Tag Archives: singing

Gang Show 2018

The Family Taxi is getting quite accustomed to chauffeuring our budding performers to rehearsals and performances. However, just because there was “another one”, that doesn’t lessen our excitement and enthusiasm, even if the petrol tank was getting thirsty.

After seeing our daughter place in a local dance competition through the week, last night we saw both kids perform in the Scouts & Guides: Central Coast Gang Show. Quite aside from being the proud parents and laughing at our son’s crazy assortment of pants and costumes including an orange sheet for a Flintstones’ scene, we had such so much fun. The theatre was intimate, and we were only three rows back from the stage. While we weren’t quite singing out load, I was definitely singing-a-long  in my head to the likes of Inspector Gadget, Flash Gordon theme, Pokemon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Scooby Doo. Indeed, with all those great songs, I’m surprised I wasn’t dancing in the aisle. You see, I can be the ultimate in embarrassing mums. The highlight for my son came, when he played the third NASA Astronaut, Michael Collins, in a skit.

 

While you might think of knots and camping when it comes to Scouts and Guides, the Gang Show has been around since 1931 when Ralph Reader, a Rover Scout trying to make his mark in theatre in the USA and London, was asked to write a Scout-based variety show to raise money for a swimming pool for the Downe Scout Camp (now a Scout Association National Activity Centre). Rehearsals began under Reader’s direction on 25 May 1932. Initially the show did not have a title, but during a rehearsal break, he asked a cast member if everyone was ready, and the response was “Aye, aye Skip, the gang’s all here”. The first production, The Gang’s All Here, ran between 30 October and 1 November 1932 at the Scala Theatre in central London.[1]The show was not a sell-out, but enough was raised to fund the swimming pool and the show was well received. Baden-Powell, the founder of scouting, persuaded Reader to produce another show in 1933. This was The Gang Comes Back and ran for a week.Reader continued to write and produce the London Gang Show. In 1934 the show became The Gang Show and Crest of a Wave was performed for the first time, becoming over the years the anthem. In 1937 the London show became the first amateur production to have a Royal Command Performance (an honour repeated in 1957 and 1964). A feature film called The Gang Show, starring Ralph Reader and The Gang, premièred at the Lyceum Theatre, London in April the same year, and in New York in December 1938. Now, it appears right around the world- Gang Show Wikipaedia The Central Coast Gang Show has been running for 32 years.

What I love about the Gang Show, is that it gets a whole load of young people up on stage, who might never have considered getting involved in the performing arts. These kids are singing, dancing and committed to six months of pretty solid rehearsals. That’s not a mild-mannered undertaking. These are young people who are learning to express themselves in meaningful, productive ways and are building up essential qualities like perseverance, having a go and being part of a team. I also believe the stage shouldn’t be confined to the likes of Nicole Kidman and Hugh Jackman. We also need that amateur layer as well. Not as a charity case with positions occupied for those who couldn’t make it. Rather, because it offers us something else. A form of entertainment which isn’t Hollywood and that hopefully reflects, at least in some way, out local culture.

So, after all the excitement of watching my kids and all the rest dancing and singing under lights and going through a plethora of costume changes, the curtain fell and the Gang Show was over for another year. I have to admit there was a bit of disappointment. That sense of loss once the show is over. It was a great night.

Have you ever attended a Gang Show performance? Or, even been in one yourself? Where and when was it? What did it mean to you? I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments.

Best wishes,

Rowena

 

 

Bless Our Little Violinist!

Today, I received an urgent SOS. No! NOT an SMS, but a real SOS. It read: “Mummy, I have a week to learn Fur Elise (her choice) on her violin for an audition. Please book me in for as many lessons as you can!!!!!”

If there is one thing I have learned from my kids, it’s to expect the unexpected. That as much as I try to be the conductor and orchestrate the piece, the players are busy composing their own thing and improvising instead. Obviously, there are no guarantees that it’s going to be a harmonious mix when it all comes together either. Much more likely, that the sounds will be wondering randomly all over the place like lost sheep. However, all is not lost. With three sheep dogs under one roof, hopefully they can retrieve the notes and bring it all back together. By now, I guess you’ve realized that we’re not traveling systematically in a straight line. Rather, our paths are more like a spider’s web AND for better or worse, I think that makes me the fly.

