When Liv Brereton was in Grade Six she sang in her first public performance.

“It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, I was so nervous,” she said. “And when it was over, some other student told me it was ‘crap’. I carried that comment for years.”

Later this year, Liv will perform solo at the Victorian State Schools Spectacular—an all-singing, all-dancing, sound and light show of truly spectacular proportions. After two years in the chorus she was determined to step up this year.

“I started rehearsing as soon as last year finished,” she said. “Through the Spectaculars I’ve developed so much. I’ve made friends I will have for life.”

Singing is a major focus for Liv. Her subject selection at BSSC reflects her love of the stage: Music Performance and Theatre Studies. Her other choices are also based on enjoyment—Psychology, Health & Human Development, English—and she does not need an ATAR for her tertiary studies which she hopes will be at one of the performing arts colleges/schools where it’s all about the audition.

“My dream future would be with a travelling musical,” she said. “But there are so many options for singers. For now, I’m rehearsing for the Spectacular every weekend, having singing lessons with my fantastic vocal teacher, Adam Lyon, and participating with my 7 -10 college in BSE’s Academy for Performing Arts program.”

While music plays a huge part in Liv’s world, family is also the source of great happiness.

“When I’m with my family is when I laugh the most,” she said. “You would hate to sit at the table next to us in a restaurant! We all have the same, quirky sense of humour… it’s wild!”

But life has not been that funny at times over the last couple of years. Liv has struggled with serious mental health issues and reflects now that she has learnt a great deal from her experiences.

“The most important thing I’ve realised is to not worry what other people think,” she said. “If they judge your mental health problems or are jealous—like that Grade Six kid must have been— don’t get stuck by negative comments.

“I’m more confident in my identity and although I get fewer criticisms, I’ve decided that, in the end, they are a bonus! Clearly I have the guts to get up and perform, or be open about the problems I have dealt with—and someone has noticed.”

These days, Liv is getting feedback from people whose opinions mean a great deal to her, and believes that listening to the voices that matter—people who care about who you are and what you’re doing—is the way to grow.

“If I could go back and give my 12 year-old self some advice, I would say: ‘Just be confident in yourself. You will figure out your place in the world. Don’t stress. Focus on what you are doing right now’.”

And right now Liv is in Year 11 at BSSC and loving the independence and freedom.

“There is so much trust that students are given at this college. I think people rise to such expectations and become more trustworthy.”