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Today You Are Here: Auditions

They filed on to the bus in the still-dark morning. Water bottles and tea thermoses and blankets for the ride on cold leather seats. We watched the sun rise as we drove across the mountain, some dozing, some reviewing lyrics, others trying to remember what a major sixth sounded like. The nerves were running high when we arrived at the college, the kids slipping out of sweats and into concert dress.


This is the fifth year I’ve come along high school juniors and seniors on the audition process for All State choir. Every fall my life is filled with interval drills, sight reading exercises, harmonic minor scales and constantly running art songs. It’s a big deal if you’re a choir kid. It’s a big deal if you’re a choir teacher. It’s a big deal if you’re a choir teacher’s wife.

Every year I see these kids give their best effort to getting into all state. These brave kids, scared sick that they’ll forget the words to their song or sing a diminished triad instead of an augmented one, putting their heart on the line, hoping against hope that they will be one of the few that get in. Every year I play the accompaniment to their solos over and over again as I watch their tenacious spirit’s give it all they have.

They know the reality. They know a tiny percentage of singers are chosen. Among the dozens of voices I’ve played for, only two have gotten in. These kids know that, they know the answer is probably going to be no. Some of them heard that no last year.

And yet, there they are. Waiting at the door of their audition room, bouncing up and down with nervous energy. And as I stand there with them, piano music in hand, I feel a little of that ferocious tenacity run over my complacent soul.

My husband calls it failing harder. It’s his catchphrase for urging the students to put it all out there. To try their very best, withholding nothing. No matter how insecure you feel, no matter how nervous you are, whether or not you think you’ll succeed. Fail harder.

We’re back on the bus now. Celebratory milkshakes and slushes in hand because they all pushed beyond the nerves and the jitters and the “what if I mess up” and “I feel like everyone else is better” and they stood in front of a judge and they sang.

I get excited for these kids’ futures. Not because they’re necessarily going to get into All State choir. They might and that would be an awesome musical experience. But the real reason I’m excited for them is because they know how to be brave. And bravery is a precious commodity in this big, scary world.



{This is a part of my Today You Are Here series. Join me over here for the 31 days of October as we practice being present together. Or enter your email address below to have updates sent directly to your inbox!}

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