To begin with I didn’t know who should be more afraid: my brother and I because of the embarrassment we knew was coming, or the little Ukrainian instructor because of the fact that neither my brother nor I could carry a tune in a bucket.
So there we were. I stared at my reflection in the mirror, took a deep breath and began singing the only thing I knew how: Ukrainian Christmas carols. As soon as I started “singing”, the 5-foot lady standing at my chest reached her hands up, grasped my throat, and began twisting my neck about. During this time I was expected to keep singing. At this point I could not tell whether this lady was trained in chiropractic medicine or singing. I was relieved when she told me to rest, as I was sure I was just one more jolt of the neck away from whiplash.
Things escalated when she called on my brother to sing. She stood under him, his neck writhing with the movement of her hands. When that wasn’t enough, she abandoned his neck and went for his arms – my brother the puppet, and her the puppeteer. She worked hard and fast, moving his arms this way and that, trying to pump the right notes out of his body. Alas, it was still not enough so her next technique was to have him look me straight in the eyes whilst singing; as if the face of his sister would be enough to relax his vocal cords. That’s where it all fell apart: my brother and I locked eyes and shared a moment of “how did we end up in this situation”. Our laughter could not be retained as we understood that our singing lesson was over, and that we were truly beyond the help of any vocal coach. Like I mentioned – there’s a reason why my brother and I are dancers and not singers!