I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned here how much I love Christmas and Christmas music. I love, love, love it! I’m one of those who will start listening to Christmas music on Thanksgiving Day. Gets me into the festivities RIGHT NOW.
So, imagine my excitement when I was asked to sing a mini-concert of Christmas music to a large group of Kiwanis Club members in one of the swanky athletic clubs in the Seattle area. I had not done specifically Christmas music before, although I have been a soloist for years, but this was right up my alley. So, I got right on it.
I called my ex-roomy, who was an excellent pianist, and we met at her house to “rehearse”. we had a blast as we picked a set of songs and ran through them with glee — maybe once. After all, Christmas music — how hard could it be?! Easy as pie.
The day arrived, and I was so excited to share my gift of music with those in this grand assembly. As I sat up on the stage in front of this audience of several hundred people I felt confident, maybe even a bit smug. I was going to be singing the songs that I love the most and I was going to blow them AWAY!
How wrong I was! The second I got up to the microphone I knew there was something wrong. Something was rising up inside of my body that I had not ever felt to that extent before. And, my friend felt it, too. She started playing. Fast. Faster than we had practiced. And all of a sudden I realized….”I DON’T KNOW THE WORDS TO THIS SONG!”
But, I could do nothing about it. The intro had completed and it was my turn. My turn to sing. My turn to wow them. My turn to make a complete fool out of myself…
“Just hear those sleigh bells ringling, rijerjlelijlkngln-ing, too,
Come on it’s sdlkjf;oasdkf for a a;sldjfa;sodjf ;laskjfdl asf with you!
Outside the asodjfaslkdmf;l and oeoirj;oasiejr asff YOO HOO!
Come on it’sapsodfijaosdifja;soidf for a poajsdf;oajsdlkfja sdd with you!”
What had come over me and taken over my voice? What was taking over me that I couldn’t make stop?! I feel like Barney Fife. “What was that — what??” My mind is racing as quickly as my mouth is spewing out nonsense. “Wait! Those aren’t the words!” I am thinking to myself! But, I don’t know what they really were, and it only gets worse:
“There’s a birthday party apsodfjalmwe;lrjlj asdpofjasdofj Faaaaarm-er Gray,
It will fpeoajs;eljejfoijlsadpofiasd of a perrrrrr-fect day!
It will poasijdf;laskdjfl;asdkjf o o;tijasoito sf asotija;soti;oisdj
I looked at my incredulous audience. Many had their mouths open in disbelief. Others were adjusting their hearing aids. Many of the faces said to me, “I can’t believe I have to sit hear and listen to another 20 minutes of this!”
But, in my professional training I KNEW I had to keep going, to not quit, and to keep a smile on my face like I knew exactly what I was doing. And finally, the song was over.
It was not the end, however, as I had 5 more songs to perform. And the rest of them were not much better. It only got better when I got to “O Holy Night”, my closing number, which I actually DID know because it is my favorite Christmas song on the face of the earth.
My friend and I left that place holding on to each other necks both laughing and crying together as we walked out to our cars. Several weeks later, I called to ask when we might be receiving our checks in the mail. The agent replied, “Oh — that was a charity gig.”
Needless to say, I use this constantly as an example to my students to know their music 100% or they will end up like me. I hope they listen.