Sunday, March 20, 2011

Erin's Fine Arts Competition

Every year, the school our children attend is involved in a New England
regional Fine Arts Competition for the Christian schools in the New England region. Our children have always participated, and this year was no exception. The difference was that only our youngest, Erin, competed this year because our others have all graduated. Erin chose to do a dramatic speech, academic testing in math and English, a ladies' ensemble with five other girls, a vocal solo, and her choir also competed. This was the third year Erin was in the choir and ladies' ensemble, the second year for dramatic speech, her first year for academic testing, and her first year for vocal solo. She has done humorous speeches in previous years, but last year she decided to try the dramatic speech. She loves acting! She has always placed at the state level for her speeches, doing better each year, but she had never placed at the regional level. The ladies' ensemble has placed for the past three years. When Erin was in eighth grade, Caroline and Janet sang in the ladies ensemble, and Erin joined as a freshman, after Caroline graduated. I was a little apprehensive about Erin's vocal solo, as she has never taken lessons, but I told her that if she was willing to work with me, I would help her. We also had a friend of ours play the piano for her once she learned the song, so that Erin could hear the accompaniment and get used to singing with the piano. Another friend listened in to one of her practices and gave her some pointers as well. I worked with her on learning her pieces and on her vocal technique as much as I could,usually once a week, and more often as we approached the actual competition. I also had her listen to her songs over and over online, and discussed the meanings of the songs with her. She showed me the transcript of her speech, and we discussed the emotions she would need to portray in it, but she would not go through the speech with me. She did that on her own and then with two of her sisters who took a speech class in high school and who also have acting experience.
The week before the competition, Erin came down with a nasty cold which also gave her laryngitis. She missed three days of school, and one of her teachers suggested that she drop her vocal solo. Erin was determined to compete in all of her categories, though. She returned to school the Monday before the competition and practiced her solos, her ensemble, her speech, and her choir pieces. By the day of competition she was healthy and her voice was back to full strength. She sang her solos first and did very well. Her speech was ten minutes after she finished her solos. I was glad she hadn't had to to her speech first, as the intensity of the piece she chose would have tired her voice and made it difficult to sing. Her speech was a prequel to the "Phantom of the Opera", portraying Erick (the Phantom) as a little boy. It was very powerful and Erin gave it everything she had!
She left the audience speechless and in tears. I thought, "Lord, whether or not she places, she just nailed that speech!" We watched other students from Erin's school, including her best friend, who did a humorous speech. Then we watched the small vocal ensemble, and they sang very well. They had won the regional for the past three years, so we hoped they would again. We then listened to the other female vocalist from Erin's school. She is an amazing singer and we loved hearing her. After lunch, we listened to the choir and some choirs from other schools. Then it was time for the spelling bee, followed by the regional awards ceremony. I hoped Erin would place in both her speech and her solo, but one never knows. I prayed that she would at least place in Connecticut for her vocal solo, and that her speech would place first in Connecticut so she could take it to Nationals. They announced the speech category right after the academic testing categories. The first speech category they announced was Dramatic Interpretation..... Erin's category. Third place.... not Erin. Second place.... not Erin. At this point I prayed that she would still get first in Connecticut. Then I heard the name of the first place winner for the New England Region....... Erin Aldrich!!! She was crying as she went up onstage to get her award, and so was I. I gave her a hug just before she sat down. Her best friend placed third in New England for her humorous interpretation. The other female vocalist from Erin's school won first in New England. Erin placed third in New England for her vocal solos. Not bad for a girl who was sick the week before and who does not take formal voice lessons! And she was a week shy of sixteen years old! The ensemble and choir both placed first in New England as well. Erin and her friend both placed first in Connecticut for their speeches, and Erin placed second for her vocal solos, with her classmate placing first. Erin also got a third place in Connecticut for academic testing in math. Their ensemble and choir also placed first in Connecticut. We were very proud of Erin, and very thankful that the Lord helped her! She and some of her classmates will be competing at Nationals in a couple of weeks. I'm hoping we can go to see her perform, with stops in Pennsylvania to see Dave, Becca, and Noelle on the way down and back!

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