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Periaktoi Writing Post

Volume 55
Issue 1

Single Visual Art Post

  • Essay
Whistle a Happy Tune
Mary Margaret Bender


“Whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle a happy tune so no one will
suspect I’m afraid.” - The King and I, an award winning broadway musical and the roadmap to my life. I sang this song in voice lessons when I was seven years old and to this very day if you asked me to sing it on the spot I could still do it. It’s not a song I have in my playlist, in fact, up until a few months ago I hadn’t heard it since my childhood. But it’s stuck in my memory because somewhere in between the story of a woman convincing a child to not fret about meeting a Persian king, lies a life altering message.

My demeanor has always conflicted with my interests. I have always been someone who desires to socialize and connect with others, and someone who is passionate about performing arts. However I’m not so skilled in the confidence and courageousness department. As you can imagine, this creates a conflict of interest, as my own self doubt and fears can get in the way of my goals. But when I was learning this song I felt weirdly free. I liked that I got to whistle in the middle of it and be silly. But more importantly, the message gave me a rather comforted feeling and let me know that everything was going to be okay. So, this became my go to song.

If I am really stressed out or worn out it is often pointed out that I am whistling or humming. Such a happy act gives the appearance of a lighthearted feeling. I think this is why the whistling method is so effective. It shows that one isn’t taking life too seriously and is rather calm despite the crazy world around them.

This method has been tested by yours truly, specifically in auditions for Madeleine’s Christmas at the Atlanta Theatre when I was 10. It is important to note that I tried out for this very show a total of 5 years in a row. Not once did I get a part, however I think I developed as a performer and a person each time. The first time, I was about 6 and I simply burst into tears due to nerves. The next year I sang this song. I will not make the argument that I triumphed and got that role because of the song, for that would be a fib. However, when I was up in front of 30 girls and directors whistling and “striking a careless pose” my mind was racing with possibilities, but nobody realized. And as a result, I kept making it farther and farther in the audition process for years to come.

To quote the musical composer Richard Rodgers, “Make believe you’re brave and the trick will take you far. You may be as brave as you make believe you are. *whistle, whistle, whistle* You may be as brave as you make believe you are.”