Friday, 18 March 2011

The first of many or maybe never again?

What on earth am I doing?

That was my only thought as I arrived at Trinity Methodist Church on Saturday 5th of March for my first singing lesson with Caroline. It had seemed like a good idea until the time came to stand up and make a noise. For some reason, trying to sing in the company of someone who has such a phenomenal talent for the art herself, is rather daunting.

Caroline has an incredible voice. In fact I don't think Caroline herself quite appreciates just how good she is. I may not be an expert of music and operatic singing, but I have enjoyed opera for quite a few years since the BBC made 'Nesson Dorma', sung by the legendary Luciano Pavarotti, their theme tune to the 1990 World Cup. So I do know what is good and what isn't. Caroline is good. Very good!

"Right", says Caroline, "let's try some scales". Now, what should have been fairly straight forward was made all the more challenging by a throat full of mucous clogging up the vocal chords. Sorry - too much information? Mentioning this fact sounded to me like I was trying to make my excuses good and early. In truth, I really wasn't sure if anything at all was going to eminate from my mouth other than the aforementioned mucous. Urgh! Sorry again! To my relief, in response to Caroline's note on the piano, there followed a scale of tentatively sung 'lah-lah-lahs' that sounded vaguely in tune, rapidly followed by another scale, after a slightly higher note from the piano. And on we went. And on! Blimey, things seemed to be getting very high until there came a point when everything crumbled and my voice seemed to shatter onto the floor like a broken wine glass.

The area that I reached when things went 'pear-shaped' was around 'tenor' level. I was also struggling at the lower end of 'bass' too, so Caroline was of the opinion that baritone should be comfortable, but maybe even second tenor would be possible with improved technique, so that was food for thought. I understand from my wife Ruth, that Caroline is very selective about who she is prepared to teach. Basically, if you are not up to it, forget it matey! So to be told that I have a surprisingly good range, actually sang in tune and can sight read very well, was an enormous 'shot in the arm'.

This huge confidence boost has led to quite ridiculous thoughts entering my head. I now want to sing like Nat King Cole! 'LOL', as Amy would say! My copy of 'The Best of Nat King Cole' has been in the car CD player ever since. However, to give myself a reality check, I remind myself of some words uttered by a certain Simon Cowell to one X-Factor wannabee some time ago: "If you are going to take on an icon, you've got to do it well". Hmmm...?

Time then to get to work on that dodgy technique and the almost laughable inability to breathe in the right places. I'm afraid I will inevitably approach singing like I do other things that I try to do, i.e. if I'm going to do it, I want to do it as well as I can. This I think will require regular lessons with Caroline and if you are reading this Caz, I couldn't possibly accept your time and wisdom merely in return for two rolls of 'poop bags' and a packet of 'mini bones' for Poppy each week. Poppy may disagree mind you!

Anyway, financial matters aside, I am really quite excited about learning to sing properly after all these years. The list of upcoming 'gigs' that the Loughborough Male Voice Choir have lined up is growing and it will take a bit of work to get me 'up to speed' as it were. The concert with the Stevenage Ladies Choir on April 9th may come a bit too soon, but I can maybe realistically aim for Sunday 29th May for 'singing in Queens Park, Loughborough. Miss it at your peril!

Cheers for now,

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