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The spark for my latest philosophical rant, was my daughter. An audition has cropped up, and this musical calls for a singer and musician. That is, someone who can play an instrument. For my daughter, this posed no problem because she plays the violin. The only trouble is, that she hasn’t touched her violin in just over 12 months. Indeed, she hung up her bow after performing at the Sydney Opera House with her school. In case you haven’t had a love affair with the violin, it doesn’t appreciate neglect and has been known to screech and complain in very unpleasant, ear-piercing tones when it’s player returns.  At least, that’s how it’s been for me!

The road to this audition hasn’t been easy. Miss was away at a school camp this week where, by the way, she lost her voice. Moreover, she had no time to learn her lines, resurrect her violin or prepare herself and then, we received a note from the dance school saying we were recording her audition this morning. Naturally, she wanted to pull out, but she’d made a commitment and getting audition practice is the name of the game at the moment. So, off she went… the violin case still covered in dust. It hasn’t been unopened in over twelve months!

I still remember what it was like be a kid and leap before you look, not really knowing what you ought to know before you dive in. Back when I was eleven, I filled out a form for a pen pal and ticked that I could speak German. After all, I could count to ten and also knew “Ja” and “Nein”. Of course, I was rather surprised when I received letters in German from three German pen pals. Then, there was the time I auditioned for the Bennelong Programme at the Sydney Opera House. I remember my friends and I filling out the forms and I ticked that I could play the flute, even though I hadn’t touched it in at least 4 years. I got into the programme but was ultimately so intimidated by the level of talent, that I left. I am clearly much better at creative writing.

Anyway, my daughter’s been given another week’s grace before she needs to do her recording. So, the voice has been ordered to rest, and the violin has been ordered to play. I must admit that I’m quite excited about this and I have loved playing with Miss in the past. Yet, at the same time, I know we have a mountain to climb. She not only needs to sound like a decent violinist, she has to look like one and that is almost as difficult. She has chosen to play Fur Elise, which you don’t usually hear on violin, but I’d chased down the music with my teacher. My mum has taught Miss to play it on the piano and Mum tells me that my grandfather used to whistle the opening bars. I can also play it on the piano myself…right through. It’s a sentimental fave.

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Just as well I’m not a ruthless organizer. It wasn’t that long ago, that I had a good look at my daughter’s violin and wondered whether it was time to go. With a cupboard full of violins and three hungry dogs, I’m planning to sell the smaller violins and was wondering whether to add her ¾ violin to the pile. After all, how long do you wait to find out whether a dream’s merely asleep or if it’s dead? Even if it’s simply taken a different path and been reborn as something else, the violin was surplus to requirements. However, I couldn’t be sure and wasn’t ready to put that final nail in the coffin.

You see, I still remember once upon a time…

Back then, Miss was six going on seven with  bobbed, dark hair, a fringe. She was my little sparrow. She’d fallen in love with the violin and despite my efforts to steer her into learning the piano, she insisted. At first, she played and played and played, but after the holidays, the stupid thing started screeching and it was all too much. She stopped playing, but I kept going. Despite all her protests, I knew there was a magic there. That the violin had touched her somewhere deep inside her soul and lit a spark. The sort of spark, which never goes out. Even if you can’t see a glimmer of light from the surface, the spark is still there just waiting to be rekindled.

While her love affair with the violin has been  dare I say “fickle”, I have been steadfast. A week after her very first lesson, I picked up my bow again and I haven’t put it down since. Indeed, through pneumonia, chemotherapy and the demands of parenting with a chronic illness, I have played on. Just like the violinists immortalized on the Titanic, I’m no quitter.

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Posing after our violin performance 2012. Lizotte’s is a rock n’ roll venue where the likes of Diesel have performed…and me! The music school hired the venue for our concert.

 

Yet, learning an instrument as a mature aged student isn’t easy. It’s actually a very physical thing and I’m not physical. I’ve had to work hard, persevere and accept the plod while those around me soar and a little upstart picks up Fur Elise after not touching her violin for more than a year, and plays it. Not perfect, but after 30 minutes, she plays it better than me.

As much as I’m delighted and relieved she can pick it up again like that, I’d have to be honest, and say there’s a fair degree of schadenfreude in there. It’s not easy when you’ve put in the hours and someone else clicks their fingers, and gets there at the speed of light. You want to complain to management. Register you’re angst with the man upstairs. After all, isn’t it meant to be the tortoise who wins the race…

Do you have any tales of going for auditions or preparing for concerts etc? I’d love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments.

xx Rowena

 

 

Driving from Sydney to Melbourne.

Tonight, I’m backpedaling faster than a confused Olympic sprinter, as I battle to catch up on our trip to Tasmania.

Although travelling opens your eyes, Internet connectivity can be difficult to outright impossible. We’re currently staying with friends out of town with limited access, making it difficult to keep up with the trip.

