomach, full force. However, my voice does not listen to my brain. I keep right on going, keep on singing, and she picks back up when she finds her place again on the sheet music. Relief flows through me. I have made it through so far, even when there was no sound coming from the piano. If I could do that, I could do anything! Finally, the last notes of the song come, “when will my reflection show, who I am inside?” I had done it. I had sung the whole song, not flubbing a single note.
Funny how much I have changed over the years. From the little girl of eleven I once was, scared out of my wits on the gymnasium stage singing Back to December in front a large audience of teachers, parents, and family of everyone else to the young woman I am so often told I have become. Music has shaped me much over the years, has always played a large part of my life – from the days when I would listen to Michael Crawford, and hear him sing The Disney Album to the days when I was Taylor Swift’s biggest fan. That is why I sing. I sing because I love music; it is my passion. Whether it is karaoke at a slumber party with my friends, singing along with Kidz Bop blaring through my tablet speakers at my cousin’s house, or singing at the meetings with my congregation, I love it. Singing is singing, no matter where it is at, who it is with, or if it is the right way to sing or the worst way to sing. I love that diversity. It is what makes each song original, each song unique.
Grinning from ear to ear, I take my bow and gesture to Liz, who stands up and takes her bow. We both walk off the stage, back to our seats. I am relieved. The moment we had been working towards all semester is over. “No more singing in front of an audience like that for at least another year,” I think gratefully as I sit back down in my seat.
I once heard a quote by Henry Ford that said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”. I think that quote applies beautifully to this personal experience because at first I thought I could not sing. That I would not be able to do it when the time came for me to sing, to do my part. Nevertheless, I did, and that gave me the courage to believe that I could do it later, when the piano stopped. It gave me the confidence to believe in myself, even when things did not go as planned. The lesson I took from this is that we all need to believe in ourselves. We all need to find that awkward situation that once we conquer, will give us the confidence to believe in ourselves; that will give us the feeling that we can do it. Once we do that, we will have that confidence that gives us a feeling that we can do anything. That we can rule the world.
That confidence just might help us to be able to stand up to people who say we cannot do it yet, we are too young to do something, or we won’t understand something because we’re not smart enough. That confidence will give us the courage to stand up to that person and let them know that they are wrong. We are smart enough. We can do it.
Bullies will not have their power over us for long. We will have that confidence, that belief that we can do it. We are worth something, no matter what they may say to try to prove us wrong. That is what singing does for me. It gives me that confidence. You can find what gives you that confidence, too. You just have to try. I have that confidence in you.