Josh paced in front of the whiteboard in the little classroom Amanda somehow reserved a rehearsal space for the group. Before the rest of the group arrived, he had written a sampling of words on the board, including:
He hadn’t given a lot of thought to what the words meant in the context of this rehearsal, one week removed from the group’s abysmal debut performance. He had never had to lead a rehearsal like this in high school—that group had never let him down.
But he reminded himself that circumstances had changed, and building from the ground up with only students was fundamentally different from working with a faculty advisor in leading a longstanding student organization. This was different and they would work through it.
“You need to listen to one another on stage,” Amanda said. “You need to listen and be patient. If you fall off track, wait for a cue and join back in. Stick with it, though. Keep trying to find your way, and don’t just disappear from the song.” Amanda had suggested they take a good cop-bad cop approach to the rehearsal—that she would point out the mistakes and what needed change, and Josh would reinvigorate the group, and get them motivated for the rehearsal that followed. True to form, Amanda went point by point to explain the notes she and Josh had compiled about what went wrong. Despite entering that discussion in a poor mood, Josh ended up in surprisingly good spirits. It wasn’t until afterward that he realized how much of that feeling came from the sheer experience of spending time with Amanda, after which point he felt badly about that and reentered his funk.
“Amanda just laid out a lot of what went wrong,” Josh picked up, on cue. “But we don’t want to lose sight of the fact that there’s a lot we’ve done right. And if there’s one thing that should get us all excited, it’s this.” With a clumsy flourish, Scott removed a computer print out from his messenger bag. “We got an email today to let us we got into the ICCAs.”
Russ scratched at his scraggly brown hair. “The what?”
“The ICCAs.” Josh willed the smile to stay on his face. Before anyone else could indicate they didn’t know what he was talking about he went on, “That competition we applied to—the one we recorded the demo for. We were good enough to get accepted to compete.”
“Well can we defer it for a year?” Andrew asked. “Because it’s not like we’re ready to compete live now. We couldn’t even keep it together for one song at a coffee house.”
“Andrew, you’ve done musical theatre, right?” Josh asked.
“Yeah, starred in Okla—”
“The point,” Josh cut him off before the inevitable exhaustive list to follow, “is that you know about presenting yourself on stage. If you flubbed a line or missed a note, did you let that stop you from putting on a great show?”
“Well, I never really messed up on stage—”
“Then if someone else did?”
“No. No, you put on brave face, ad lib if you need to and keep the show going so the crowd’s never the wiser.”
“And that’s what we’re going to do,” Josh said. “We had a setback, but we’re just going to come back harder. So we blew one song? Next time we’ll come sing three, and nail them all.” He waved the sheet of paper again. “This is what opportunity looks like. No one handed this to us. We earned it. Just like we’re going to earn the win at our quarterfinal. We just have to work even harder, rehearse longer, practice on our own more.”
“Or we take the opposite route,” Evangeline said. Evangeline sat there side by side with Katie, her polar opposite. Katie was a sweet high school girl with a dream of singing, who demonstrated quite probably the greatest pure talent of anyone. Evangeline was brash, came to her audition and sang Heart’s “Alone,” belting every note, demonstrating a passion and power that Amanda had contended they could mold to suit group’s needs. Josh had had his doubts, but Amanda went on to explain that she would be a vital social and emotional core to the group—she would make it fun.
“The opposite route?” Josh asked.
“I’m not saying we shouldn’t work hard,” Evangeline said. “But I think part of our problem is that we’ve been all work and no play. I think we need to all cut loose and enjoy each other’s company for a change.”
“I think that’s a great idea.” Josh crossed his arms, pacing closer to her. “But we don’t have a lot of time to rehearse now. With Thanksgiving coming up, and winter break—”
“I’m not saying we take rehearsal time to go mini-golfing or something,” Evangeline said. “I’m suggesting a party. My place. This Saturday night.”