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  1. Auditions - The Answer My Friends Is....

    Sunday, September 2, 2012


    By Samantha DeRose

    It was Spring of 1980.  We weren’t sure who shot J. R., I hadn’t solved the Rubik’s Cube (aside from peeling off each squared sticker and crookedly re-affixing them back in order), and The Empire was Striking Back! 

    All I knew at the time was that the 6th grade talent show try-outs were rapidly approaching and I was gonna bring the house down.  If Sissy Spacek could be The Coal Miner’s Daughter with her guitar,  so could I.  After all, I had a guitar and a few years worth of lessons (sans practice) under my belt.  I had this.

    What to play, what to play.  Escape (If You like Pina Colada) was THE SONG!  I’ll do that.  Nope.  Too hard.  Like 10 chord changes or something.  Stairway to Heaven!  Um probably not.  That involved finger picking and practice.  Nope.  Another One Bites the Dust.   Required too much bass. Nope.   Have to Believe We are Magic?  What the f--k is a D Seventh Flat Fifth Chord?  Jesus.

    And all of a sudden, it dawned on me!  A song with 3 easy chord changes A-D-E, no finger picking, no seventh flat fifth chords.  The song I had been playing since 3rd grade.  Blowin’ in the Wind.  Of course.  That was the answer, my friends.  The answer was Blowin’ in the Wind.  So what if the strumming pattern, down/down/up/up/down/up was something I hadn’t completely mastered.  This was the easy chord song.

    My mother was thrilled!  “Oh!  You’re singing Blowin’ in the Wind?  How wonderful!”

    Sing?  Nobody said anything about singing.  I can sing.  I can play.  But not at the SAME TIME.  I’m not that coordinated to do BOTH.  

    Firm voice, “No.  I’m just going to play the chords.”

    Perplexed voice, “Oh?  Well how will anyone know what you’re playing?”

    Indignant voice, “What do you mean?  I can tell it’s Blowin’ in the Wind!”

    Patronizing voice, “You’re right dear.  Have fun.”

    Why she didn’t stop me there is beyond me.  You see, this was a time in history before everyone got a trophy just for showing up.  Tryouts meant you were really trying out.  If your audition sucked, you didn’t go on stage.  End of story.

    The audition came.  The judge was the meanest teacher in the whole school, Mrs. Braun.  She looked like a Berenstain Bear with fire red hair.  

    Janet M., child television commercial actress, got on stage and played a recognizable piano concerto.  Talent Show Material.  Suzanne played the guitar while Jackie sang Take Me Home Country Road.  Talent Show Material. 

    I was next.
    I hoisted my guitar on stage. 
    I started.  
    “A” chord.  
    Strumming pattern down/down/up/up/down/up
    ... hesitation 
    “D” chord. 
    Up/down 
    ...“Wait a minute” 
    down/down/up/up/down/up
    ... got it.  
    “A” chord
    ... down/down/down 
    “Hang on”
     up/up/down/up... 
    “E” chord.

    Whew.  Made it through the song.  Wasn’t that bad.  Done.  Smile on my face.

    Mrs. Braun then said, “Well, aren’tcha gonna sing er somethin’?” (I’m not Southern.  I don’t know why I’m typing in a Southern accent.  That’s just the way I remember it).

    I said, “Um, no.”

    “Well ya gotta sing.  We can’t tell what it is.  Maybe you could find someone to play the melody or sing or why don’t  you learn to sing it.  But you can’t just go on like that.”

    I hated Mrs. Braun that day.  I didn’t perform in the talent show.  But in hindsight, I’m grateful for her.  It was a tough, but necessary lesson that I think we lose sight of in a world where kids (and adults) are told that they are winners just for being present.

    That’s not the case.  Whether you’ve been passed at a comedy club or permitted to perform in the talent show, getting there requires time, effort, hard work, and practice, practice, practice.

    I haven’t auditioned for a club yet because I know in my heart that I need more practice.  I’ve been at this game for a little under 3 years and I’m still fine-tuning my comedic voice, that proverbial strumming pattern, so that my transitions are smooth, my stories and jokes flow, and I make sense to the audience. 

    And this time I’m practicing.

    Thanks, Mrs. Braun.
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  2. 2 comments:

    1. Rhonda said...

      Practice makes perfect...sense!

    2. Samantha, I so enjoyed reading that. I was with ya through all the up up down up change chord. Don't blame your mom. She knew when to back off and let you learn. :-)

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