January 29, 2014

On making singing-like noises.


Back before Christmas—back before Peter’s stroke*—I had taken one of those erratic Leaps Forward in my voice lessons that anyone who keeps slogging at anything will eventually take, even if it’s perceptible only to the slogger and her teacher.**  I must have blogged about this before.  And I thought, in one of those vague self-improvement spasms that afflict most of us, that I should find that little recording doohickey that Peter gave me for my birthday years ago . . . I think to enhance my piano-lesson experience (hahahahahaha) rather than my voice-lesson experience (HAHAHAHAHAHAHA) . . . and employ the freller.  I did manage to take it along to Nadia once or twice quite a while ago—I think before she went on maternity leave for Renfrew—but playback, despite the advantage of being able to hear EXACTLY what Nadia had said, was so depressing that I gave it up.

And then Peter did have his stroke, and my focus, concentration and energy levels have gone a bit phut generally.  Although I’m certainly singing I’m singing for sanity as much as for any sense of working toward that distant mythic goal of finding and being accepted by a nice-ish choir.***  Only in the process of trying to clear out some of the accumulation around the piano at the mews so that I can shoehorn a little more of the overflow from Third House† there instead . . . I discovered the little recording doohickey.  And I got Raphael to remind me how to USE IT, since it is yet another of these flapdoodling overspecified pieces of ooh-shiny tech . . . all I want is an on and off switch.  And a method of getting batteries in and out that does not involve a mini-screwdriver whose shaft is the approximate diameter of a hummingbird’s tongue.  Gaaah.

. . . And at this point I am going to start what may be a horrifying new tradition, and declare TO BE CONTINUED††.  We went to Tabitha again this afternoon and my brains feel pummelled.  Also, this compromising with Peter about the time at which things happen—things like when I pick him up after the daily shopping excursion, since in fact he’s only comfortable walking one way—is a ratbag.  If you figure that he’s getting out of his bed when I’m getting into mine you’d only be a couple of hours out and he likes to do his shopping in the morning. . . .

* * *

* We have the follow-up appointment with the stroke unit at the hospital on Thursday.  Any of you so inclined, all prayers, positive thoughts and finger-and-other-limb-crossings gratefully received.  I’m trying to remind myself they are not going to wave a magic wand and they do not have a schedule sheet that says ‘by the end of February you will . . .’ and ‘by the beginning of May you will not . . .’.  Still.  I would like it to be somewhat more informative and possibly even comforting than merely the poor old weary beleaguered NHS ticking another box on its paperwork.

** I’ve told you, haven’t I, that with the new school semester, and Stella, Nadia’s daughter, in primary school, we’ve had our lesson times and order shaken up?  And Boris—the baritone who could have been professional—IS after me?  After that meltdown I had and everything??  Nooooooooo.  When the doorbell rang last week I started trying to climb behind the piano^ but when Nadia came back from letting the invader in, she said it’s okay, it’s only Boris’ wife, Boris is sitting in the car practising his German.  This week when the doorbell rang and I started trying to climb behind the piano^^ Nadia said no, no, Boris isn’t coming this week, it’s only Myrtle . . . who is another of Nadia’s, ahem, mature beginners, and who makes a little squeaking noise when she sings, like I used to.  Although I was thinking as I (relatively speaking) made the windows rattle (it’s a small house with low ceilings) with my Sebben Crudele^^^ that hearing me isn’t necessarily doing Myrtle any good, nor giving her hope for her future, since I’m kind of the aural version of the large clumsy ungulate in the vintage knick-knack shop.  I KNOW THAT NOTE IS AROUND HERE SOMEWHERE.  HERE, THAT’LL DO, WHAP.  I realise that you can’t start doing something with your voice till you have a voice to do it with but still. . . . I was thinking, as I ricocheted off the walls this week at home that at my age I should be worrying that I’m going to develop a little old lady quaver before I get all that far with letting what voice I have out of durance vile—and of course I do worry about this because I worry about everything—but my own experience of my voice is not that it is old and frail and tottering toward ultimate retirement and (possibly) resentful of being prodded out of the shadows . . . but young, like it’s been in suspended animation all these years, and clueless and has NO IDEA what it’s capable of or even what it’s for.  There must be someone else out there who started taking voice lessons late?  What was/is it like for you?  —And in this case I specifically mean voice lessons, since the whole your-body-is-your-instrument thing is a crucial part of the weirdness.

^ Which is against the wall, the unhelpful thing

^^ This week I brought a crowbar

^^^ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cj64UzeprI4

Sigh.  I don’t sound like this at all.

I don’t sound anything like this either:


All you other mezzos out there will know these are absolute standards of the student repertoire and EVERYONE SINGS THEM.  Including, probably, a lot of people who have hung their recitals on YouTube who shouldn’t’ve.  I lost my taste for student recitals some while ago.

*** That’s not a slap at the Muddles.  I’d still be a member if I could stand either the length of their rehearsals or the funny air in their choice of practise venue.

† Remember Third House?  Speaking of sagging energy levels and loss of focus.  Sigh.

†† It’s not a real cliff hanger.   I’m just talking about singing.  There are no swords or banners with a strange device.


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