Fast forward 70 years. Every year Ella attends music camp at church, and every year she tells me that she can't wait until she's old enough to try out for a solo (they are usually reserved for kids who have completed the 4th grade). She sings in the church choir for kids in 1st-3rd grades and every so often they will have a solo slot. Well, a few weeks ago Ella came out of choir carrying some sheet music. She explained that there was going to be some solos for their end of the year concert and she told Mrs. Beth that she wanted to audition for one.
This is where it's hard being a parent. I love hearing Ella sing! I think she has the sweetest voice on the planet! BUT...the world is full of people who can't carry a tune, yet their mothers think they have the most amazing voice that has ever been heard. Various TV shows are full of people who have spent their entire lives being told they are fantastic singers, only to have expert judges tell them that they can't carry a tune in a bucket! And so my struggle began. Encourage Ella to audition and help her practice as much as possible, yet keep her grounded enough that she doesn't get too upset if she doesn't get the solo. I knew her competition...they were good...they were REAL good.
She practiced daily for 2 weeks. I would peck out the tune on the piano and she would sing along. She practiced in the car. She practiced in the bath tub. She practiced sitting on the couch. She practiced while she was helping me cook dinner. The girl seriously practiced!
The week came for her audition and I gave her a little pep talk beforehand. We talked about how she had practiced as much as she could and as long as she felt good that she had done all she could, the results didn't matter. And I emphasized that it was very important for her to be a good friend and if another kid gets the solo and she doesn't then she needs to be happy for them. It's ok to cry and be sad, but it's important to not be mean and to support them. She agreed.
Secretly, I prayed. I prayed so hard that she would get the solo! I prayed so hard that if she didn't get the solo that she would feel good about her audition. I prayed the entire time she was in that choir room.
I picked her up after GA's (which meets after choir) and she came trotting out of the room without saying a word. I anxiously waited for her to give me some sign. ANY SIGN! Nothing. We just walked down the hall in silence. KID!!! You're tearing me up! Finally, I asked, "How did choir go." "Good." she responded. Good? GOOD??? That's all I get? Just a plain, old 'good?' Finally she said, "Well, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I didn't get the solo I auditioned for. The good news is that I got another solo and I'll be singing it in front of the entire church on Sunday morning!" She went on to tell me the details about how Mrs. Beth announced that there was another solo opportunity to sing on Sunday morning with the big kids choir (4th-6th grades) and she asked kids to raise their hand if they were interested in auditioning for that solo. Ella raised her hand, auditioned, and got it! I was floored and so proud of her! What courage!
Now if I'm being honest, I already knew she got the solo. I direct the 4 year old choir at church, and afterward I usually just sit in the hall and talk with other moms until GA's is over. This week as I was sitting in the hall, Mrs. Beth came up to me and handed me some music. "Here," she said, "Ella got a solo. She'll be singing on Sunday, May 22 in both Sunday morning worship services." My heart was beating out of my chest! Apparently, when she asked who wanted to audition, Ella's hand was the first one in the air. I was so excited for Ella, but I wanted to hear it from her mouth, so I didn't tell her that I already knew.
Meanwhile, Joe was sitting and talking to some other dads in another area of the church. Turner, a kid Ella's age, came out looking for his mom. He was so excited because he had gotten a solo! Joe's heart sank. If Turner got the solo, that means Ella didn't. He was happy for Turner, but already planning on how he was going to cheer Ella up from this disappointment. Then, out of the blue, Turner said, "Ella got a solo too."
So here it is, without further ado. Ella's solo debut.