Excruciatingly Embarrassing

My most embarrassing moment was a few months after I turned 18, halfway through my last year of school.  I did a lot of dumb things back then – as we all did.  One of the more stupid things I decided to do was try to take units 3 & 4 in Music, after only starting to learn guitar a couple of years before and not being very good…mostly because I hated practicing.  I didn’t take any music units at school prior to deciding to do it in my final year (well, not since the mandatory lessons back in Year 8, which was a long time before).  I’d been taking guitar lessons for a couple of years, and that had given me an unhealthy confidence that I could take on the challenge.  The music teachers didn’t think it was a good idea either, warning me it’d be very difficult, but like the naive teenager I was, I did it anyway.  How hard could it be, right?

It it hard.
Really, really hard.

First off, because I’d been taught guitar in tabs, not sheet music.  Music class was all about sheet music and the theory behind it.  Add to that, musical theory and maths go hand in hand, and I’ve always been terrible at maths, to the point I wasn’t even doing it in my final year.  Still, I scraped through class by class, barely passing but not failing either.

Now, you’d think this would force me to take things more seriously and focus on it more.  You’d think I’d get my gameface on and try.  After all, I’d been the one to defy what the teachers had told me to do it anyway.  Instead, I didn’t take it seriously at all.  I guess in my defence, I’d already done two final-year classes the year before, so I knew if I really bombed in Music, then I had those results to fall back on (at the time, only the top five results counted towards your overall mark so the worst two classes for me would drop off and not count).  Also, about halfway through my final year I was accepted into film school, which in turn led me to be even more relaxed about school and my final marks.

Anyway, aside from theory, there were also practical exams for music.  Like I said, I’d only been playing guitar for a couple of years and I wasn’t great.  I wasn’t awful either, but I certainly wasn’t anywhere near the standard I should have been to be taking the class (I know that now!).  As part of the lead up to our exams, the teacher decided it’d be good practice to have a performance night in the school hall, where parents and friends could come and watch how everyone was going.

Again, you’d think that’d make me knuckle down a little.  I mean, it’s a freaking performance in front of people other than peers.  Instead, the date kept creeping closer and closer, and I’d practice in class and at my music lessons.  Even though I wasn’t nailing it, I thought “it’ll be fine”.  Having never had to play an instrument in front of anyone, I didn’t really get it.  I just assumed it’d somehow – magically – come together.

So, the night came.  I went out on stage with the other people I was performing with.  The hall was maybe half-full, so it wasn’t a huge crowd, but it seemed pretty big from where I was standing.  The music started, and I froze up.  I missed where I was supposed to come in.  Then I tried to overcome that by joining in, and missing the timing, then having to stop and start again.  Then, stressing more, I started to forget the notes.  The longer it went on, the worse my performance was, until by the end I’d basically stopped playing so I wasn’t ruining it for the others on stage.

I’d never been so humiliated in my life, and I knew I had nobody to blame but myself.  I hadn’t put any serious practice in and this was what I deserved.  I’d been lazy, overconfident, naive, dumb.  My face was burning as I left the stage.  I collected my stuff as quickly as possible (which isn’t that quick when you’re lugging a guitar around), expecting people to pay me out.  Nobody said anything, which I guess was the best I could of hoped for.  I got out of there quick smart, and was thoroughly embarrassed for about a week.

At least one good thing came out of it.  By the time my real practical exam rolled around, I’d practiced so much I could almost play it with my eyes closed.  I wasn’t going to so stupid again.  I knew it wasn’t just going to come together, it took real work.  I still didn’t get great marks in the class overall, but at least I didn’t totally stuff up the practical exam.  Phew!

This was inspired by the prompt ‘your most excruciatingly embarrassing moment. We’ve all got one.’ which can be found here.

“And then I’ll let her break my heart ‘cos that’s all that I do well…”

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “This Is Your Song.”
Take a line from a song that you love or connect with. Turn that line into the title of your post.

One of my favourite songs of all time is Ben Lee’s “Ketchum”, which is off his second album, made well before he became famous.

I’ve loved it since the first time I heard it, years and years and years ago, when I was going through my “Ben Lee 4eva” phase.  There’s reasons why it has stayed in my heart long after the phase died out.

Firstly, those haunting strings in the background.  God, I can’t even deal with how beautiful they are.  I know it’s not Mozart-quality, but they get me every time.

Secondly, I can relate to so many of the lyrics.  These ones are my absolute favourite, though I love the whole song:

I’m gonna roam the Ketchum streets to find a Ketchum girl
And then I’ll let her break my heart ‘cos that’s all that I do well

The valley will become my home her hills will keep me safe
I’ll give her songs about my soul when there’s no soul left to take
And I’ll forget, I ever lived in any other place

And these ones:

And it may seem inevitable, I would love this fate
So beautiful and tragic and her heroes can’t escape
And Hemingway he shot himself one July evening late

I know it’s not the most uplifting song in the world, but whenever I’m feeling upset or hurt or alone, I crank this song up.  The last thing I want to hear when I’m feeling that way is something happy and chirpy.  This song is a reminder that I’m not alone, and that it’s okay to feel bad sometimes.  Hell, it’s even okay to wallow in it for awhile, just so long as you come back from it eventually.

I absolutely adore the whole album, and it still blows my mind that he was 17 when it was released!  How mental is that!  It’s not a musical masterpiece in terms of instruments used or anything, but some of the lyrics on the album are so beautiful I can’t even deal.  I wish I was half as talented as he was back then.  So crazy!