Saturday, 3 March 2012

Caution: Exam approaching!

I never thought writing a blog would become such a responsibility! To receive a message from Neal Chantrill asking what’s happened to this week’s blog was a surprise as I had never thought I would get to a point where readers were actually waiting for the next post. I suppose it must mean that I’m doing something right and that this idle banter is actually worth reading.

I do aim to post something at least weekly providing there’s something worth saying of course, otherwise things would get very dull. But ‘life’ has the habit of getting in the way of things all too often as me, Ruth and the girls end up rushing around Loughborough like headless chickens, engaged in our various multitude of pursuits, leaving precious little time for writing. Whatever one may say about our life, it certainly isn’t dull.

So where were we? Oh yes, Grade 4 singing exam which is now less than two weeks off. Really? No, it can’t be surely? When Caroline actually said that last Wednesday, I suddenly realised she was right, which was momentarily frightening. So how is it looking, or rather, sounding? Well, my own personal assessment (Caroline’s may differ somewhat!) is that Caro Mio Ben should be fine barring a total brain seizure. As it’s the first up, I am likely to be at my most nervous, but I know this one well enough so it should be fine. My second piece, An die Laute should also be okay. I know all the words, but have a nasty tendency to juggle the lines up a bit. A line from verse one has the habit of popping up in verse two. I will sing all the right lines, but not necessarily in the right order as Eric Morecambe might’ve said.

Thirdly, Do I Love you Because You’re Beautiful is easy-peasy, but there lies the danger I think. I must rehearse this properly too and make sure I do a decent job. Sis-in-law Julia who listened in on a recent lesson of mine said that she ‘almost’ got that ‘hair on the back of neck’ thing when I sang it. Almost but not quite, so I guess there’s room for improvement then?

Finally, there is the unaccompanied folk song, Barb’ra Allen. Sigh! I’m still feeling like I’m on the top of Rivington Pike, but at least I’m clothed now and just a little chilly rather than hypothermic. It’s coming – slowly. The story in this one needs to be ‘told’, but it’s remembering the damned words. But a fortnight of repetitive listening and singing will hammer it home, I hope. Goodness knows how those poor X-Factor wannabees cope at ‘boot camp’ when they are given a song to learn overnight. I’d be useless!

Then after all that, it’s the sight reading and aural tests. Caroline assures me that I’m okay at sight reading, providing I carry on and sing what I think as I’m usually right. But I’m so unsure of myself that I hesitate and it all goes belly-up from there on. The repetition of a short piece and clapping out a rhythm is fine. Commenting on the ‘dynamics’, rhythm and tone of a piece though is not as easy as it seems and I forget to use Italian. Saying ‘very loud’ in an Italian accent will not do apparently!  When I’ve got my exam out of the way, it will then be the turn of my wife to have a go. Oh yes, it had to come. Ruth has just started having lessons with Caroline, so it’s only right and proper that she should try an exam! And a solo in the November concert too perhaps? ;-)

Meanwhile, back in the Loughborough Male Voice Choir, Chris Hill has unearthed the ‘New Amarillo’. Readers will remember the tales of our prolonged agony while we all toiled for week after week, trying to get to grips with it. Well, Mr Hill has produced his very own arrangement of a favourite of his, You’ve Got a Friend. At this Thursday’s rehearsal when us tenors and the bass/baritones had separate sessions initially, the common consensus was that this one was a ‘rhythmic nightmare’. Let’s just say it is a ‘challenge’. But hey, we mastered Amarillo eventually and will master this one too, you just see if we don’t.


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