Fall weather always brings a smile to my face. I was walking around near the local university in Karakol and a great memory came to mind. Some time ago when I was tutoring at a local university in Bishkek, I was asked to help the language faculty coordinate an event. I said yes before I knew all the conditions (oh poor, young naive Derrick). I was itching to help out the university in any way but I committed to something that was a bit more than I could handle. I was asked to sing.
Now singing is not a big deal. In Kyrgyzstan, at most events that I have been to, there is some form of singing involved. So I thought,”Ok, I can sing a song for a few people at a medium crowd event.” Boy, was I wrong (laughing in the depths of my soul here). The Director of the Foreign Languages Department asked me to sing at the school cultural event, celebrating William Shakespeare. This event sounded odd enough already. I have never celebrated anything remotely close to Shakespeare…well, maybe the “Ides of March.” They gave me the lyrics for the song I was to perform. It was the university anthem translated into English. I was in deep trouble. Here is what I had to do:
1) Sing the anthem, which was strangely translated.
2) Memorize 6 cadences.
3) Practice with a few student “backup” singers.
4) Prepare to perform in front of the ENTIRE SCHOOL.
5) Practice the 10,000 note, wide ranged school hymn in less than 2 days.
Now I was more than willing to pull an “Ashley Simpson” and just lip sync it all, but it would be impossible. I was nervous to the point of losing sleep and not eating. I needed to back out of this. Call me a weenie, but I just could not do it. I walked into the language office with my “tail between my legs” to break the bad news. I told the director that I would not be able to perform the song. “But you can speak English, and you are a musician,” she told me with the brightest look of shock on her face. “The style is too difficult and too different to learn in just 2 days,” I told her. Then a great idea came to mind. “I have a solution!” I exclaimed. I told her that I could sing my own song about Shakespeare. I have a band, I can make up great lyrics, and I could perform an original song for the school program. She seemed to like the idea, and gave me the chance to redeem myself.
Tune in next week for the conclusion of the story of our spectacular and embarrassing performance on the great stage of the Kyrgyz Economics University.