Sunday, Aug 11

Just Duet

Dear Political Diary,

I know that I've put you off badly for the past six weeks. There's been lots to comment on but I've been preoccupied doing the things which will get me elected. Still, today I did something noteworthy and it had nothing to do with politics.

When I was a teacher I used to tell my classes a couple of personal horror stories that my students could identify with. One had to do with the singular event which so humiliated me that I spent the next couple years making sure it would never happen again. It eventually resulted in my interest in politics. It took place in 9th grade when I was overcome by a panic attack while giving an oral book report. 

So when my daughter, Keely, showed a total indifference to panic at about the same age I stood in awe. In eighth grade she decided to perform at the Woodland Junior high School talent show with her friend Jenny. Keely would sing and Jenny would accompany her on a violin. It was an improbable duet and I went to see the show. 

The audience was any junior high teacher's worst nightmare. Not many teachers were in the auditorium and the kids were not on their best behavior. Most of the other talent had already taken place by the time my daughter took the stage. There was a mix up in the technical and there was no power for the microphone when Keely started singing . She sang, Jenny fiddled. The audience paid no attention. All I could do was marvel that my daughter had the guts to get up and sing in the first place. That she soldiered on without a sound system was admirable. That she did not let the audience phase her was inspiring.

Keely has since discovered her talent and her voice. She's thinking about attending a conservatory after college but her recent engagement may test that resolve. In any event, I decided a few months ago that I'd like to sing a duet with her at our church.

Nancy, our choir director, who has been giving me beginner piano lessons this summer suggested a spiritual. Keely has only sung one duet and we had no time to get together to practice until a week ago at my mother's house. We clambered upstairs to my sister's apartment and Claudia roughly banged out the song while we sang hideously and unsure of the melody. We could have struck dogs deaf.

Yesterday, Saturday, Nancy gave us a call that we were both waiting for and we went over to the church to rehearse. Keely practiced three tunes that she would be singing before today's service. Finally Nancy asked us if we were ready to rehearse our duet. This would take place during the actual service. 

Nancy worked with us for an hour as we tried to learn our harmonies. I begged her to find a way for me to sing one passage a little lower than the sheet music. I was going to sing the passage as a solo, my first ever. Of course, Nancy reassured us that we would sound just fine which both Keely and I could tell meant trouble.

We got up early today and practiced for about half an hour at home before going to church to practice with Nancy one last time. Nancy seemed to perk up and said, "you must have practiced."

I've always been convinced that most terrors were self generated. Singing with my daughter, like donating blood, required overcoming an obstacle that was stuck between my ears. I think people were genuine after words, when they complimented us. 

Friday, Saturday and Sunday I jettisoned my campaign to spend time with my family and sing with my daughter. She was the one who gave me confidence. She is fearless and she told me that one of her fondest memories of childhood was when I sang to her and her brother at bedtime. She told me to just sing like that and we'd be fine. In other words: just duet. We did.