Sunday, 24 February 2008

I was a musician once

Once upon a time, I was a musician. I did singing exams. I could count my way through hundreds of bars of music, take my pitch from a note played by the violins and come in right on cue. You know that difficult note in the middle, I was the one who pitched it for the rest of my vocal section. I was good - not soloist material but a damn good chorister.

Today, I had to confront how far I have fallen. Today was my audition for the choral society. I sang "Hopelessly devoted to you" badly, struggled to pitch some scales and couldn't hold 3 B's in a row for the sight singing test. My voice was all over the place. Basically, I had to beg for a place in the choir. I'm in; I'm down for Second Soprano (once upon a time, I sang first - even though I'm naturally a mezzo soprano, I stretched my upper register to hit the high notes).

I have to work on my voice and my musicianship. I have to relearn how to count music, how to feel the beats in the bar. My top notes have vanished. Even my breathing is screwed - my capacity to support my voice gets exhausted after half an hour.

Singing lessons would be good but aren't in the budget right now; the only singing teacher I know doesn't play the piano either, so you have to pay for both her and an accompanist. My big problem is that I'm not a pianist. I have a piano thanks to Kim and I can pick out a few notes, but I can't play and I can't accompany myself. I need help. The internet is a great resource, but there are huge gaps in what you can do with it. I know websites where you can download sheet music and players that will accompany your practice (e.g.; I know websites where you can buy backing tracks but what I don't know is where I can get scales that I can read and sing along to while they're being played. All suggestions gratefully received.

- Pam


amy said...

I have no suggestions--you wouldn't want to hear me sing, trust me!--but I wanted to say congratulations on making the choir. It sounds like a positive first step to getting back to something you enjoy so much.

Jan said...

I found a couple:

Honestly and truly the best thing for improving your voice is to just sing. Sing along to the radio -- really sing, don't just kinda hum. Go Christmas caroling. Get a CD of music that inspires you and sing it over and over. Think of your voice like a muscle -- you have to work it to get it stronger.

Learning theory helps a lot with sight singing and reading and understanding music. So does learning to play piano even a tiny little bit.

I learned little memory devices for the intervals away back when. Some you probably already know ("Here Comes the Bride" for a fourth, for example) and some might not help you much ("N-B-C" is how I remember a sixth). Ask your fellow singers about those -- I'll bet everybody's got little tricks they can recommend.

Congrats on getting in! Enjoy!