Anyway, last Sunday we drove down to Melbourne to catch the ferry to Tasmania. As the ferry was leaving at 9.00AM, we stayed in Melbourne overnight.

However, we haven’t reached Melbourne yet. We’re still driving along the Hume Highway. There’s a long way to go!

What with all the last minute pre-trip freaking out, I got to bed rather late the night before and slept through much of the trip. However, I opened my eyes occasionally…along with the camera lens.

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We were just North of Gundagai when we pulled up by this historic blue stone Church in Bookham.

Being just out of Gundagai, I launched into singing: Along the Road to Gundagai…a classic Australian bush song everybody used to know:

“There’s a track winding back,

Along an old-fashioned track,

Along the road to Gundagai…”

However, it turned out that neither of the kids had ever heard it.

Of course, I was absolutely flabbergasted, dumbstruck and shocked. What has the state of modern education coming to??? This was the cultural equivalent of being illiterate…and it was MY KIDS. I guess this is why they say going on a long family drive can be “educational”. You get to teach your kids a few things a long the way.

Anyway, at this point while I was ranting about the need for an Australian cultural festival, my husband interjected calling this great Australian classic: “cringe-worthy”.

The kids agreed.

Disgust. I was absolutely disgusted. Not even my husband was standing by me.

This made me think about the songs I grew up with singing in the car on long family drives to Queensland. My Dad loved singing in the car. He’d pipe up with: “Oh what a beautiful morning, Oh what a beautiful day”, from Oklahoma and there was Jamaican Farewell: “Down the way where the nights are gay…” By the way, my kids assure me Dad’s still singing: “We’re off to see the Wizard” in the car and that’s only been on short drives too.

Anyway, the kids survived my singing. I survive their jokes. Yet, we’d only reached Holbrook roughly halfway to Melbourne and there was too much road ahead.

By now, it was time for lunch.

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Taken in Holbrook’s Main Street

Holbrook’s main claim to fame is having a submarine parked in the local park. The main street is lined with old wares shops, which I must say is like honey to a bee. I almost broke out in a sweat. I didn’t know which way to turn until reality hit. With my husband and the two kids in tow, I wasn’t going far. They impose impossible limits on poor repressed addicts. Anyway, there were some second hand books as cheap as chips…almost guilt free!

All too soon, we were on the road again, continuing further along the endless Hume Highway, which flows like an artery through the East-Coast south of Sydney.

Eventually, we crossed the border into Victoria.

Yawn!

Yawn!

This trip was dragging on…”Are we there yet?”

More yawns.

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Thank goodness the Great Esky Wall worked a treat in the back seat. The kids were pretty good but I’ll also give credit where credit’s due…iPads!

Finally, we were heading through suburban Melbourne and an almighty shriek went up…tram tracks!

Worse still, we were driving on the tram tracks and had no idea what the rules were.

We were starting to feel endangered at best…not that we had a persecution complex or anything but who wants to get run over by a tram?!!

Nothing like driving through a strange city when you don’t know quite where you’re going and you have trams hunting you down.

Scary stuff.

Yet, we survived!

Melbourne…we made it.

Have you ever been to Melbourne? Do you have any songs you sing driving on long car trips? I’d love to hear them, although it might take awhile to reply.

xx Rowena

 

 

Sense-sational Schools Spectacular 2016.

If you are one of those people who experiences creative overdrive when all your senses get stimulated at the very same time, then perhaps you’d better stay away from Schools Spectacular. It’s the largest variety show in the world and included 5,710 performers, which also gives the show its other name: “Schools Specktacular” as most parents require the Hubble telescope or a telescope to spot their kid. You’ve just got to hope you can find them at the end.

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Our daughter heading in to perform.

Anyway as you’re well aware, I see through the lens of my SLR camera. It gives me much better vision than my glasses and not only that. It saves that vision for later and I can watch it again and again and again.

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Photo: Rowena Curtin

However, those “Spectacular Powers That Be” banned so-called “professional” cameras. So, for the first time EVER, my extra long lens worked against me. My poor camera was banished to the boot.

Down but not out, I took over Geoff’s “camera phone”. Desperate times called for desperate measures. I was back to being a mere mortal again. It felt like the photographic equivalent of riding a bicycle in a Formula One race. Although the phone might be good at taking selfies, that’s not what I was there for.

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The Dancers…Rowena Curtin.

