• Anna Leigh

From beginner to reaching for the stars! Jenny's Journey



From beginner to reaching for the stars! Jenny's Journey!

My first lesson was actually on my birthday September 25th and I will never forget it. I was firstly lucky to get into Anna’s school as SJ had sent most of her students there and spaces were filling up rapidly so I just about got in. I was nervous singing in front of Anna, with her high qualifications I was afraid and shy, I belted some random song (okay I do remember it, you and i by lady gaga) out so she could listen to my voice ( God only knows what mistakes I made) part of me didn’t want to face the commentary at the end …I didn't know Anna, and I soon realised I was terrified again. Anna was professional and honest but not in a way I didn't ever want to come back, I needed this to boost my confidence so she was what I needed.

Anna had a client list over a mile long and to give everyone a shot she put me in with a teacher called Emma when she realised I was all about musical theatre, Emma from her background was most experienced in this field. Emma! A bubbly happy little energiser bunny who always smiled! even if I was having a bad day I never left on a downer. The musical theatre dream began…. It was always a guilty pleasure of mine … a good musical but the fact that she was ‘involved’ in local theatre companies we started our practise. She had me singing songs from Phantom of the Opera ‘think of me’,Defying gravity’ , ‘I know him so well’, and as you can imagine the list was endless. I knew I wasn't ready for theatre but it was in the pipeline. Emma showed me how to act confident without being confident an important trick of the trade for even life itself. I soon came out of my shell! I felt comfortable, I could make mistakes but not be ridiculed and they could be made right and with my new best friend ‘the mirror’ (this stopped me pulling my vocal chords) I was able to preform my first solo musical song in front of what seemed like a hundred people ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’, at Anna’s christmas concert.

Suddenly musical theatre wasn't challenging enough and at the risk of hating the style I turned to Country, a style I was practically reared on. I hadn't done much country but I had a few heroes Gareth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Dolly Parton, Shania Twain, Tammy Wynette and the list goes on believe me. Country songs gave me more rhythm and gave my timing a little kick start (this is something I struggle most with). It wasn't something I could learn, it wasn't a high note I couldn't reach it seemed unobtainable and to be honest to this day it still seems like a dream far off in the distance but as they say in the music business practice makes perfect.

As all good things come to an end emma left to pursue another career but as she left she introduced me to Whitley Bay operatics society the musical theatre group the ‘way in to’ musical theatre in the north East. THIS WAS IT! This is what dreams were made of…… I would hopefully after auditions possible get to be on stage as part of a production! The parts had all been cast but luckily for me after a few years of singing lessons and a few emails from Emma to the society I was given the opportunity to audition for a chorus part!!!! Thanks to Emma I nailed it—— and I was in! Somewhere over the rainbow came out again although the MD Mr. Andrew Soulsby insisted accompanying me on the piano (much to my dismay) my timing issue was uncovered! I was saved however, as i could carry a note or two thanks to Anna and Emma I was on my way to ‘stardom’ ha ha! Rehearsals went on for about six months rehearsing from ONE to Three days a week! Even though I was a chorus member Spamalot the production had very random scenes which included chorus members about 40% of the time and with all the different harmonies I learned when to project and lower my voice. Spamalot suited me as i was able to show off my range, imagine dancing and singing like a broadway musical star at the same time this would take time, but i was to conquer it!

Rehearsals were time consuming but the friends i made were worth the time ten fold! Show week was something else, we had a dressing room something I only imagined big stars would have! We had make up ladies a costume designer and a prompt, sweeties,presents! Not that I needed much assistance but with every second drawing to an open curtain the nerves kicked in. I was NOT a co-ordinated dancer but I had a strong voice, 50% right for the part but 100% committed. The dressing room unfolded show week traditions and I received my first ‘good luck’ card from Emma my now good friend, she knew I was nervous but because she was there it never showed. I was involved in a few different scenes and even though I spent most of the time repeating my singing harmonies I enjoyed the atmosphere, the excitement the knocking on the door from the MD and director informing us of the ticket sales, it was all electric, a feeling I couldn't forget it was like a drug and I wanted more.

The show ended on a high of course but the Sunday after I felt noting but emptiness, everything and everybody had gone! I still had my lessons with Anna this kept me going!

My journey had been long and interesting I have had many musical and singing challenges and believe me I have left much out, but I have always had a constant SJ/EMMA/ANNA/RACH lets see what we can do….. on my journey to reach for the stars!

Jennifer Gallagher xx


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