Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sheep, frogs and a bunch of tenors.

Hallelujah! with my dear laptop now successfully upgraded from the nightmarish Windows 8 to Windows 10, I can now set about writing another blog. Finding time to do this has become increasingly important as 'my public', (well, Norman H actually), have become increasingly demanding.
Any road, as we say in Bolton, I have been reflecting lately about why I persist with this singing lark and what I actually gain from it. Regular readers will be aware of the pain and torture I endured just to get to the point of being able to stand in front of the audience and produce a vaguely acceptable noise. Several years on and the torture pre-performance hasn't really got any easier but the standard of performance has improved. At least I think so. But, the increased self-confidence that being able to do this has given me has been immense. I think I've changed as a human being as a consequence - less the shy retiring introvert and more able to speak up and fight for myself and my family.
But overall, I sing for fun. As I've often said, if it stops being fun, what is the point? Caroline has pointed out to all the Caroline Sharpe Singers in an email recently, the importance of just enjoying a concert and how forgetting a few words ain't no disaster! "If you forget the words, just sing la-la-la with conviction". Absolutely.
Before my first ever public performance in November 2011 when I was at the point of bottling out, Chris Hill said to me "what's the worst that can happen - you just feel a little foolish"? It has taken me about five years to see he was absolutely right. Messing up the words has always seemed to me to be the most humiliating catastrophe and if you take that attitude with you onto the 'stage', you are almost guaranteed a nervous, stilted performance.
Last month during my Fat Bottomed Girls performance at the Purple Angels. Dementia UK gig, I got something horribly wrong and starting singing 'Oh....' on my own. As I described in an earlier blog, Ruth laughed, causing me to laugh and that was that. It mattered nowt. Nobody remembers the minor faux pas, just the overall light hearted performance.
As well as the concert performances, rehearsals need to be fun too. The role of the MD is obviously important in this respect and I've sung under two fabulous MDs in Chris Hill (LMVC) and Caroline (CSS).  For CSS, Caroline is happy for pretty much anyone to come along and contribute whatever they can contribute as often as they are able to. And we have some fun. Oh boy, do we have some fun! We tenors have had, let me say, one or two difficulties recently, of which everyone in CSS will be aware. Ave Verum Corpus was for us, err, challenging? Let All the World in Every Corner Sing is bordering on tenor abuse in my book, but we are getting there. Slowly?
But, we have one hell of a laugh in doing so. Norman Hockley, Mark Astil, Shaun Oldale, Sid and myself have a cracking rapport and we kind of bounce off each other, helping each other through the tricky bits.
Norman however, seems to have sussed out my sense of humour and maybe this isn't a good thing. During last Saturday's rehearsal, he and Mark made me crack up to the point where I could barely sing! Mark, who hasn't been able to come in recent weeks due I think to it being the lambing season (he be a farmer you see!) heard his phone go off soon after the start, and Norman said something like "I think it was one of his sheep, I could hear it going 'baaaah'"!
When he came back, Norman asked " who was that Mark"?
"Baaaaaaaaa-bra" replied Mark, quick as a flash!
Well, it cracked me up, but I guess I'm easily amused. Mad as a bucket of frogs, but we ain't alone in CSS. The ladies have their share of crazy frogs, mentioning no names of course! ;-)
So yes, 'fun' is the key behind my singing and which if I'm honest, I wasn't getting in the Loughborough Male Voice Choir anymore, so was the natural choice to finish when I realised I had to give up something in my life to reduce my load. The Belvoir Wassailers are a choir that clearly have  fun when they sing. While being nowhere near to the standard of the LMVC, they clearly enjoy their singing as it comes across in their performance. The LMVC perform very professionally and sing beautifully, but the fun and enjoyment of singing doesn't often come across in their performances. I would love them to do more 'Amarillo' type pieces and really let themselves go, but that's just my personal wish for them as a choir.
For me, I will continue as long as it is F. U. N !
Cheers for now,