However, all wasn’t lost. It turns out Geoff’s camera phone has a curiously abstract perspective, capturing some interesting effects.Well, it wasn’t just his camera phone because there was still a photographer’s eye hard at work. I thought I’d get some interesting effects with the dancing sea of arms and legs. I  just didn’t know  how they’d turn out.

I would also like to recommend reading my previous post about some of the disability access struggles I had at the venue… Qudos Bank Arena at Sydney’s Olympic Park. I didn’t write this for my own benefit. These issues need to be raised for the greater good. Here’s Accessing Schools Spectacular.

xx Rowena

Matilda The Musical: “if you’re little you can do a lot…”

“I think theatre should always aim to make its audience laugh and cry, unless there’s a really good reason why not. Stories are best when they are a bit like roller coasters, with highs and lows, twists and turns, a good bit of fear and the significant risk that someone might vomit. Matilda has all these things, making it the perfect story for a stage musical.”

-Tim Minchin, wrote the music & lyrics for Matilda The Musical.

Yesterday, my daughter and I finally went to see Matilda The Musical at Sydney’s Lyric Theatre, Darling Harbour. It is based on Roald Dahl’s Matilda while Dennis Kelly wrote the book for Matilda The Musical and Tim Minchin wrote the music and lyrics.

We absolutely LOVED IT!

Indeed, we loved it SO MUCH that we’ve bought the CD, musical score, the Matilda Doll, T shirts and even a T towel. It was absolutely sensational…clever, heart-breaking, funny, entertaining and then there were the special effects. They were a show in themselves, even including laser. Wow!

Anyway, while I’m waiting for the performance to start, Miss is absorbed in the set. The stage is framed by a kind of blackboard with Scrabble-like letters stuck haphazardly on it in a myriad of sizes and fonts. At first, they appeared quite random but Miss is sitting there picking out words, having great fun. That was an unexpected bonus and I guess that pretty much summed up Matilda. It was full of unexpected twists and turns along with spectacular effects, lighting. The whole package was so incredibly dynamic.

Of course, how you respond to any performance isn’t just about what is projected onto you but also about how it connects with your experience and who you are as a person.

What it means to you.

Naturally, I couldn’t watch Matilda without projecting her onto my daughter. Although she doesn’t have Matilda’s genius, she loves reading and is smart. However, the most pertinent similarity was their size. Miss is quite small for her age and Matilda is small in a world of sinister, ginormous adults.

Matilda… “if you’re little you can do a lot…”

You end up leaving Matilda feeling about 10 foot tall and that you could conquer the world…even if you’re still a little kid. It is so incredibly empowering. Don’t let bullies, size, horrible parents, your past…stand in the way of where you want to go and what is right. You can do it! Good can triumph over evil but you need to fight for it. Stand up! Matilda was a little girl standing up to beastly adults who wielded such power but she stood up to them.

“’Cause if you’re little you can do a lot

You mustn’t let a little thing

Like little stop you”…

“Naughty”, Matilda The Musical.

Our daughter is small and very petite. Only last Friday, she came home from school and told me she’d joined the school band and was taking up the Baritone Horn. I’ve never even seen a Baritone horn and I don’t really know how big it actually is but it looks big on Google. Being Mum, of course, I immediately wondered how she was going to lug this HUGE instrument to and from school on the train and how she’d find enough air to actually blow a note. I’m so glad her teacher set he sky as her limit and not her feet like her good old Mum. Naughty Mummy! It’s my job to encourage my kids, not to drop a slab of concrete on their heads, giving a myriad of reasons why they can’t do something when indeed they can.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve had to challenge my concept of my daughter.

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Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

There was also her insistence on auditioning for the role of Marta in the Sydney production of The Sound of Music, even though she had severe vocal nodules and had been banned from singing for a few months while she had voice therapy.

This girl might be small in stature but she certainly has enormous might.

So, Matilda the Musical was the perfect show for her and for me to really appreciate that just because she’s a child and just because she’s small, that doesn’t mean she can’t conquer the world. I’m just not sure she can take me with her!

Matilda the Book Lover

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Both being avid readers, my daughter and I both loved how Matilda glorified books and reading. Matilda literally devours books with such a passion and loves to learn, tell stories and stretch her brain beyond its very expansive limits. She is neither intimidated or ashamed of being a child genius but doesn’t show off about it either. She is quite grounded. Indeed, she stands her ground quite firmly knowing who and what she is while her parents constantly tear her down and ridicule her intelligence. Her father consistently says she’s a boy and despite correcting him, he persists, which is just about as bad as it gets as a parent yet her parents keep hitting rock bottom after rock bottom. Her mother, which her peroxide blond hair and lairy leggings, keeps telling her glamour and appearance is far more important for a girl than reading books.

