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

Your child excelling in their Christmas Production or nativity or struggling with the enormity of it all! – from a parent and a teacher’s perspective!

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It was during the Christmas period that my own voice was really spotted at my Junior School, Heathfield! We were performing the nativity “He’s Only a Baby” and I was chosen to be Mary. I sang solo for the very first time and my parents and grandparents were there to watch, stunned and amazed. All the other parents were apparently coming up to them afterwards saying “Oh my goodness her voice is outstanding where does she have singing lessons?” I didn’t have singing lessons, I didn’t really even know that I was that good a singer. But I was, it seemed, and from that performance on I was bitten by the singing bug and the love of performing. It gave me the confidence to pursue singing lessons and it gave my parents the foresight to channel my passion and something that I was good at. It is thanks to them that my talent for performing was nurtured from this point on! Little did they know that the cost would run into thousands and thousands years on and two degrees later!

It is always at this time of year that you are invited into school to see the Christmas Nativity or School Production as a parent or you are in the midst of frantically pulling a performance together as a teacher.

I believe that it is at this time of year that potential in children is spotted as parents and teachers alike see a child in a different light. They see them cope with the nerves, the pressure, the excitement and the challenge of performance. Those children that have been hiding their light under a bushel bubble to the surface! They achieve new things and every child pushes their comfort boundary and rises to the challenge.

I saw this only last night when I found myself in a dual role as teacher and parent. My own daughter was performing in her school Christmas nativity performance; however, as the teacher in charge of the choir I was very much a part of the production too.

As a parent I know firsthand how it feels to see your child standing on stage performing, you only have eyes for them. However, last night, in my teacher role, I accompanied and observed children of all ages excelling in their performances both sung, spoken and dramatically on stage in the most beautiful church. I was so proud and I could see pride in all of their parent’s faces too in the audience of several hundred. To be honest I couldn’t really see my own child from where I was positioned with the piano and so I couldn’t be parent last night, sadly!

Several children sang solo for the first time and they were absolutely stunning in their composure and vocal delivery. This may be the start of their singing bug……..it may be the first time that the parents think, “gosh we have to channel this talent and look for singing lessons and drama lessons for our child.”

Among a school performance the success is not just about the ‘stars of the show’ it runs so much deeper than that. There are many less confident children involved too and their success is often just in being able to stand in front of such a mass of people. For some, performing is a really daunting experience but I absolutely know that the benefits of learning how to perform and learning in a fun environment are immense.  The benefits for them in later life are immeasurable; we all have to communicate to strangers in our workplace, we all have to learn to project our voices and have the confidence to deal with interview (scary) situations. It is so important that children are given the skills to be able to deal with these life situations.

When I see a child on the stage struggling to cope with the attention and daunting situation or not clearly enunciating their words it is equally a child that I want to help and work with to develop the skills through drama and singing to perform. This is as important to me as wanting to help those with talent shining through.

If this rings true with you and anything I have said has touched you, or sounds like your child this December then I urge you to find something next year to help your child to grow. It is the perfect time for parents to look for an after school activity that can help them develop their confidence next year or develop their talent. You will witness the growth of their confidence in all areas of their life in the future.

My little 7 year old is a bundle of energy and excitement as the adrenalin kicks in and she is keen to get on stage and perform. This is no doubt because she has it in her blood, I suppose, but also because she has had it nurtured for so many years at Little Voices. Starting the company was the best thing that I ever did all those years ago, I have the best of all worlds and seeing children develop is the most rewarding of all!