One thing is for certain, J loves to sing! In fact as long as he has been able to talk he has sang. When he had serious meltdowns in the car on the way home from school as a young boy I would turn on a musical soundtrack and he’d slowly settle and start to sing. By the time we completed our half hour journey he would be in a better place. This quickly turned into a go to strategy for high anxiety situations.
Many a teacher have commented on his singing in school and how best to manage it? I suggested that when they found out, it would be lovely if they could share! One particular day I arrived to collect J from his second primary school and was met by a rather perplexed teacher. She did the thing that all parents dread and called me over to one side. (To be honest, we were getting quite immune to this dread feeling as it was becoming a regular occurrence.) She explained that J had disrupted the class during topic time by bursting into song and marching around the classroom. He sang ‘Be Back Soon’ from Oliver Twist which starts off as ‘ Line up, Line up, single file.’ If this wasn’t bad enough, the whole class got up from their seats and started to follow him! I did what any good parent would do and attempted to hide my amusement but didn’t succeed. Instead, I said that he was currently rehearsing for Oliver and I was so pleased that he had shared what he had learnt so far. Unfortunately, she didn’t share my delight!
We used to laugh about J not being fitted with a volume switch as he belts everything out. This was one of the main reasons why we invested in singing lessons to see if they could help him with his volume control. This was an impossible task! However, he is a natural born singer and it is not a chore to have to listen to him. The rest of the household might disagree when he wakes up singing in the early hours, belting out anything from ’Bring him Home’ from Les Miserables to a Backstreet Boys mash up, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.
As he has grown, singing has continued to be a passion for J. It is his outlet, a way to express himself and disperse some energy of which there is plenty. He has had to learn what he is singing about, what all the emotions mean and how he should manage the song. Whilst he can learn the words quickly, picking up the story does not come easy and this takes a huge effort to take on the song to the fullest. J is a perfectionist, so it needs to be absolutely right.
Over the last year, J’s voice has started to change which has caused him high anxiety. One day he can sing and another day he can’t sing as well. The notes that he can reach alters. The key to the songs therefore need to change and just as he gets it right, it changes again! When your life long calming strategy makes you anxious, it is a heavy blow. The distress is relentless and his self esteem plummets through the floor.
So, what do we do…? We have a breather, some time away from it and then get up and try again. We take the advice of his dedicated singing teacher who seems to ‘just get’ J and we take the fairy steps to achieve a breakthrough. It hasn’t been an easy few months with the lock down but his singing teacher like many others in the profession have been there and helped him through. Whether that be lessons, words of advice, positive comments on his singing or just being there, it all matters and it all makes a difference.
J produced a song in lock down to raise money for the local hospital, supporting children and young people with their mental health. He managed a 9-minute interview on national radio despite only being asked for a couple of minutes of content and spoke about his triple A condition and how he manages his anxiety. He made us so proud and the song ‘ Wall in my Head’ from ‘Everybody’s Talking About Jamie’ raised £300.00.
J will always sing and we will always encourage him. He has learnt to hum in school now rather than belt out a tune so I suppose that is progress! He comes alive when he sings (although he has no idea what this expression means!) and can bring a tear to the eye of the strongest of characters with his voice. Long may this continue.