Yesterday I had a flashback to my fifth-grade talent show. Why now, I don’t know, but I had been thinking about singing, and that talent show was very nearly the end of my singing career. It actually should have been, but oh well. So, here’s the story of my silent singing life from the fifth grade (with one exception) on.
I had been learning to play the piano. This was because my mom played the piano and she wanted a piano and her excuse to get one was that I should learn to play. So instead of being outside playing with all the neighbor kids, I was stuck inside practicing scales. It was all right, really, but not always. So anyway, our fifth grade class was throwing a talent show, and I decided to play and sing April Showers. I practiced and practiced and as the show neared, I was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.
But then. As I was belting out the song accompanied by my heavy-fingered piano playing, my mom came in the room and sat down on the bench beside me. She put her arm around my shoulders, leaned in close and said, “it might be better if you just played the piano and did not sing”. Well. I was absolutely devastated. Not sing? Was she trying to tell me I was a terrible singer? Yes, it turned out, she was. (Much later, I did realize how very difficult it must have been for mom to say this to me. She cared so much she broke our hearts. Such love.) I cried. I yelled, “no, I want to sing!”. But deep down, I must have known she was right. At the show, I played April Showers on the piano, but did not sing. Life went on. No singing heard from me at all.
Then. Fast forward to my freshman year of college (at a university across the state from my home). Two friends and I heard about a talent contest. One of us played the guitar. The other two of us were singers (OK, I lied to them). This was during the Kingston Trio era. So, we practiced our song–Maria (the one about the wind). The big night came for auditions. Our guitarist did well. No other comment is required.
That, then, was it. No further attempts to sing, not even in the shower. But, not so long ago, I sang Maria to my sister. She is still hurting. Three strikes. Even the cat ran away to hide. Mom was right all along. Of course.