On the other hand, there’s the librarian who loves listening to her stories and her teacher, Miss Honey who becomes a true kindred spirit.

Humour

Matilda the Musical wasn’t all about life lessons and moral tales.

It was entertainment, humour, spectacular effects. These were perhaps achieved through a degree of exaggeration, hyperbole and stretching the imagination to its logical conclusions, which turned even the most serious moments into very deep belly laughs.

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Miss Trunchbull

Even though she was incredibly cruel, undoubtedly evil and absolutely despicable, my favourite character was the School Principal, Miss Trunchbull, played by James Millar. Just the fact that you have a man playing a female character, gives you some idea of the absurdity of this character. Indeed, she could’ve stepped straight out of Monty Python, played by a much younger John Cleese. Of course, everybody detests somebody who is cruel to children. You’re instinctive response as a member of the audience, is to swing like Tarzan onto the stage and grab all those poor little children and whisk them away to safety while the evil Miss Trenchbull rots in jail for eternity. She shuts children in cupboards, force feeds a boy chocolate cake and calls children “maggots”. Moreover, the lighting and use of special laser effects, have you shaking in your seats. She is absolutely terrifying and everything you ever feared as a child and more.

Yet, somehow this evil character becomes funny. Indeed, hilarious!!! That is brilliant theatre!!

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Maggie Kirkpatrick as Joan “The Freak” Ferguson in Prisoner.

By the way, if you are Australian or somehow saw actress Maggie Kirkpatrick in the 80s TV Drama Prisoner, there’s an immediate likeness. My daughter disagrees.

Matilda’s parents also share this fusion of despicable evil and humour. They are so awful and tick every single box in the bad parenting book yet they’re somehow funny. Just when you think they couldn’t get any worse, they do. Of course, you appreciate all of their foibles through the eyes of Matilda who is so grounded, sensible and smart but has the lousiest parents imaginable.

I really loved the song “Telly”, which is sung by Matilda’s loser Dad:

All I know I learnt from telly

The bigger the telly, the

Smarter the man

You can tell from

My big telly

Just how clever

A fella I am!…

“Who the Dickens

Is Charles Dickens

Mary Shelley?

Cor, she sounds smelly.

Harry Potter?

What a rotter!

Jane Austen,

In the compost-in

James Joyce

Doesn’t sound noice!…”

Words and music: Tim Minchin.

The End

However, unfortunately, all too soon Matilda the Musical was over. Although I could write a book about the performance, it’s not the same as being there and now all we’re playing the CD over and over again like love sick puppies.

There’s also the matter of tackling that musical score and scratching something out on my violin.

Perhaps, that could be the beginning of Matilda…the Unmusical!

Wish me luck!

xx Rowena

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Enjoying divine Iced Chocolates at the Lindt Cafe, Darling Harbour.

 

 

The Rugged Road to School Spectacular…

Nothing makes my stomach churn more than yet another parent gushing about their progeny’s achievements. Indeed, this chunderous gushing of  superlatives has almost had me hospitalised in the past. Just call me Mr Creosote from Monty Python’s Meaning of Life. A bucket simply isn’t big enough! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aczPDGC3f8U

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Mandatory Credit: Photo by Moviestore Collection/Rex / Rex USA (935963a) Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life, Terry Jones, John Cleese Film and Television

However, just because someone is young and just happens to be my daughter, does that mean I should repress my pride and hide her under a proverbial bushel? Especially, when my pride has nothing to do with her singing ability but is more about her incredible tenacity and persistence in the face of formidable adversity?

Of course not!

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Miss Spectacular

After spending a few months under the medical microscope, Miss performed at School Spectacular last weekend, singing 30 songs as part of the 1,500 voice Combined Choir. It’s a privilege for anyone to appear at School Spec but after being diagnosed with severe vocal nodules on top of a rare digestive disorder, Miss was definitely overcoming the odds. Indeed, after undergoing months of voice therapy, it’s been a rather rugged road to School Spectacular!

Around April this year, Miss was diagnosed with having severe vocal nodules, which are basically blisters on your vocal chords. Her voice was very squeaky and she was missing letters in words and it difficult for her to talk, let alone sing. These nodules were caused by vocal abuse (ie screaming at her brother and less often mother) and stomach acid. The treatment involved intensive speech therapy and regular exercises and it probably won’t surprise you that routine isn’t our thing. We wanted that magic pill…the instant fix but without any alternative, we had to rise to the challenge.

