When the Trapp Family Singers (Sound of Music) began their U.S. singing tour, they expected audiences who would be impressed by their technical skill and the difficulty of their selections. Their audiences agreed that they were exceptionally good singers, but that didn’t mean they wanted to listen to a 45-minute-long piece that they knew nothing about!
Their manager said, “There is something you are lacking…something between you and your audience.”
Then came the fly.
The Trapps were finishing a concert of madrigals and motets, Bach and Mozart. Maria chose a “Jodler” for the encore.
“In yodeling, one has to take a deep breath and then hold out for long phrases at a time. We were just in the middle of it when, oh horror! A fly started circling around my face. I watched it, cross-eyed, and got panicky, I knew very soon I would have to take a deep breath, and what if…
“We took our deep breath and it happened. In went the fly…a good cough would have helped, but to cough the right way on stage is much, much harder than to sing the right way. I outdid myself in not coughing, but I couldn’t help turning purple. I happened to have the leading part in this jodler, the melody; but that mountain call had to be finished without it…My brave children tried not to pay any attention to their choking mother, and when they were finished, I was too—with the fly.“
Maria felt she had to apologize. She announced, “What never happened before has happened now. I swallowed a fly.”
The audience laughed..and laughed…and laughed. When they quieted down, she wanted to make up for the spoiled encore with an Austrian folk song. She explained: “It describes how a young hunter climbs up in the rocks for hours looking for, and finally shooting, a—” The animal she meant was a chamois, but instead she said “chemise.*” Not only the audience, but the rest of the family, shook with laughter.
The missing link had been found–interact with your listeners as if you are at home enjoying a musical party.
- A chamois is a kind of deer; its hide is the chamois that polishes a car. A chemise, for those who aren’t familiar with fashion terminology from half a century ago, is a loose-fitting garment that can be a nightgown, underwear, or a simple dress.