I received the notification in the post this morning that I’d failed my ATCL Singing Recital Diploma. Just by a handful of marks, but even failing by one mark is enough, isn’t it? Most devastating was the low mark I was given for technique.

I worked hard for the diploma and I think I was – just – at that level but an endless cycle of negativity had built up in my head and that all affects the singing voice and the sound production. In my case it was recurrent problems with tonality. The examiner made it clear in his notes that he didn’t think I sang in tune. (I missed a pp and a dotted note in a couple of the pieces too.) Probably not allocating myself enough time or concentration; having the builders around the house; going away to India just before the exam didn’t help but those are side issues. In the end, I did not sing well enough. So there we are.

I don’t think I’ve ever failed an exam before unless you could the sightsinging sections of my Grade 6 and 7 singing exams, and the closest I’ve come to this feeling is when I received the letter telling me that I wasn’t required to come for my Oxford University entrance interview. You have this feeling that you’re nowhere near as good at anything as you thought you were. At least Trinity had the grace to provide me with notes about my performance, even though it took them 10 and a half weeks; even though they spelt my name wrong on the envelope.

Yes, I am a bit devastated. So those of you out there – and there are one or two – who like to read my updates but wish me ill can have a good crow and rub your hands with glee. Enjoy yourselves, you might as well.

Where do I go from here? Well currently I’d like to walk away and forget the whole thing. Asa couple of people were kind enough to point out: it was my choice to take the exam and I didn’t have to push myself to that extent. I could have postponed it had I wanted to. I have made a mental note not to talk to you next time.

Yes, I guess there will be next time. I don’t know yet whether I can repeat the programme or whether I have to put together a new one and I’m currently not sure whether to get the damn thing over with in the summer or to wait, hone, improve, perfect and try again next December. All of these things depend on a conversation with my singing teacher whom I haven’t seen since before my exam, such was the trauma of it all. I think, however, that it’s not setting a great example to give up at the first setback and, as I said in my New Year’s Resolutions, I owe it to myself to pass this diploma to have something to show for the hard work.

So there we go. Stripped bare. Only a little self-pity. It’s going to be very embarrassing telling my choir chums this evening.