My best teacher - Melanie C

20th February 2009 at 00:00
Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney helped a music teacher to inspire this Spice Girl

I was a good girl at school. I was never a troublemaker; I liked to keep my head down and get on with my work. There were too many after-school activities and I would rather just get through the day and then do things such as netball, drama and hockey. I did something every night after school, and on Saturday I danced and went to a gymnastic club so I was out all day.

I went to Fairfield High School in Widnes. It always had great sports facilities, although I think there have been a lot of improvements since I was there, and there was a drama studio. The arts and sports were strong, and that is why I enjoyed it.

Janet Whittingham was a music teacher and conducted the choir. I think she was still at Fairfield until quite recently. She was quite young when I was there, and quite glamorous, and she always used to make us laugh, so we had a lot of fun. She looked cool and fashionable, her nails always looked good and she liked to look after herself. There were a lot of jokes and it was light-hearted, but she was strict as well - we didn't want to cross the line with her.

I loved the choir. It is obviously a different kind of singing from what I do now, but I have always loved singing. We used to do cool songs, rather than stuffy ones, a lot of current pop hits. It was around the time Paul McCartney had some solo hits and I remember doing "No More Lonely Nights" and "Say, Say, Say", his duet with Michael Jackson. Mrs Whittingham was encouraging and she was someone you respected and who gave you confidence.

It was through activities and interests that me and my school buddies became as close as we were, and carried on our friendships as adults. My best school friends that I still see are the friends I was in choir and dancing with. We used to spend breaktimes and lunchtimes working on choreography or a new song. My dream was always to be a recording artist, but when I was at school I was looking more towards the dance side of things, and the singing and acting at school helped towards that.

My first taste of being on stage was at junior school, when I was Gretel in Hansel and Gretel. I didn't expect to get the lead role and I was shocked. From that moment I thought "I quite like this". But in the high school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat I was a wheatsheaf, so I started at the bottom. There was always something to work towards and I'm like that now. Whether it's a new song or an album or a tour, I'm happiest when I have a goal to work towards.

The choir used to perform at school and in church, and we used to do plays in church as well. It's funny when you think back, as a teenager you become self-conscious but we got up there and did silly plays that we'd made up. It was good to have that confidence growing up.

I did GCSE music, but I didn't have Mrs Whittingham for that. It was boring because it was about reading music and learning about time signatures. I preferred the practical side of it.

Melanie Chisholm, 35, had nine number one singles and two number one albums with the Spice Girls and two number one singles as a solo artist. She is appearing as a guest presenter on 'Bookaboo', a new storytelling programme, on CITV on March 17. She was talking to Nick Morrison.

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