Thursday, August 26, 2010

MPT12--Tenth Grade (Performing Arts edition)

This is the 12th in a series of 15 posts recounting my childhood. (To see parts 1 through 11, click the label "MPT" in my sidebar.) Today's topic is Tenth Grade. I've been singing and dancing since I was born--I can't help it, I cannot listen passively to music. ;-) Also, I lived near Chicago so (thanks to my generous parents) I grew up going to Broadway musicals (traveling companies) downtown. So naturally I wanted to grow up and be on Broadway. Just one problem (talent notwithstanding), I'm painfully shy. When I was in 7th grade, this woman named Kimmie decided our little junior high (MM) and the other little junior high (SR) would put on a musical together and she would direct. (I think Kimmie was a mother of someone at SR, I totally don't know.) In 7th grade, the musical she put together was "The Music Man." So you'd think, what with these Broadway aspirations, I would jump at the chance to be in the show. Nope, I was too shy to audition.

In eighth grade, the musical was "Annie" and this time I worked up the guts to audition. {I have to mention here, that I loved the musical "Annie" and once my neighborhood performed the musical in our basement and as I had the best voice (of the 7 or 8 of us) I played the lead role. LOL} You could audition alone or in groups and I had my solo audition all planned but at the last minute, two friends (Jane and Jill) convinced me we should all audition together. I was a shy and awkward mess but I thought I sang pretty well. Jane got a call-back but Jill and I did not (but since this was junior high, everyone who auditions gets to be in the show). Turns out Jane got one of the lead roles--Grace. Jill and I got matching roles as maids. (My one line was "the silk, no the satin sheets I think" in the middle of the song "I think I'm gonna like it here.") At the time, I was confused and a little bitter that Jane and I had sung equally well (in my opinion), but she got the big break, but now I can appreciate that Kimmie would have seen my extreme nervousness at the audition and known better than to give me a large role. Duh!

In 9th grade, I took Freshman Acting and in 10th grade I took Sophomore Acting. At the time, I thought anyone could act. I figured we act all the time in real life--we pretend to like your new haircut, we pretend to like a gift when we don't, etc. But it was in 10th grade that I finally realized I can't act.

Freshman Acting was an easy class, we did some improv (I'd say in hindsight that I'm better at improv than line-reading), we did dramatic readings of poetry. No big deal. In Sophomore Acting, however... well, first of all, I was in class with some great actors, some of the best in my graduating class: Sandro, Erin, that other guy what's-his-name. That gave me a little perspective on my own (lack of) abilities.

The whole class would be performing the play "The Glass Menagerie" with different students in each scene. We were supposed to audition for 3 scenes, I only had the nerve to audition for two. In the end, I was cast as Laura in the smallest scene, I think I had 5 lines--and even those, I just couldn't deliver well. What the heck was I doing?! Anyway, the play went off without a hitch, but I did finally catch on that acting was not my thing and I quit the class at the semester break.

I was still very much into singing. I loved performing in choirs, no solos required! In 10th grade I was in Musettes, the sophomore girls choir. (As I mentioned last week, anyone could be in freshman or sophomore choirs without auditions. Tons of girls participated in Freshman Girls Choir' fewer participated in Musettes, I believe there were only two sections.) My director was Mr. Klinka, who wasn't the best choir director I've ever had but he was a nice guy and we had fun. It was early in the year when I switched from being a soprano to an alto (I think I had a cold on the day we were figuring out voice parts, so I didn't have my high notes)--and I fell in love with all the harmony and was an alto ever after. :-)

I don't believe I've mentioned in these piggy tales how much I hated Physical Education. In Illinois, you had to take PE every single day. (I was shocked, in college, to learn that this was not the case in other states. I met people who had PE once a week or only one trimester per year. I was so jealous!) In 9th grade, we cycled through various PE courses like swimming, running, basketball. Finally in 10th grade, I was allowed to take Dance for one semester. Anyone could take beginner dance, thereafter it was by audition. (Second semester, I had to take regular PE, I took running or whatever it was called and then never took PE again. Woohoo, it was dance forever after. Yea!)

I was in Beginner Dance with my friend Jenny and loved it. My teacher was Mrs. Gans. It was a mixture of ballet and contemporary. We learned a few foot positions, did some twirls, nothing too tough. I knew I wasn't a great dancer, but I had rhythm and was right in the middle of the pack--not the best dancer but not the worst. When we auditioned at the end of the year for Intermediate, I made it (woohoo!) but my friend Jenny did not.