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Miss in Hospital

At the same time we found out about the vocal nodules, Miss was also diagnosed with Delayed Gastric Emptying, a rare disease where her digestion is very slow and she doesn’t feel hungry. Consequently, she doesn’t eat. She also gets stomach aches, reflux and all sorts of symptoms from not eating. She has been seriously underweight and had real trouble staying alert. She was looking pretty sick for awhile there before we found some food replacement drinks, which had made quite a difference to her weight and equilibrium.  She’s also been prescribed an appetite stimulant. You can just imagine what her moods have been like when she’s not eating at all! It’s been a serious concern.

While these problems weren’t imminently life-threatening, she went through a battery of tests and even a hospital admission in a very short period of time. While she didn’t say it felt like the end of the world, you could see those thoughts written across her sullen face. What with having a chronically ill mother and knowing what I go through, she was no stranger to what living with a chronic illness entails. She knew that when it came to life’s game of Snakes and Ladders, she’d definitely landed on the snake and wasn’t happy!

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Snakes & Ladders…life’s ups and downs.

Fortunately, sometimes those ladders can equally be just around the next corner…

Of course, when I heard how bad her voice was, I was absolutely devastated. It was the vocal equivalent of being told your child is on the verge of spending their life in a wheelchair. Although it wasn’t going to kill her, for a kid who loves singing, drama and is thinking of becoming a teacher, this was serious stuff.

Of course, I knew it could be a  lot worse but pointing that out when she was devastated, doesn’t help. She needed hugs,  time and if she just stuck with her exercises, everything would be absolutely fine! Denial can be a wonderful thing!

Knowing how hard it is for anyone to stick with such exercises, her speech therapist dangled the School Spectacular carrot in front of my wide-eyed daughter. She even spoke to the teachers at school to develop an integrated, team approach. This was really inspired thinking because our Little Miss is extremely strong willed and that will doesn’t always comply with requirements.

Her voice was so bad that she was told that she needed to rest her voice. She wasn’t allowed to sing for at least 3 months and had to mouth the words at choir. Of course, this was like shutting a wild bird in a cage but she complied. I love singing myself so I know what that meant.

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Miss on Stage Performing Marta with her Musical Theatre Class.

That was until it came to auditioning for the role of Marta, the second-youngest Von Trapp child in the Sydney production of The Sound of Music. Miss does musical theatre and she came home from class with a web address to apply for auditions

As far as I was concerned, getting the role was the equivalent to flying to the moon. Of course, you superficially encourage their dreams but you don’t even need to look deep in your heart to know that this is a dream and not part of the real world. It’s your job as parent to encourage such dreams while gently bringing your child back down to earth safely without smashing into a thousand pieces. After all, we all know what happened to Humpty Dumpty!

Knowing how much the vocal nodules were affecting her voice, I knew she didn’t stand a chance and subtly tried to encourage her to audition for something next year. Next year when, of course, everything would be better and “just fine”.

Of course, she wouldn’t hear of it and burst into tears: “But Mummy! I’m the right height now and I’ll never be the right height ever again!”

As a parent, you come to appreciate when you’re beat. I filled out the application and attached a photo and pressed send. Meanwhile I developed a nasty bronchitis and was on standby to go to hospital when the email arrived. She had an audition.

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Practicing for her audition.

 

 

She didn’t receive a callback but she was stoked about the audition and a seed was definitely planted.

Swings and roundabouts, missing out on Sound of Music meant she could still do School Spec. Yes! Miss and her entourage were starting our way up the ladder again.

You can read about School Spectacular here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/12/01/introducing-school-spectacular/

Among the 30 songs our daughter sang with the Combined Choir, one had a particular resonance:

 “Climb every mountain,

Ford every stream,

Follow every rainbow,

‘Till you find your dream.”

Rodgers and Hammerstein, The Sound of Music.

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Sound of Music Tram near School Spectacular.

It almost brought tears to my eyes knowing just how far she’d come and what it meant to her not only to be able to sing in the shower again but to perform in School Spectacular. As she said:

“Last year, being in School Spec was my dream and it came true!”

Of course, achieving such dreams doesn’t happen single-handed and our choir had an impressive support crew headed by the choir teacher, exhausted parents and I’m also going to mention big brother who has been supporting his sister’s creative dreams without getting jealous and has simply encouraged her. Thanks to her friend’s family, Miss also enjoyed fabulous accommodation across the road and was spared a lot of travel. Geoff and I were also incredibly thankful for that. It was great to give the “taxi” a break.

