Don’t Look at the Monitor.

Dylan participated in a singing competition at his school called “RAM Idol.”

A play on American Idol, it featured 14 singers who each sang one song, and then the top four were selected to sing a second song. Of the final four, one winner is selected to win two hours of recording studio time.

Two years ago, Dylan came from the middle school and was one of the opening acts for the show. He chose a song he didn’t sing well, and the background music overpowered his voice. He didn’t move on stage, and sang haltingly. The middle schoolers didn’t compete. But it was a good experience for him.

“Don’t worry about winning,” I told him. “Don’t worry about anything. Just think about the music.”

“Okay,” Dylan said.

Dylan sat in the audience with us for the first few singers. One of them kept staring at the monitor, as if she’d forgotten the words.

I envisioned my son as a shy kid, standing motionless in front of the screen, not looking up.

“Don’t look at the monitor,” I whispered to him.

“I won’t,” Dylan said. I worried that he might forget the words, stumble and forget, and then he would need the monitor. Then I worried that he would be afraid to look at it, because I told him not to.

But I stopped giving advice. This was, after all, Dylan’s show.

Dylan sang seventh.

He walked out onto the stage and greeted the crowd to thunderous applause. Then, without ever knowing a monitor existed, he sang a powerhouse ballad so strongly, so beautifully, even his little brother got tears in his eyes.

He took command of the stage, not standing still for too long – but not moving so much that it destroyed the effect of the ballad. He made eye contact with the audience, didn’t even notice the monitor. The crowd hushed during the quiet parts, roared during the robust parts. Several times, girls screamed like they were watching The Beatles.

Dylan totally nailed it.

He was the only male singer in the final four contestants. For Dylan’s second song, he did a strong rock number, showing another side of himself entirely. And again, he totally nailed it.

It’s been several days since the competition, and I just sit and watch the videos over, and over, and over again.


  1. Kirsten says:

    Oh, I so agree! He was just over-the-moon excited!

  2. Kelli says:

    The singing was terrific, but his intro to the second song might have been my very favorite part. 🙂

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