Sunday, 15 January 2012

ABRSM music theory, singing exams and humming in one's sleep!

I think that this week we have seen evidence to suggest that (as many of you have probably already suspected), I am now in urgent need of some sort of therapy. Why so? Well, several days ago, my wife reported strange events during the course of the previous night! In the early hours, Ruth was woken by a strange humming. A passing aeroplane? A car outside the house with the engine running (we get a lot of those - really annoying)? No, it was nothing like that. This was apparently quite tuneful. No dear friends, t'was I. Yours truly was actually humming in his sleep! Ruth sadly, was unable to 'Name That Tune', but if I was a betting man, I'd put money on it being one of the songs I need to learn for an event in March (to be exclusively revealed below). Whatever it was, I am at least reassured that it was reasonably melodic. Ruth actually asked me whether I was awake and I apparently responded with "Yes". Alas, I have no recollection of this at all. Nurse, the straight-jacket!?!

Anyway, not to worry. New Year means a new set of goals.  After the hectic run-up to the festive period, it would be tempting to put my feet up for a while, at least until the next concert at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton on January 28th?  Not a chance mate!

Ms Sharpe suggested over the Chrimbo break that I have a stab at an ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal School of Music) exam, some time in the summer maybe? She suggests leaping straight in at Grade 4!?! I suppose it is a huge compliment that she doesn't think I need to bother with Grades 1 to 3, but it will inevitably mean a lot of 'catch up', music theory wise. Therefore, music theory workbooks 1-4 plus 'The AB Guide to Music Theory -Part 1', were duly ordered and they arrived rapid style courtesy of good ol' Amazon. Then I find that the exam is likely to be a bit earlier in the year.
"Err, how much earlier", I ask?
"Arr, erm, . . . . . . . .  March"?
"The tail end of March I hope", says I.

So mid March it is then? That gives me about two months to learn to sing one song from each of three sets of pieces, plus my own choice of traditional/folk song. In the first group, the obvious choice had to be Caro mio Ben, as I'm already there or thereabouts with that one. In the next group Caroline picked out an interesting Schubert piece called An die Laute. As step-daughter Anna-Ruth is quick to confirm, I've never been the biggest fan of the german language in song, but I think that stems from a loathing I have for some Kiri Te Kanawa pieces on a CD set I have! Not good, but then, I don't care much for Ms Te Kanawa in truth. Anyway, it seems like a nice little song, so I'll give it a crack.

From the third group of songs from musicals, Caroline suggested a charming piece from Cinderella called Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?  Orr, how sweet! One to be practiced in front of my wife I think!

Finally, I need to choose a traditional folk song to sing unaccompanied (Yikes!?!). I hadn't a clue what to choose for this but thankfully Caroline suggested a song called Barb'ra Allen. Now, I immediately recognised this one as it features in one of my all time favourite films - Scrooge, the 1950's classic starring Alistair Sim. As a reformed Scrooge visits his nephew (I think?) after his meetings with the three ghosts, the family are all around the piano on Christmas Day, singing this song. An odd choice to feature in a Christmas film as it's actually quite a depressing tale. A quick 'Google' of the title reveals that there are about 600 versions of this song dating from the late 1600's. Some have only a few verses, others with over ten. Thankfully, I'm only expected to sing two, but the whole tale of Barb'ra Allen is quite an interesting one. I might just reveal the whole story in a later blog!

Meanwhile, the LMVC are on the run-up to the next concert at the Duchess Theatre, Long Eaton and I have my LMVC publicity duties to attend to - a task not helped by the fact that Long Eaton has neither a newspaper nor a radio station! Strange but true, so I'll need to investigate other avenues to try to ensure we have an audience in excess of one man and his wife! Nottingham? Or Derby? Or both?

Anyway, this gig will also feature the marvellous Enchanted. So with us chaps belting out some favourite classics plus a few newbies like Amarillo and Chris Hill's personal fave, the Carole Bayer Sager penned song, That's What Friends Are For, plus Enchanted's usual mix of gems, PLUS solo spots from the choir's own Lyndon Gardner, it is going to be cracking concert I think. Get your tickets NOW ladies and gents. It'll be worth the ticket price just to see the guys sporting brand new bow-ties and cummerbunds for part of the concert!

Blimey, I've not even mentioned the Caroline Sharpe Singers and our first rehearsal of the new year. Sorry, I've waffled on for long enough this time, so I'll fill you in on that next time - later this week, I promise!

Cheers for now,


  1. New Year, New Writings, New You, New Singing Challenges, New Studies, New Songs, New Beard, New Job (hopefully) ... but sameold wife ;-) who's still loving the blog, less so the humming in the early hours but there are worse things ... and at least it was melodic xxx

  2. I must get a ticket for that Long Eaton Concert - sounds as if I might enjoy it

  3. Oh yes, do get a ticket. I will reserve you the best position in the theatre - right in the middle, at the front ;-) Mind you, while Enchanted are singing, it might be appropriate for you to sit next to my wife?
    See you in Long Eaton.


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