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What's a Tamraloo: part two: Bay Area Beginnings

When I was 7 years old, my parents enrolled me in classical piano studies with the fabulous and incredibly talented Beatrice Roberts of the Bay Area. I enjoyed my lessons as much as any kid does, I suppose. I dutifully learned my scales, the assigned pieces, the technique exercises which were boring but oh so important. My mom set a kitchen timer on top of the old upright and I worked my way through the required repertoire until I could pick up just about any piano piece around me and feel fairly competent in my delivery.

In 4th grade, our public elementary school decided to stage its first-ever musical. Mr. Bennet, new drama teacher (did we even HAVE drama teachers back them? He was prob an English teacher who got paid a pitiful stipend to do an after-school program) chose Annie, which was my favorite movie EVER. I loved to sing, but I had zero formal training. Seriously - I sang everything I could get my hands on, but I’d never ACTED IN CAPITAL LETTERS. I couldn’t really read music, and my painfully pitiful dance experience consisted of doing a series of turns in the opposite reaction as every other member of my class at my first and only dance recital.

But here’s the thing: I was exposed to music at a very young age. My parents played albums, from Phil Collins to Christopher Cross to the Mary Poppins soundtrack. My mom always had music going in the home, songs about seasons and holidays, and what we wanted to be when we grew up (if your kid has ever taken a Music and Movement class at our studio, I guarantee they’ve heard some of these 80’s throwbacks). We had piano and drums and band instruments in the home and sang every Sunday at church, and we were completely unembarrassed about any of it. In my mind, that’s what got me through that first audition: early exposure to music and a complete lack of self-censorship. Everything was ok in the world of music, you could be loud or smile big or make up an interpretive dance along the way. Being completely naive to things like competition and vocal pedagogy, I signed up to audition, and lo and behold - I got the lead. I still remember running home (yep, I walked to school in those days, and it was FAR) to tell my mom that all those hours outside acting out my favorite movies with friends was about to pay off.

After donning the infamous red wig and dress (borrowed, because we didn’t have money) and belting out Tomorrow (one of the most difficult songs for a young girl to sing, btw - seriously, it's a disaster), I was hooked on performing. From that moment on, playing and singing was just a part of me, an intrinsic piece of the DNA that made up my complex little soul. The Sound of Music followed Annie, and I confidently marched into that audition ready to take on the world...

And I didn’t get the lead.

I was in 5th grade and all of a sudden, performing wasn’t just fun, it was competition. And THAT wasn’t as fun.

...But do you know what WAS?

Remember those scales I was dutifully doing at the beginning of this blog post?!

Read all about it! Next Week😉

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