Singing The Star-Spangled Banner in public is extremely difficult even for seasoned professionals. Just making a quick check of YouTube shows 120,000 results for “national anthem fail.”
Just imagine what goes through someone’s mind when she is singing it in public for the first time.
“I just hoped I wouldn’t forget the words,” Culver Girls Academy junior Taylor Robbins said. “I was really nervous. I’m glad I didn’t.”
Robbins (Wabash, Ind.) sang the anthem before the 51st Culver Wrestling Invitational on Saturday, Jan. 24. The crowd included wrestlers, coaches, and fans from 10 schools – and her mom, Elizabeth (Bailey) Dunham ’95. That’s approximately 300 people. And when the color guard marches on to the floor of the Steinbrenner Recreation Center, everyone’s eyes are drawn right to the person holding the microphone.
Robbins was so nervous, in fact, that she nearly went hoarse practicing on Friday.
“My voice was starting to get scratchy,” she said. “Miss (choral director Stacey) Warren told me to just stop singing, which is hard to do because you’re pretty nervous. You want it to be perfect.”
You want to get it right, make the best of the performance opportunity
The butterflies were still present on Saturday morning. “I just wanted it to be over,” she said. “You want to get it right, make the best of the performance opportunity.”
Then there was a slight delay as the weight class pairings were finalized. But that turned out to be a blessing in disguise for Robbins. “The extra time actually gave me a chance to calm down.”
Just before she sang, Robbins said she reminded herself of Warren’s advice to breathe from her diaphragm – not just to be heard clearly but to help keep her calm, too.
About halfway through the anthem a small child started making noise.
“It almost sounded like a dog barking. It was kind of distracting,” Robbins said, “but it didn’t bother me.”
After she finished, Robbins got a big hug from Warren, her mother, who recorded it on her smartphone, and received congratulations from various wrestling coaches and referees (a tough bunch to please, for sure), and others. She was somewhat surprised by all the congratulations.
And how did she feel?
“It feels a lot better now.”