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musical version of You Get Proud by Practicing

Laura’s famous poem was set to music, and this version is sung by the Calliope Women’s Chorus who commissioned the work.

Listen here:

“You Get Proud by Practicing” words by Laura Hershey, music by Diane Benjamin

The lyrics are as follows:

You Get Proud by Practicing
Words, Laura Hershey
Music, Diane Benjamin

If you are not proud
For who you are, for what you say, for how you look;
If every time you stop
To think of yourself, you do not see yourself glowing
With golden light; do not, therefore, give up on yourself.
You can get proud.

You do not need
A better body, a purer spirit, or a Ph.D.
To be proud.
You do not need
A lot of money, a handsome boyfriend, or a nice car.
You do not need
To be able to walk, or see, or hear,
Or use big, complicated words,
Or do any of those things that you just can’t do
To be proud. A caseworker
Cannot make you proud,
Or a doctor.
You only need more practice.
You get proud by practicing.

There are many many ways to get proud.
You can try riding a horse, or skiing on one leg,
Or playing guitar,
And do well or not so well,
And be glad you tried
Either way.
You can show
Something you’ve made
To someone you respect
And be happy with it no matter
What they say.
You can say
What you think, though you know
Other people do not think the same way, and you can
keep saying it, even if they tell you
You are crazy.

You can add your voice
All night to the voices
Of a hundred and fifty others
In a circle
Around a jailhouse
Where your brothers and sisters are being held
For blocking buses with no lifts,
Or you can be one of the ones
Inside the jailhouse,
Knowing of the circle outside.
You can speak your love
To a friend
Without fear.
You can find someone who will listen to you
Without judging you or doubting you or being
Afraid of you
And let you hear yourself perhaps
For the very first time.
These are all ways
Of getting proud.
None of them
Are easy, but all of them
Are possible. You can do all of these things,
Or just one of them again and again.
You get proud
By practicing.

Power makes you proud, and power
Comes in many fine forms
Supple and rich as butterfly wings.
It is music
when you practice opening your mouth
And liking what you hear
Because it is the sound of your own
True voice.

It is sunlight
When you practice seeing
Strength and beauty in everyone,
Including yourself.
It is dance
when you practice knowing
That what you do
And the way you do it
Is the right way for you
And cannot be called wrong.
All these hold
More power than weapons or money
Or lies.
All these practices bring power, and power
Makes you proud.
You get proud
By practicing.

Remember, you weren’t the one
Who made you ashamed,
But you are the one
Who can make you proud.
Just practice,
Practice until you get proud, and once you are proud,
Keep practicing so you won’t forget.
You get proud
By practicing.

2 Comments on “musical version of You Get Proud by Practicing”

  1. #1 Jan
    on Dec 11th, 2010 at 9:03 pm


    You do not know me, but the first time I encountered Laura was on the Colorado Speech and Debate Circuit. I never met her until college when we were in the same graduating class and had a mutual friend. We took just one course together and even then I knew she was amazing. She was so smart and such a good writer, she had a passion and a strong sense of self that was unusual in people that young. She was the first person I ever encountered who pointed out the very dangerous message of the Jerry Lewis Telethons and their ilk. She gave me a new perspective on that issue that I have maintained to this day. Just a few years ago I encountered an introduction Laura wrote in a book I was reading and I decided to e-mail her. I was not sure if she would remember me, but she did and we had a nice exchange. We also became Facebook friends and I had the chance to see glimpses of her life. I am so glad she crossed my path. Please accept my heartfelt sorrow for your loss.

    Jan, The Colorado College Class of 1983

  2. #2 Deidre Hammon
    on Dec 17th, 2010 at 7:24 pm

    I never had the pleasure of meeting Laura face-to-face, but her poems and videos and life had such a positive impact on my life in Nevada which has -one hopes – had a positive impact on hundreds of others. I bless her for making this world a better place for my daughter, because she was willing to meet what most of us in the disability community understand to be the constant unending challenge to educate an ignorant and sometimes hostile world over and over and over again. I am grateful to her for teaching me that. Tear soup for Robin and Shannon, may the love and support of family, friends and time get you through this.

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