Sing! #SOL19 4/31

Where did this start? Do I blame the very enthusiastic gym teacher who came in and jokingly shamed the English Department into participating in Buskerfest? “It’s for a good cause,” he said. “Your department didn’t do anything last year.” But what should the English teachers do? Declaim poetry? Offer our services to write love letters? We are a bookish crowd, not well suited to busking.

Maybe I should lay the blame more firmly at the feet of my 75-year-old colleague, who has never met a crazy idea he didn’t want to try, and his partner-in-crime, a former drama teacher with a penchant for performance? Either way, when the Phys Ed teacher told us that the French department was singing French folk songs in the lobby, one of those two said that we would do karaoke. WE.

I had never actually done karaoke, though I’ve watched in awe as others sing with great enthusiasm in front of complete strangers. And, while I have been known to dance to the songs that play over the PA system before classes begin, I had certainly never done karaoke in front of my students and colleagues.

But here I stood, next to a jerry-rigged home karaoke machine in the middle of the main foyer, belting out “I Will Survive” in front of the principal, my laughing colleagues and an alarming number of students. I’ll admit, I was having fun, but I was also mortified.

Maybe my obvious combination of enthusiasm and embarrassment was just what the crowd needed: soon, one of my former students stood and joined me and my colleagues – a little vocal support or just wanting to be part of the fun? I’ll never know. As we finished, two more students, both new to our school and struggling to fit in, were at the mic, and the student who had joined me, joined them. Next, a quiet grade 9 student offered up an Ariana Grande song (“It’s the clean version, Miss,” she whispered, just before she took the mic and sang to the crowd). More and more people came – another teacher, some dance students – and my personal favourite: one of our students with a physical disability sang Shawn Mendes’s “It’s In My Blood” from his wheelchair as an EA held the mic. His delivery of the lines “Sometimes I feel like giving up/ But I just can’t/ It isn’t in my blood” sent shivers down my spine.

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Shawn Mendes had better look out!

In the end, the English Department karaoke busking raised $123.65 during that lunch – but what it really did, somehow, was give everyone a place to sing. It’s the first time I’ve ever really understood karaoke, and I’m already thinking about a song for next year.

 

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16 thoughts on “Sing! #SOL19 4/31

  1. A lovely event, as seen and heard from the shadowed sidelines!
    A metaphoric testament to the high wire act (without a net) with which English teachers challenge themselves on a daily basis. Courage, love and no little positive impact on the lives of the participants and witnesses.

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  2. This is awesome! I love that your colleagues are busy saying “yes!” and you are ready to wholeheartedly go along with the antics. I’m sure your students loved this and kudos to all those who got up and participated. For some reason that “It’s the clean version, Miss” comment really got me. Loved this!

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    1. That comment made me laugh, too – and she is a tiny little thing who rarely speaks. Wish I could have posted pictures of them all but I was too busy blushing to take many pictures!

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  3. We have a faculty talent show for Make a Wish every year, but I have never prepared anything for it, even though I have a drama background. I thought about it this year, but the dang thing is tomorrow night. Neither students nor our staff really know about my theater “bona fides.” I think a lot of hidden “talent” (willingness and ability to humiliate ourselves for teens) goes untapped. It’s a shame. You picked the perfect song, and you lived up to its title. It’s my burning desire to sing “I am Woman” to an adoring crowd. Maybe you could do that for me as my surrogate!

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  4. I had to look up busking! What fun. It seems like this brought everyone out of their shell. I give you a lot of credit… I shy away from performing and the spotlight! I’m sure the kids loved seeing you in this light!

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  5. I was laughing throughout this piece (and did a little bit of wincing too!) These co-workers of yours! “75-year-old colleague, who has never met a crazy idea he didn’t want to try, and his partner-in-crime, a former drama teacher with a penchant for performance?” What’s not to love. Sometimes those things we’re FORCED into doing bring on a whole different kind of joy. I’m expecting your next post to be about your night at the Karaoke bar…

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      1. Haha! Oh my god. You have not heard my singing voice. I’m trying to manifest the voice that once got me into the school choir years ago (although I’m pretty sure the teacher just felt sorry for me).

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  6. Such an amazing post, well done for taking part and thus encouraging others to do the same. I quite understand your comment about it being the first time you’ve ever understood karaoke, because what you wrote makes so much sense!!

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