Mama Mayhem

Hear the music, don’t read it

By Riverine Herald

I HAVE a dirty little secret.

I actually feel ashamed revealing it considering I am such a musical theatre nut.

But I think the time has come to finally reveal all.

So here goes.

I can’t read music.

There, I’ve said it.

Yes, you heard right.

The karaoke queen and soon-to-be Morticia in Echuca-Moama Theatre Company’s upcoming production of ‘The Addams Family’ is musically illiterate.

The thing is, I love music and I love singing.

I actually played the violin in grade 5, but I gave up after about six months because my violin-holding arm got too sore.

I wish Mum forced me to toughen up, because there was every chance I could have become a famous violinist with the Vienna Symphony.

I guess we’ll never know.

Not only that, I would have been able to read music.

If I hadn’t quit music in year 10, I would be able to tell the difference between a treble clef, crotchet, quaver and a minim.

I blame my music teacher.

She was a serious hippy (which I’m all for) but it got to the point where I got more of her untamed underarm hair and funky body odour than the notes she was teaching us.

Plus, she stole my first speaking role in a school musical from under me after I failed to show up to one rehearsal because I was having my braces put on.

I was too unsure of myself and self-conscious (thanks to a mouth of metal) to stand up to her.

So she ended up starring as crow 2 who got two whole lines in ‘The Wiz’.

And I got demoted to a non-speaking munchkin.

I’m over it, but occasionally I wonder ‘what if?’.

Could I have been the next Meryl Streep or Barbara Streisand?

Again, we’ll never know.

But then I would have missed the opportunity to star in the best amateur musical theatre productions I have ever done.

And being given the honour of a leading role as the macabre and sultry Morticia still makes my head spin.

Yet, as a non-music reader, I have to learn to sing by sound which can be difficult.

Especially when the people around you are asking things like ‘Is that note a B or B-flat?’ or ‘Are we singing in minor or major?’ and ‘Could you make the tone less vibrato’.

And it’s extremely difficult when we’re singing harmonies and I’m desperately trying to hold my alto part over the sopranos and basses next to me with their high and low-pitched voices.

That’s why rehearsals are so important. Because practice makes perfect.

We are now rehearsing Addams three times a week, and it’s fantastic to see the progress we are making.

There are so many musically talented people in this show, I was initially a little intimidated.

I was terrified to even mention I couldn’t read music. But as it turns out, I’m not the only one.

And thanks to our gifted director Luke Westley and musical director Victoria Pannett, we don’t need to.

We just need to listen and learn and practice, practice, practice.

And considering the likes of Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Eric Clapton, The Beatles and Eddie Van Halen couldn’t read or write music, well there’s hope for all of us.