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A Terrifying Challenge

I took the chance to challenge myself in the exams as well.  A few months ago I began to lesson swap with the best pianist I know, me teaching him vocal technique and he was teaching me piano.  We had about 3 lessons and he decided to bite the bullet and do a grade. Of course a classical exam would have been pretty easy for him as he’s done all of the Aural and theory many times before.  But he’s like me and likes a challenge.

So he signed up to do the musical theatre exam, and of course didn’t start with a beginners Grade, no he wanted to do Grade 3.  Everything was going fine until my Dad died and I lost the will to practice.  I got really worried as I wasn’t managing to accompany him properly at all as I was in full on grief mode and couldn’t really  take instruction well at all.

When the date for the funeral was finally set it was the day before the exams.  It was clear that I wasn’t ready and we had no idea what sort of state I would be in on the exam day.   I was so worried that my poor playing would let him down.  ‘t asked if the exam could be changed but the lovely exam centre organiser (I’m sure there’s a proper name but I’m not sure what it is), didn’t come back to us with a different time until it was too late.

So psyched myself up for accompanying him for his exam.

As I spent the morning reassuring the candidates for their exams I was really nervous about the accompanying.  I was trying to practice in the little gaps I had between warming them up but really I had no time to prepare myself.  And as my friend was accompanying all of the other singers for their exam before he sat his own he had no time to prepare himself either.

Then we got into the exam room and I realised that, of course, I would be playing a grand piano.  My friend said that he made a deliberate choir not to tell me as he didn’t want me to freak out.  I think that was a good choice.  It felt so loud to play but apparently it’s not that loud.  It felt completely alien.  I always say that as a singer your instrument is in your body so it’s hard to predict it in the way that you can predict a clarinet or some other instrument. I never considered playing a completely alien instrument, in a pressured situation.  It’s scary stuff!

Anyway I made a few glaring mistakes and I don’t plan to start accompanying all of my students yet  but I’m proud to say that we, sorry he, passed, with a good solid merit.  I’m so proud of us both.