At the end of sophomore year, we had auditions for next year's choirs. The choices for girls were: Girls Chorus (the default for anyone who didn't get into one of the better choirs), Choir Opera, Concert Choir, and (the best of the best) Swing Choir. I auditioned for all three and ranked Swing as my 1st choice, Cho-Op as 2nd, Concert as 3rd. And I checked the box that I only had time for one choir (although if you make it into Swing, you are expected to also be in Cho-Op or Concert).

Swing Choir was elite and small--maybe 8 girls and 8 guys. Mr. Bachmann was the director. At the beginning of that audition, we did scales and I had an icredible range that day, I kept singing higher and higher notes and even Mr. B was surprised ("you're an alto?!") and then I went to sing my prepared piece--and lost my voice! Seriously! I guess all the scales and high notes stressed my voice, because I couldn't sing anymore. Mr. B encouraged me to finish the audition another day, but for whatever reason, I never did. I don't really regret that. I tried again the next year.

Choir Opera was the class that puts on the big musical each year. If you want to be in the big musical, you have to be in Cho-Op. I still had musical-theater aspirations, so I really wanted into Cho-Op.

Oh, I'm having flashbacks! I auditioned for a few plays and musicals those first two years of high school. (Keep in mind, this was a huge school, each year there were several productions.) I never even made the call-backs. Again, what was I thinking?! LOL

To get into Cho-Op, you had to sing plus either dance or act. Which meant I needed to find a monologue. I was totally a fish out of water on this one. I got a book of monologues from the library and chose one where I was like a waitress in a diner. I'm sure it was awful, but my singing got me in.

Okay, I didn't plan to write this story, and I know this post is already enormous, but I have to explain how I ended up in Concert Choir. The day we were supposed to find out which choir we got into, I didn't get my results. The letters were sent to advisory and I had no letter. I was distraught, hysterical (well, I don't think I cried at school, just once I got home). I thought I would have at least made Concert Choir (no acting required). It was a crisis. I knew I wasn't the best singer, but I thought I was good enough to make it into something and I really DID NOT want to be in Girls Chorus--it's for losers. (Oh the melodrama! I hate that I was such a brat that night saying I wouldn't be in Girls Chorus, I'd rather NOT SING than be in Girls Chorus. Shame on me!)

The next day at school, all the rosters of the various choirs were posted in the music hallway. Everyone was crowded around the board and I just started frantically searching for my name--I didn't even look at what choir each list was for, I scoured them all for my name. When I found my name (which was relief in itself) I looked to see what choir it was--and it was Cho-Op! My big dream! I couldn't believe it!

I headed into Musettes and for whatever reason we were watching a movie that day with another choir class. Well all the emotions of the last 24 hours flooded over and I started crying. Mr. Smith, the director of the other class and leader of Concert Choir, noticed me crying and asked what happened. I told him how I didn't get a letter the previous day and I didn't think I'd made it into any choir, but now apparently I was in Cho-Op. He apologized, confirmed I did indeed get into Cho-Op and in fact I would've made it into Concert Choir too (what? wow!) if I'd said I could be in two choirs. He was so nice and I was so thrilled that I asked him if I could do Concert Choir too and he said he could arrange that.

Without giving too much away, my junior year I was in both Choir Opera and Concert Choir and of the two it was Concert Choir I liked the best. Mr. Smith and Concert Choir were the best things about my high school experience. So sadly this "no letter" fiasco was necessary for me to be in the choir I was meant to be in. It really was one of the worst days of my high school life. It is only in hindsight that I see the Hand Of God and that, because I had ranked Cho-Op higher, I needed this drama to get me into the right chorus. Thank you, Lord!

Okay, I think that's all for this week. Check out more sophomore tales at Mommy's Piggy Tales and tune in next week for junior year. Thanks for reading!


Jenny said...

Funny - I think I always wished I could be an actress...but that notion is ridiculous because I can't act, either. And I don't really like people staring at me. I remember wanting SO BADLY to get a solo in elementary, and I felt bad I never got picked...but then when it was time to sing solos for a grade - I couldn't do it!

Great that you found something you enjoyed so much. I loved Choir, too. (But we had a small school and didn't have to try out or anything.)

SpitFire said...

Yay for the love of music! I always wanted to learn dance, but it wasn't really in the budget. Now I think it would be fun to find a Mommy & me dance class to take my daughter to.