Saturday, 11 February 2012

Aural tests and singing unaccompanied

The singing I don't have a problem with. Learning the words and remembering them on the day is a challenge, but I can cope with that. Even the German is sinking in, though the pronunciation might need a little further work. No, what bothers me a bit is the aural tests and the sight reading. Caroline assures me I am quite good at sight reading, but I don't feel quite so confident.

Getting the pitch instantly right I find a bit tricky at times and the leaps from a low note to a higher one particularly so. But, a little exercise I've been given should help. Practice, practice, practice! Caroline sent me several links to some websites (see the links in the right hand column of this blog) which should help, though I did find myself arguing with the aural test site. I think I disagreed with what constitutes 'smooth notes' at one point.

My latest singing lesson included a first attempt at singing Barb'ra Allen unaccompanied. Oh Lord! I hadn't thought about it before, but being given a starting note and told to just 'sing' is strangely scary. To be quite honest I felt like I was standing naked on top of Rivington Pike on a cold windy day! For those not familiar with the aforementioned Pike, it is a hill of relatively modest size near Bolton but on the top of it one feels horribly exposed and invariably subjected to a biting cold wind. Well, that's what singing unaccompanied feels like to me at any rate. It's strangely comforting to have an accompanist at your side and I hadn't realised just how much until last Wednesday.

Meanwhile, I have at last found a useful rendition of Barb'ra Allen to listen to on Spotify (a music application linked to Facebook). There are hundreds of versions of the song, but I've only found one as per the version Caroline has given to me and it is by a counter-tenor called Alfred Deller. I'm really not too sure about counter-tenors. The vocal sound is quite impressive, but it just doesn't 'look' right somehow - a big hefty bloke singing with a high pitched voice? I suppose it's just not 'the norm'. I guess I just need to listen to a bit more of the counter-tenor voice of Mr Dellor and perhaps Andreas Scholl, another such singer of some repute.

This morning (Sat. 11th) brought another Caroline Sharpe Singers rehearsal and when Ruth, Anna-Ruth and I arrived (a tad late due to Poppy walking duties and Trinity parking issues) we were confronted by a packed room. Crikey, the way things are going, we'll need a bigger practice venue! If everyone turned up there would about twenty members now I think. So it would seem the key to recruitment for us chaps in the male voice choir is for each member to persuade family, friends and neighbours to come along. Sounds easy?

During this rehearsal I had the job of 'poking' newbie Paul, should he feel tempted to drop an octave! Let's just say after the first run-through of I Believe, Paul may well be somewhat bruised in the upper arm! But it seemed to work and he sang with more confidence second time, so much so that Caroline is now thinking of adopting the 'poke therapy' in her lessons. Be warned!

Anyway, lots of homework is now required for both CSS and for my upcoming exam. Next Friday will be my first exam rehearsal with the accompanist Nest Harris. I'm not panicking, really, I'm not.    Eeeeeck!?!

Cheers for now,

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