If At First

You Don’t Succeed…

 

I always loved to sing. My mum was (and still is) an avid member of the Church choir and an outstanding singer in her own right. From an early age I would sing solos at Christmas and try to be the loudest singer in the congregation! My first main role came at the end of Primary School where I was selected to be Joseph in ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’. I remember everything about that performance, from the costume to the stage directions, but my overwhelming memory is of feeling an amazing buzz from being in front of an audience. It was clear to me at 10 years old that my future lay in performance.

As I entered secondary school, I was already learning to play the cello and piano and continuing with singing wherever I could. I joined the choir and music was my absolute favourite lesson of the week. I was confident and loved singing with a passion.

Then disaster struck.

During Year 8, there was an opportunity to be in the choir for ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat’ at the Winter Gardens in Blackpool, performing with Philip Schofield every night! This was obviously fate! I’d already performed the lead role at my primary school and I was confident that entry to the choir would be a breeze. I attended my audition and sang my heart out. The school selected the best 30 singers from Years 7-9 and I eagerly awaited their decision. When the list went up, my heart sank. My name was there, but on the reserve list! I hadn’t made it! How could this be?

After what seemed like an eternity of tears and tantrums, I picked myself back up again and decided that someone would drop out and I would be offered their place. It didn’t happen and so I watched my friends and peers go off to rehearsals and performances and listened to their amazing stories of the professional world I so desperately wanted to join.

Although this was absolutely my first experience of failure and disappointment, to this day I am so glad I experienced it. This business is fickle and hard hearted at times, and as a performer you have to develop a thick skin. This wasn’t the last time I would experience disappointment in this world, but in going through something like that at 12 years old, I know that firstly, you get over it and secondly it makes you more resilient and stronger than ever before. You have to learn to pick yourself up and throw yourself back out there. I continued to work towards my hopes and dreams and joined everything I could that was Performing Arts related. At that same school a few years later, I played the lead role in Guys and Dolls and received the ‘Senior singer of the Year’ award, so I definitely got back on my A game!

Confident children need to be nurtured and sometimes a negative result in something can actually help them grow. They need lots of love and encouragement and constant reminders that if at first you don’t succeed, try try again! If I had given up at that first hurdle, I’d never have got to where I am now.

Helen Ames BA(Hons) PGCE

Principal – Little Voices Hertfordshire West