I hope our daughter’s story might encourage you to overcome your hurdles and reach for the stars. That the seemingly impossible can become a reality and even exceed your expectations.

So, even though I’m risking joining the chunderous brgging parents collective, in so many ways our daughter’s journey to School Spectacular has made her a  hero:

Hero

There’s a hero
If you look inside your heart
You don’t have to be afraid
Of what you are
There’s an answer
If you reach into your soul
And the sorrow that you know
Will melt away…

And then a hero comes along
With the strength to carry on
And you cast your fears aside
And you know you can survive
So when you feel like hope is gone
Look inside you and be strong
And you’ll finally see the truth
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you
That a hero lies in you

Mariah Carey

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0IA3ZvCkRkQ

If you have written any encouraging posts about overcoming similar difficulties, please leave a link in the comments below.

xx Rowena

 

A Spectacular Performance -Weekend Coffee Share: November 29.

This week, you’re invited on a virtual cafe crawl as we catch the train from Woy Woy to Sydney. Have breakfast in Glebe then drive two hour’s North via the Sydney Harbour Bridge to the Hunter Valley and then back down to Parramatta in Western Sydney and back home again. I assure you with this grueling schedule, you will require every single coffee and no doubt a few nature stops along the way.

The last week has been truly incredible.

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Before we get onto my daughter’s performance at School Spectacular, I just wanted to touch on a bit of a shadow which hung over things last week.

You see, my daughter was concerned about being caught up in a terrorist attack while she was in Sydney. Of course, being a kid, she didn’t express her concerns so succinctly. She simply asked where she could buy herself her own armour after seeing Police with bullet-proof vests on TV. I had a chat with her about it all, advising her on a few things she could do if she was in an emergency, which I outlined in this post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/11/25/a-conversation-no-parent-should-have/

I have to admit that even though I knew the chances of her getting caught up in a terrorist attack were very unlikely, there was that remote possibility and there’s definitely that sense that trouble’s brewing at the moment but we don’t have that crystal ball.

Anyway, off she went and on Friday morning, I caught the train down to Sydney with our son and the rest of the local kids. It was only a four carriage train and it was packed, mostly with kids. As we were about to head over the Hawkesbury River Bridge, the lady next to me turns to me and says: “The guy next to me asked me to mind his bags while he went to the toilet but he hasn’t come back and he’s been awhile. I’ve got to get off. I can’t remember what he looked like. He might have been tanned but what does a terrorist look like anyway?”

Now, let me just put you right into my shoes. Here I am on a train packed with school kids including my son, my friends’ kids, friends of friends kids and the teachers who are like family to me and suddenly I’m in charge of potentially deadly situation. I’ve heard the announcement countless times while waiting on train platforms. If you see unattended luggage, please report it to station staff. This was exactly what they were talking about. At the same time, I looked at the large bag of Christmas presents, all beautifully wrapped in Christmas paper, wondering how they could possibly blow anyone up? How could Christmas presents ever be considered dangerous, even deadly? I noticed the intercom for the guard nearby and gave him 10 minutes to return. I was hoping that he’d been eating plenty of fibre and it wasn’t going to be a legitimate (but very extended) call of nature and I’d just caused pointless stress.

This was a lot to take onboard, especially after my chat with my daughter. I certainly didn’t expect to be thrown in the dead end like this. It was all supposed to be over-active imagination and now I’d somehow become embroiled in a plot, which was way too big for this little black duck.

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Illustrator Sarah Davis

Of course, the fact that I’d been to a three hour writing workshop with Australian Illustrator, Sarah Davies the day before, didn’t do much to appease my imagination. Suddenly, I’d become the reluctant hero but what if I made a mistake? It was a huge responsibility!!

Fortunately, the man returned and calm was restored. I could get back to reading my book. I was in the Quiet Carriage while the kids were in what could only be described as “the loud carriages”.

This was the second false alarm I’ve had recently. You might recall that the day before the Paris attacks, we had four Army Black Hawk helicopters flying just above the rooftops of our quiet beach-side town. They were circling around doing lap after lap after lap and while I wasn’t thinking about terrorists, having a very dangerous criminal on the loose wasn’t desirable either. But…that was also a false alarm.

However, we made it to Sydney rather uneventfully in the end and I was able to meet up with Miss before her grand performance.

 

Miss Spectacular

Miss Spectacular

Our daughter performed with her school choir at School Spectacular, an absolutely huge extravaganza held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre. They were part of a huge mass choir, a sea of white shirts made up of 1500 kids singing 30 songs and doing actions. They did 4 performances over two days and had a pretty intensive rehearsal schedule as well. I am surprised any of them were still upright by the end.

