The traumas of my public performances

I survived the trumpet exam (oh, and so did Aidan - but this blog isn't really about him after all!) - I had very shaky hands when I was playing the piano which was frustrating.  I had practiced.  So I probably ended up playing about every 3rd note.

One of my most humiliating memories of being a teenager is related to me playing the piano in public, so this is a loaded topic for me.  And, since it's one of my most humiliating moments, why I don't just go ahead and share the story with you all in public cyberspace land?!!

When I was 13, in Year 8, I had to play the piano at the school's morning assembly.  There was a roster for all the piano students over a certain grade, and we took a turn about twice a year to accompany on the piano for the daily hymn we sang at assembly.

Of course, I had practiced and hymns aren't exactly technically difficult so in theory I should have been totally fine.  However, I got super nervous.  And this led to my legs starting to shake followed closely by my hands.  The result was an accompaniment that started to slow down dramatically as the verses to the hymn went by.  By the second last verse, the very British headmaster announced, "Well, we might leave it there for today - we seem to be having some problems with the piano this morning."

While I was very relieved that the agony was over, I was so humiliated.  I'm probably the only one who really cared.  Somehow I managed to never have to do it again.  Not sure how I managed to get out of it because I continued to play the piano.  Perhaps my name was quietly removed from the roster!

Disappointing to discover on Saturday that I still get so nervous playing in public, even though I felt quite relaxed beforehand.  Oh well - thankfully the examination wasn't for me and my son played beautifully (and I can brag since he won't blow his own trumpet - oh, I know, just too funny ...).


Peter Sholl said…
Jenny - you've reminded me of my 6th grade piano exam.

I lived in the country, so the examiner used to come up for a couple of days and do all the kids in town. This time, he happened to be staying with my teacher. The night before the exam I went to my teacher's house for one final run through. As I was playing, the examiner came in and listened. After a couple of minutes he stopped me and said 'I'd give up now if I was you' - and walked out! Nice!

I failed the exam the next day, and didn't do any more! (but really enjoy playing now)
Karen said…
Well done Aidan!
And well done Jen for surviving. If it's any consolation, I don't remember you playing at the assembly (and so no one else would be likely to either.) But I can imagine Mr Ingleby doing that to you! How awful!
Alison M said…
Go Aidan!

I totally know what you mean. I played the flute through school and I was fine in an ensemble but exams were awful. I trembled so much I couldn't breathe properly.

I never failed an exam, but once an examiner left a comment in my results: "you sound like a nanny goat".
That was the last exam I took!
Jon and Deborah said…
You just brought back one of my nightmare teenager experiences - playing the hymn in assembly with about 5 minutes notice - aagh!!
Megan Lindsay said…
Hi Jenny,
Just had to add a comment (love your blog by the way)...I SO remember the dreaded hymns! I could only ever play 2 - which just about got me through 5 years of assembly. Mr Jefferys wanted to know why I didn't learn new ones. Too hard! Like Karen, I can't remember your playing, but can believe it happened.
Jenny said…
Funny to think that others out there were traumatised by playing at assembly too!
Aileen said…
Yes I used the play the right hand for hymns for school chapel. The girl that played the left hand went on to be a jazz singer in New York and is married to Brendan Julian the cricketer.
Heather said…
The hymn playing roster at my school left me only with the enduring memory that "Jesus hands were kind hands" is the shortest hymn in the Australian Hymn Book. It can be played extremely swiftly and tends to leave everyone with the giggles.

Popular posts from this blog


Going grey at 40

So you have "Kondoed" your house. What next?