Last summer, I began working with Erin on pieces for her Fine Arts competition in March of 2012. She had to have me teach her the pieces, and of course I gave her instruction in vocal technique as well. In order to ensure that she had the pieces memorized well before competition, we began early. I also need to be careful that we do not put too much strain on her young voice. We made a trip to the University of Hartford bookstore, where we looked at music and settled on pieces. We decided on "I Will Sing New Songs of Gladness" from Biblical Songs by Antonin Dvorak, and "Vedrai, Carino" from Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. When Erin had learned the pieces, she began working with her accompanist at school, who would be playing for the Fine Arts competition. While Erin was working on the pieces, the music director at school got a flyer from the Musical Club of Hartford, announcing a scholarship competition. The director handed Erin the flyer and said, "Here, Erin, I thought you could do your competition pieces for this." Erin agreed, so we began working on the music in earnest. I figured that it would be good preparation for the Fine Arts competition and a good experience for Erin. I knew she had talent and that she had a beautiful voice, but I also knew that many of the other students would have far more training and experience than she had. I talked to Erin about this and she understood. She was accepted to the competition and her accompanist agreed to play for her. I went to one pf her practice sessions to show the accompanist the tempos we had taken, and where she needed to slow down or speed up. Everything was going well until the week before the competition, when Erin came down with a cold! We prayed, gave her medicine, and lots of fluids. By the next week she was better and had her voice at full strength. We left church few minutes early the day of the competition, and arrived at Hartt a few minutes before she was scheduled to arrive. She registered and was given a warm up room. I sat in on her warm up so that I could take her through some vocal exercises before she practiced her pieces. Her pieces sounded great in her warm up, and I knew that she would perform well. I could not be in the room for the actual audition, but I could hear her and she sounded good. One of the coordinators asked me if Erin was my daughter, and I said yes. She answered,"Lovely!", so I knew that Erin had sung well, but how she would stack up against the other students in the vocal category I did not know.
The coordinators told us that they would be calling the winners and the honorable mention winners by 5:00 that afternoon. When we got home, Erin and I began taking down the Christmas tree and putting away ornaments. She kept her cellphone on her and turned on the whole time. At 3:00, Erin looked at me and said, "Mom, I don't think they're going to call me." I said, "Well, we knew that going in, but you sang well and I'm proud of you." She said she didn't need a pep talk, and I knew that, but I wanted to encourage her somehow. Then I looked at the clock, and said, "Erin! It's only three o'clock. The last audition was at two. I don't think they're finished tallying the scores yet." She agreed, and we went on putting ornaments away. Not ten minutes later, the phone rang. I said, "That's probably them," and when I heard the voice on the other end say, "Erin?" I knew it was not someone who knew her. We were expecting to hear that she had gotten third place or honorable mention, but then I heard Erin say, "Really?" so I knew she had placed. Then I heard her say, "First place?" and saw her grin and put her fists up in the air, and I was so thrilled that I yelled at the top of my lungs! She won a five hundred dollar scholarship! At the end of January the winners performed in a concert in West Hartford, so we all went to hear Erin sing. She did beautifully, and we were so proud of her. There was a little bio of each winner in the concert program as well as in the Hartford Courant article about the concert. She went on to place first in Female Vocal Solo at the AACS Fine Arts Competition at school as well. I am so thankful to be able to take something I enjoy so much and impart it to my daughters. I have always believed that if I were faithful to use the gifts God has given me to help my children, that God would supply whatever was lacking, and I am seeing Him do just that.