Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Key (02/14/13)
TITLE: The Boy Can Sign
By Phee Paradise
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Anne frowned. “Really, Shannon? Auditions? They’re children, not professional singers.”
Melissa turned around on the piano bench to ask, “Who’s going to tell his mother when Andy fails the audition?”
Shannon shrugged. “I guess I will. I’m the choir director.”
Melissa glanced at Anne. “You weren’t part of the Home School War, were you?
“What do you mean?”
“Last year the teachers asked if we could place kids in Sunday School by age, because the home school kids are pushed up so much. I had Andy’s six year old sister in my third grade class. She couldn’t read as well as her mom thought, and it wasn’t fair to the other kids. But the parents had a fit over the change, especially Mrs. Jacobs.”
“This is different. The kids have to be able to sing.”
Melissa turned back to the piano, “It’s your funeral.” Anne didn’t say anything. After all, Shannon was the choir director.
On Sunday morning Shannon became more determined than ever to hold auditions. The Jacobs family filed into the row in front of her as the music started. All five children sang enthusiastically, but Andy was loudest. From past experience Shannon knew that everyone in the sanctuary could hear him sing with great joy, and very off key. After the service, Mrs. Jacobs turned to greet Shannon. Before she said anything, Andy asked with a grin, “Did you hear me singing, Miss Pike? I sing good don’t I? I’m going to be in the children’s choir.”
“Sing well,” his mother corrected and rumpled his blond hair. “The children are so excited about the choir,” she said to Shannon. “We appreciate your willingness to do this for them. It will complement what they’re learning at home.”
Shannon mumbled something and hurried down the aisle. If she’s such a good mother and teacher, why isn’t she teaching them to sing on key?
The five Jacobs children were the first to arrive for the audition. They walked into the children’s church room behind their mother and sat in the first row. Andy bounced in his seat. When all the children had arrived, Shannon prayed and then explained that they would sing Jesus Loves Me together to warm up. Then she would have each child sing alone. Andy’s hand shot up and waved.
“Can I go first?”
“Sure.” She might as well get him over with.
Melissa sat at the piano and Anne lined the kids up facing their parents. Of course Andy sang the loudest. His mother beamed. Shannon cringed. Anne frowned at Shannon.
“Okay, Andy. Go stand by the piano. You’re going to just sing the chorus. Ready?”
He was ready. No choir director in church history would have recognized that tune. But he sang with gusto and even signed the words as he sang. When he finished his whole family clapped. Before Shannon could say anything, Anne jumped in.
“What a good idea to sign the words, Andy.” He beamed and returned to his seat. His siblings could actually carry a tune and the rest of the children weren’t too bad either. Shannon was confident she could teach them some nice pieces. All except Andy.
After the last child, Shannon took a breath and walked over to Andy’s mother. Might as well get it over with. But Anne got there first. Shannon stood flabbergasted when she stepped in front of her and spoke to Mrs. Jacobs.
“It’s so clever of you to teach Andy to sign. I suppose it’s one of the many advantages of home schooling. You know, it would add so much to our program if we had a sign interpreter whenever the kids sing. Do you think Andy would be willing to do that for us?”
Mrs. Jacobs looked at her son. “I think he would love to do that. He’s so proud of his signing.”
“Wonderful.” Anne turned to Shannon. “Are you going to announce the first practice?”
For days, Shannon wondered what had happened. I thought I was the choir director. But how could she complain? Andy came to every practice, but didn’t sing a word. Anne worked with him while the other children learned the music. Their first performance was during a Sunday service and the congregation loved it. But the boy who signed the words stole the show.
Everyone knew he couldn’t sing, but the boy could sign.
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