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School Friends: Book 6
Star of Silver Spires
by Ann Bryant
Mia's ambition is to be a real musician. She'd love to enter a song she's written in the Silver Spires Star contest, but then she'd have to play live onstage too. And performing in public is her biggest fear ever - can she find the courage to overcome it?
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“No, I can’t!” I insisted, shaking my head firmly. “Not in a million years!” I added, in case any of my friends hadn’t quite got the message.
“But you’re so talented, Mia!” said Georgie, my very best friend. “You play the piano like…brilliantly, and you sing like…brilliantly!”
I couldn’t help laughing. She looked so funny, throwing her hands in the air dramatically, as only Georgie can.
“And that song you made up is lovely,” added Naomi, smiling.
“No, I really can’t,” I repeated. “I’d just be too scared. I mean far too scared!” I folded my arms, and probably looked stubborn and immature. But I couldn’t help it. The thought of entering the Silver Spires junior singer/songwriter contest simply filled me with dread.
“I know what you mean about being nervous,” said Grace. “I still get nervous every time I do any competitive sport.”
I smiled gratefully at Grace. “And this is in front of the whole school,” I said quietly. But in my heart I knew that even if it was in front of just the Year Sevens, I’d still never be able to manage it. “I’d…die.”
“Which wouldn’t be very helpful if you were just about to sing!” said Georgie, looking at me as though I was hopeless.
“Don’t pressure her,” said Naomi. “Not everyone’s as outgoing as you, Georgie!”
I thanked Naomi for that, with my eyes. She’s the wise one of the group and I was really pleased that she understood how I felt.
“Well I think Mia needs to be pushed!” said Jess, folding her arms. “She’s just too modest!”
The five of us were sitting under one of the trees on the grass behind the main Silver Spires building. Well actually only four of us were sitting under the tree. Georgie was stretched out in the sun. She’d rolled her school skirt over at the waist to make it as short as possible, and she’d tied a knot in her shirt so her stomach could get tanned as well as her legs. It was morning break, and there were loads of other Silver Spires students dotted all over the huge grassy area, some of them lying back sunbathing, others just sitting and chatting. It was the second half of the summer term and also the beginning of the lovely hot weather. It gives me such a nice feeling to be able to look round and know that I’m a part of this beautiful place. Silver Spires is just the best boarding school in the world.
My eyes flicked round my friends and landed on Georgie. “You’re getting very pink,” I told her. “Did you put suncream on?”
She sighed. “Why did I have to be born with such pale skin? Why can’t I be black, like Naomi? Or at least a bit darker than I am, like Grace.”
Grace is from Thailand and it’s true she’s got lovely olive-coloured skin. She sighed and mumbled something about thinking her looks were boring, while Naomi laughed, then turned suddenly serious and stared into the distance. “We should just be happy with what we are, shouldn’t we?”
I guessed she was thinking about some of the poor people she’s met in Ghana, which is the country she comes from. Naomi is actually a Ghanaian princess, but she hates people knowing that. She feels very lucky to have been born into a wealthy family, and she spends loads of time in the school holidays working for a charity that builds wells in Ghana.
“Well, I’m just as pale as you, Georgie,” I quickly said, because Naomi looked sad, and I wanted to bring her back to the here and now.
“And I’ve got freckles but I don’t care!” laughed Jess.
“Yes, that’s another complaint I’ve got,” Georgie said, sitting up suddenly. “I’d be fine with being pale as long as I had a ‘don’t care’ attitude like you two!”
So then we all laughed, and I felt happy that we’d got away from the subject of the Silver Spires Star contest, because the very thought of singing my own song in front of an audience made me feel quite panicky, and I didn’t like my friends trying to push me into it. It was embarrassing and pathetic that I had such a fear of performing in public, especially because music is so important to me and I love playing the piano. But what happened when I was six years old has left a terrible mark on me.
It was my first local music festival and I was playing a piece by Handel. We were all supposed to announce our pieces and say the name of the composer before we played. I remember looking out at all the faces and trying to find Mum and Dad and my baby brother, but Mum’s seat was empty. It turned out that she’d had to take my little brother out because he’d started to cry, but I didn’t know that at the time and I just felt frightened to see all the faces but no Mum. When I came to announce my piece, in my worried state I couldn’t remember the name of the composer, but I knew it reminded me of a doorknob, so that’s what I said… “‘Intermezzo’, by Door Knob.” And I remember wanting to cry because I didn’t understand why people started laughing. And I got so upset then that my fingers didn’t seem to work properly and I played the piece terribly and got the worst mark of anyone.
The next year, my teacher tried to persuade me to enter the music festival again but I refused. When I was eight I finally agreed to give it another try, but I felt so sick when I got onto the stage that I had to run off and straight out of the hall, otherwise I would have been sick in front of the whole audience.
After that I never entered one of the town music festivals again, and neither did I play piano in concerts at my primary school, even though my teachers and then my friends tried and tried to persuade me. In the end the teachers gave up because I think Mum must have had a word with them, but my friends wouldn’t leave me alone. None of them knew what had happened at the music festivals, and it was far too embarrassing to explain, so I just kept on making excuses that I’d hurt my finger or didn’t have a piece ready, or even that I’d lost my music, which all seems ridiculous now.
It was a relief when the Year Six concert at my old school came and went without me having to play in it, but then I came here to Silver Spires and now it looks as though my problems are starting all over again.
Ann Bryant is both an author and a musician. She started her writing when she was young, writing a play when she was still at primary school. At school, one of her favourite activities was just hanging out with friends and Ann is happy to relive these times again with the girls of Silver Spires in the fantastic School Friends series. Ann now teaches music and drama as well as writing children's fiction, including the very successful Ballerina Dreams series.
Visit www.annbryant.co.uk to find out more.
Do you agree or disagree with the reviews below? Why not write your own?
I thought it was funny because I was taking part in a Talent show at the same time! But I thought it was fab! Mia was a nice character, because she is a nice person. I think Bella was very naughty about cheating (and it was AGAINST THE RULES!!). Anyway she was very sad about it and said sorry about 2000 times !! Well that's my review about Star of Silver Spires!
Emilia, 24th April 2010
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