Alternate Title: The Audition.
When my daughter Bailey was a little kid, we loved singing together. We did it all the time around the house and outside in the yard, sometimes making up songs and sometimes giving our renditions of Bailey‘s current Disney favorites. After dinner, her sister Ally would join in, giving homemade musical theater performances to my wife and I in the living room.
Bailey was born to sing and does it professionally now that she is in her mid-20s. But back when she was five years old, she auditioned for the role of orphan in a local theater production of Annie.
It was a professional theater and I was the trumpet player in the orchestra for most of the shows. I knew most of the directors and staff. I heard they were looking for some kids to be in the show, and were especially looking for a few 5 or 6 year olds who could act as the youngest orphans. “This is Bailey’s wheelhouse.”, I thought.
So I explained to her what things would be like in the production and asked her if she wanted to do it. Of course she did. I also explained what an audition is like and that in order to be in the show, she would have to go through one. We also talked about how she might not get picked and might end up not being in the show at all.
She didn’t care. I think she just liked the idea of singing for people, whether it was a handful of people in an audition room or a full couch in the living room.
So we practiced. Parents were allowed to assist and perform with younger children at the audition, and there was no specific song required, so we decided to do “I Don’t Need Anything But You“ from the Annie musical. We knew this song well and nailed the duet many times in the house, so getting ready for the audition was easy.
On audition day, we took the elevator to the fourth floor of the theater. When the doors opened, the scene was as chaotic. Loud kids and parents were everywhere talking excitedly, practically yelling at each other. Bailey didn’t seem to care for that very much. We huddled in a corner and waited.
When the time came for Bailey to audition, we went in together and took our positions in front of the panel of about half a dozen directors and coaches. We had some choreography prepared too (Bailey loved to dance!). When the music started, I sang my first line and turned to Bailey to cue hers.
She was staring at the floor.
“That’s ok”, one of the directors said. “Just start again whenever you’re ready.”
But our second attempt went the same as the first.
So did the next one.
For the next several minutes, Bailey just stared at the floor as I danced around the room singing my parts; eternally trying to coax Bailey into showing the panel what she could do.
It didn’t happen. For some reason, she just did not want to do it that day.
After my embarrassing, surprisingly solo performance in front of my coworkers and bosses, I said thank you and we walked out.
As soon as the door closed behind us, Bailey was completely back to normal; happy, singing, and bouncing around like Winnie the Pooh’s friend Tigger.
She was over it, but I wasn’t. Was it my fault? Did I push her into doing something she didn’t want to do without realizing it? Was it just one of those things happens sometimes when you’re five years old? I’ll never know.
In the years since that incident, Bailey has grown up to become a professional singer and voice teacher. She’s excellent at both and I’m very proud of her. If you’d like to hear what she’s up to, check out the videos below and sign up for her mailing list.
Or, if you like classical singing, check out this clip from her college senior recital.
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to tell this story or if there’s any sort of lesson to be gained from it. Maybe it’s just the fact that life, and especially parenting, is full of surprises.