6. In The Bleak Midwinter – James Taylor https://open.spotify.com/track/5Ji4giaQ0yPOZBExb80Eaq
I just love this song. It was my favourite carol as a child, and I am currently working on a version of it for you as a gift 🎁
This holds a special place in my heart, as it made me face how important music was to me at a very young age. I was 13, and had gained the traditional 3rd verse solo ‘Enough for Him, whom cherubim…’. It wasn’t this tune – it was the old traditional tune with the long, high note at the end. I had worked on this so very hard in my singing lessons, every week, all term since September. After a couple of months, I gave a rendition in my lesson, to which my singing teacher said ‘that was beautiful!’ – (for what I remember being the first and only time in may years of coaching. That may well not be true though, but she wasn’t prone to giving compliments or expressing a personal opinion like that really).
When the day came, I was ready. Three months of lessons, rehearsals, practice. We had a concert in the sports hall at school, with 200 audience, half the school performing, huge choir. ….
….. the people in the row behind me, egging me on, nudged me in the back wishing me ‘luck’, I felt the ball of nerves climb up my throat, feeling like it was choking me, blood rushing in my ears I felt deaf. What I sang was awful and I sang the last phrase pretty much a semitone sharp. I could see me choir director was disappointed and I was devastated.
It was a few days before we broke up for holidays and I was bullied mercilessly and constantly for the rest of term. It made me so miserable that I pretty much decided I was going to give up singing. I really was very upset at the thoughts, and remember getting off the train and walking over the bridge on the last day of term to meet my Mum who was picking me up. I remember as I walked down the stiars, recognising that the reason I had messed it up so badly was because I’d let my nerves get the better of me. If I could stop that from happening, maybe I would have a better chance at performing what I really could do. I knew I could do it better but all those people would never know that. I vowed then to never let it happen again, however bad I feel, because it’s just not constructive. I’d just send that bad feeling away. Ignore it. By indulging in nervousness, I ruined 3 months of my hard work. By the time I got to the bottom of the staircase, I had decided I would keep singing, and just never let nerves get the better of me again. It hasn’t always been easy, but I remember the determination of that tender 13 year old heart, and think, if she can be that brave, so can I.