So, last night, my husband and I had a 'night out at the theatre' - i.e. Aladdin by Key Stage 2 (why have we dropped Infants & Juniors?) It was excellent: truly, I have to say that. It went without a hitch and to manage to organise about 150 children to be on and off stage at the right times is an amazing feat. Someone had painted a beautiful backdrop, the costumes were fantastic and I could hear every word.
It was a musical and I have to admire all the children who took major parts and sang solos. It is terrifying to stand in front of parents anyway - to do that and sing is marvellous. And no-one bottled out. And some of the notes were very high. But .... (and you knew a but was coming!) some of it was remarkably out of tune.
Now, I cannot criticise the children at all: they were doing really well. But it did set me to wondering whether or not I could sing at that age. Even my tone-deaf husband questioned the singing, and what his abilities were at that age.
My school had a choir. We were trained in classic choir songs, singing descants for the carol service and in harmonious parts. The spring term brought 'The Opera': a musical for the choir to perform. There were some solo parts and some spoken parts but the majority was choral. We did Joseph one year, Treasure Island another, I recall watching The Mikado once. I think we could sing. I know that in my final year at school we won a county choir competition and that later my sister's year recorded an album and were on the local news. So I suspect our choir was good, that we could sing.
I glimpsed the end of X-factor when Jedward were knocked out. I was fascinated by Danii's question: Is this a singing competition? Can any of these wannabe stars sing? I hear wobbles and moments of being out of tune. Is that nerves, or part of our current obsession with pushing for fame and stardom without having the correct training in place? Singing is a physical activity that requires controlled breathing and depth of voice comes from the correct use of one's diaphragm. Without this, untold damage to vocal chords can occur, which sadly will only become apparent at an older age.
I am no expert and strongly believe that singing adds so much to life: expressions of emotion, release of stress and outpourings of joy. So I am delighted that my children's school has a choir and the confidence to present a musical, but I just hope that their training will develop strength and depth rather than just enjoyment. And tunefulness...
And - for tonight - I hope that one particularly excitable Robin will remember all her words and actions. (See - extraordinarily proud mother comes first!)