The Ten-Year Old Inside Me
When I was ten years old a boy in my class told me that I could not sing. Along with that I also did not get the lead singing role in our school musical. Easily influenced and hurt I decided that I would never sing in public again for fear of being ridiculed. Fast forward a decade (or two) later and I am a drama teacher and have directed over 25 musicals during my career so far. I have performed as a lead in the musical, Hairspray, and have sung as part of a duo, Dean and Elle. It took me many, many years to find my own voice and comfort in singing publicly.
When I began working as a director for a Youth Theatre Company in the GTA I had the opportunity to prepare numerous students to audition for our yearly musical. Students were required to sing a song (a cappella), perform a monologue and potentially do some choreography. Often we show students a ‘mock’ audition using the creative team as examples. I got up in from of my students and performed my monologue. No problems there. I performed my 16-count dance routine. Still on a roll. Then it was time to sing. I froze. The students stared intently at me. I wanted to sing, to show them that auditions were not scary, and here I was frozen to my spot, my mouth unable to open. I decided to be honest with them. I told my students that I was scared and nervous to sing. They looked at me bewildered. I told them that being nervous is okay and a natural part of auditioning and sometimes we need to take risks. I asked these eight to fourteen-year old’s if they could wait a minute while I gathered my thoughts and I would sing for them. They patiently waited. I opened my mouth and, “Kids” from Bye Bye Birdie came out. When I finished, the kids applauded. A ten-year-old came up to me and said, “See Katy, it’s not so bad”. “You’re right”, I responded with a smile, “it’s not”. I wish this ten-year-old child was my friend when I was ten.
Just as my students encouraged me in that moment, we at CYT encourage our students every day they are with us. We want them to take risks in a safe and supportive environment. As an educator and director, I want to show my students that I am a real person with challenges and not everything I do is perfect. I want to show them that we all continue to learn, regardless of our age. I believe in teaching holistically. At CYT we do not only teach singing, dancing and acting, but we teach empathy, compassion, team work, risk taking, community, confidence and respect. We endeavour to provide a space where all our students feel they belong, where they can express themselves, where they can laugh and play and explore, all through the wonderful world of theatre.
If you haven’t already, we invite you to join us. Join us in our theatre or vocal classes, wave to us in the parades, donate with us as we raise money for local charities, applaud us as we perform and watch as our students transform both on and off the stage.
CYT Alumni Program
Katy is a dramatic arts high school teacher in Mississauga. With her passion for theatre and love of teaching, she has been directing students in plays for many years.