How does one cope, whether a student or a parent, with the disappointment of not being chosen for an ‘ideal’ try-out placement? How does one trust that the instructor made a fair and unbiased choice? The success for an individual in these particular situations is in learning how to deal with disappointment, self-esteem issues, the resulting emotions and the opportunity within the disappointment!

School concert times are upon us again, and casting decisions become the hot focus of discussion both in and outside of school. Reactions by students and their parents to the final ‘choices’ are often similar to those for sports teams try-outs. Most schools provide two kinds of sporting and dramatic events – from the all-inclusive – everyone plays intramurals and participates in the monthly Assembly presentations, to the competitive tryouts to ‘make the team’ or audition and aim for a favoured role!

As a long-time educator, I believe that one has to trust, that in competitive try-outs, that the coach or the music/drama teachers will make their best selection based on student skill demonstrated at the try-out or audition. Unfortunately, most students and parents do not have the opportunity to be present at the try-outs to see or judge for themselves, as does the lead instructor, when selecting students for a specific placement or stage role.

The competitive try-out experience has profound potentials inherent within the experience, and influences a student’s character development – whether one is selected or not. For parents, there are a number of approaches to help your child to learn from and to ease these kinds of disappointments:

1) Parents need to be supportive of the choices make by the coaches or teachers, particularly in front of their child. There are inherent lessons for your child in learning how to cope with disappointment. Children need positive role-models of good sportsmanship, as well as parental support and encouragement in handling their disappointments.

2) If you disagree with the chosen slate of participants, then by all means do see the person in charge of the decision making, to understand more about the selection criteria, and to request suggestions on how best to prepare your child to succeed in the next round of competitive selections.

3) You might draw your child’s attention to past patterns in disappointments – and outcomes.  For example, if they had ‘won’ the try-out, then they wouldn’t have been available for any subsequent ‘opportunity’ that came along.   Often there are ‘gifts’ that show up in one’s life, when one desired avenue has not materialized.

4) Help your child understand that the person ‘in charge’ of the decisions is making the best choice from their perspective, and as a participant, one doesn’t necessarily ‘see’ the whole picture as they do.

5) Help your child understand that sometimes life can be unfair; and that being ‘fair’ to one person can at times not be ‘fair’ to another.   Life just works that way sometimes.

6) Know that disappointments can also be motivating and can also lead to making subsequent choices one wouldn’t otherwise have considered.

7) Know also that there is often a pattern to life, and that there are opportunities both as being ‘the chosen’ as well as the runner-up!

As a child, I had the opportunity to be a part of two stage productions.  I don’t recall if there had been any try-outs; however, I was assigned the position of being ‘the rock’ in one, and moved up to ‘a tree’ status the following year.   Major stage direction to me was not to scratch or move!

The instructors had chosen me to be a rock – obviously they needed a rock, or a placeholder for myself as a quiet student.   So I played the role of the rock, and the next year morphed into ‘the tree’ role.   Personally, I didn’t have any feelings about any of the roles being played out on stage for those performances – I was selected for the rock role, and I did my personal best to curl up in this grey sack and try not to scratch during the performance as directed.

In my whole career, I have never been selected in any competition I have tried out for.  That is just the way it was.   However, I did learn pretty quickly that if I wanted to do something, I had to make it happen on my own, outside of the ‘cattle-call’ format or the sport style try-outs for team positions.   As a result, I learned that I worked better and could be more successful in individual sports and in motivational roles.

Did I miss out on anything – don’t think so!


Linda Sweet M.S. Ed.

Founder and Director, Glenburnie School

Pre-School to Grade 8

Providing a progressive and innovative private school education