Friday, 24 June 2011

Singing lessons, scarecrows and the 'Bolton Bullfrog'

A couple of weeks have passed since my last post which means a few more rehearsals and singing lessons under the belt too. Varying degrees of success have been experienced in each, which I suppose is to be expected. My first half hours singing-lesson-birthday-present courtesy of sis-in-law Julia was, well, a bit rubbish! Not the lesson, but rather what I produced during the course of it!

Perhaps I'm being a bit over critical of myself (again?) but it did feel as though every note I produced was way off and all over the place. Having said that, I was tackling Italian for the first time ever in the form of Caro mio Ben. But also, with the benefit of hindsight, I had just finished an extremely stressful day's work on the A46 and as I approached the lesson I felt more like punching someone rather than singing to be honest. That said, matters weren't helped by regular interruptions from a variety of people wanting to retreive their scarecrows (it's best not to ask -really!) from the room we were trying to conduct the singing lesson in. And then, the room's door handle repeatedly fell off requiring an explanation and reassurance to the shame faced individuals that no, they hadn't broken it, it just needed repairing! After about the fourth time, I think I had given up any hope of mastering 'Caro' for that week! Stress and singing do not make comfortable bed fellows I find!

Anyway, the next two lessons with Caroline have been much better. I'm determined to relax more and just enjoy it regardless of how good, bad or indifferent I feel I'm doing. The most recent lesson was great in that respect. Some bits were good, some undoubtedly baaaad, and some pretty darned ordinary. But it was fun and that's what it should be all about. Sadly 'Peter Kay' reappeared at one point. It's them vowels again, you see. This time I was trying Handel's Where 'ere You Walk in which the second line reads 'Cool gales shall fan the glade'. I still have that tendency to sing things as I would say them, which does not sound good when you throw in the Boltonian accent. Come to think of it, I probably sound more like the legendary (in Bolton at least) Bernard Wrigley a.k.a 'The Bolton Bullfrog', a splendid singer who really does sound like a singing frog. Honestly, he really does! Anyway, I digress. . . .

As each singing lesson passes there's a bit more to try and remember such as: relax, watch those vowels, don't lean back when approaching high notes, relax, open the mouth wide like you're yawning, remember to breathe (always helps!), relax, stomach in, chest out. . .  . or was it the other way round? Blimey, so much to remember! Not easy, this singing lark is it?

Meanwhile, back in the Male Voice Choir, preparation continues apace for the LOROS gig at De Montfort Hall, Leicester in October. John Holt was giving me the run-down on what to expect and it sounds really exciting. Our choir will be singing with several other choirs from Leicester and one from Wales I believe to make one huge, massed male voice choir! Should be absolutely awesome if we pull it off.

Preparation for this means just refreshing the memory of some old favourites for most of the chaps, but for me it's another crash course. So rather than putting my feet up over the summer break, I will try to make Thursday evenings a regular rehearsal night to get the required songs into my tired old brain in time for October. One song to learn is the classic 'My Way'. After running through it last night, I'd never realised what a thoroughly depressing dirge it really is! Still, I'm sure I can ignore the somewhat banal lyrics and just sing it with passion!

Until next time,

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Reach for the stars

I very often find myself completely in awe of genuine talent. Not that there was much of it on show on 'Britain's Got Talent' last Saturday night. With the possible exception perhaps of a truly gifted pianist/composer, and a young boy already unfairly tagged with the unfortunate label 'the new Justin Bieber'. The winner of the competition was okay, but nothing special, I thought.

However, Knightthorpe Methodist Church, at roughly the same time as the aforementioned telly programme, was positively overflowing with talent! Those that managed to drag themselves away from the scintillating spectacle of a singing dog (gawd 'elp us!), were treated to a quite superb evenings entertainment provided by Enchanted and Loughborough Male Voice Choir's very own Chris Hill, to mark the Churches Flower Festival.

Listening to the girl's varied programme of folk songs, operatic and musical theatre numbers, one couldn't help but wonder what 'The Hoff', Michael MacIntyre, Amanda Holden and a certain Mr Cowell would've made of them and Chris Hill's Beatles medley too! Armed with just a list of Beatles song titles, Chris seems to simply make it up as he goes along, seamlessly blending together about ten of the band's all time classics. Astonishing stuff!

The last Loughborough Male Voice Choir rehearsal turned out to be a bit of a confidence boost as we went through the vocal minefield that is Amarillo. When Chris said "second tenors please" for once, I just 'went for it'. All us second tenors have struggled with this piece, as has the whole choir really, but it's coming - slowly. I got through the relevant section completely and to me at least, it sounded in tune and reasonably okay. Mind you, a little later on I got a little over-confident, went for it again but started about an octave too high! Whoops! Thankfully, I didn't allow that little embarrassment to crush my fragile confidence and I soon got back on track.

Chris has just sent through the draft programme for the LOROS Concert in October and it looks like a whole heap of new parts for me to learn. Of the thirteen pieces, 8 are from the choirs existing library but there's only one I've touched on so far - and its my favourite (?), When the Saints. Nice! Add to this five new pieces and it looks like a busy summer for yours truly.

Meanwhile, I'm trying to master Giordani's Caro Mio Ben in order to stun and amaze Caroline at my next lesson! A few evenings ago I found that our loo has strangely good acousticsI It's the one place in the house where I can hear my own singing voice nice and clearly, so this could become my regular practice venue. Mind you, that might prove a touch 'inconvenient' for the rest of the family!!! Ho-ho!

Until next time.