Finale- School Spectacular, Sydney Entertainment Centre.

Finale- School Spectacular, Sydney Entertainment Centre.

As we live in Greater Sydney and about 90 minutes away, Miss ended up staying across the road for almost a week with her friend’s grandmother. They were staying nearby 53 levels above the ground with the most incredible views of Sydney. She was so blessed and having her there made things so much easier for me with juggling transport.

Here I am enjoying the view from where Miss was staying.

Here I am enjoying the view from where Miss was staying.

While Miss was living the high life, I booked Geoff and I into the cheapest accommodation I could find which wasn’t above a pub. It wasn’t too bad but when we checked it out on Google Earth, we did notice some kind of Chinese massage parlor next door and Mum did warn me to make sure Geoff didn’t disappear during the night. The place had a pretty dodgy metal fire escape out the back and while comfortable,could well have been the sort of place a fugitive would hide out. Needless to say, there were no views from our hotel room. Indeed, I’m not even sure there was a window.

Hotel Carpark.

Hotel Carpark.

Saturday morning, we headed off to Glebe for breakfast. We had intended to have breakfast at Glebe Markets, where I used to hang out several lifetimes ago but we couldn’t find parking and after weaving out way through a series of dead end and one way streets, we found ourselves sitting at the first cafe we could find on St Johns Road and refueled with coffees, an almond croissant and omelette.

Rebel Red Shoes.

Rebel Red Shoes.

I should also point out that I was wearing really dodgy shoes and could barely walk. After breaking my foot last December, I’ve virtually spent the year in joggers but as we were going to my cousin’s wedding, I just couldn’t resist wearing my fave red shoes. They have wedge heels and being flat on the bottom, I can sort of walk in them but it’s definitely a case of “Ricketty Ro” and much of the time, I have to hold onto Geoff’s arm for dear life.

While I have nothing approaching a shoe fetish and wear sensible shoes almost all the time, sometimes I just want to step out there and feel a bit pretty, elegant, frivolous and NOT a matron or person living with  disability. Be myself. If you haven’t worked out the obvious by now. I am not a sensible person so why should I wear sensible shoes?

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Driving Across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

 

Moving right along, we’re having our next coffee in Kurri Kurri in the Hunter Valley. Kurri Kurri is a coal-mining town on the gateway into the Hunter Valley, one of Australia’s most famous wine-producing regions. Like many regional towns looking to put themselves on the tourist map, the town has rebadged itself as “The Town of Murals”. Fifty murals, each with a hidden kookaburra, have been painted around town: http://www.kurrikurri.com/kurri-kurri-murals-project/

More Coffee...Kurri Kurri Tourist Information Centre.

More Coffee…Kurri Kurri Tourist Information Centre.

After over compensating for Sydney traffic congestion, we arrived at Kurri Kurri 2 hours before the wedding. Needing another caffeine hit (make that a strong one, please!) we stopped off at the Visitor’s Information Centre for great coffee and Caramel Slice before driving our town checking out the murals.

Red Bus Mural, Kurri Kurri.

Red Bus Mural, Kurri Kurri.

Next stop, was my cousin’s wedding. This was so exciting that my trigger-happy camera finger went into overdrive and I’m surprised I haven’t developed some form of RSI. The wedding and reception were beautifully intimate and included personal wishes from the groom’s grandparents, which just added a certain magic.

We drove home last night and had my uncle to stay. Made him pancakes for breakfast and must’ve totally exhausted myself as I didn’t photograph his visit at all.

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Drove down to Sydney to pick up the kids and head off to the Muscular Dystrophy NSW Annual Christmas Party, which is so generously put on by the staff at the Commonwealth Bank in Parramatta. This is a real extravaganza and the kids loved playing on the slot car rack and enjoyed the arrival of Santa and their presents. I was particularly thrilled to meet up with other members…friends I’ve made at an Adventure Camp I’ve attended. This is my community.

Mister with Santa

Mister with Santa

Right now, I’m ready to hang up my red shoes. “There’s no place like home” and a deep sleep!

I hope you’ve enjoyed our coffee and I look forward to topping up the caffeine levels when I pop over your way.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share. Here’s the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=585846

Love & Best wishes,

Rowena

PS Bilbo and Lady have made an an appearance at the Weekly Pet Share November Round-up. It’s a great post! https://hopethehappyhugger.wordpress.com/2015/11/30/weekly-pet-share-november-round-up/

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