Pieces of my world

Friday, September 29, 2006


High and Low Notes

It so happens that this afternoon I was rummaging around in the depths of my room looking for my walkman (I swear, my room is a black hole- you lose something in there and A) you either aint ever gonna see it again or B) it will magically resurface, cobweb strung and dust caked, five years later). True to form, I didn’t find the walkman. I found something better- *wait for it…* *drum roll* my golden box of tape cassettes!! Seeing as I might be auditioning for Durham Chamber Choir and The Choral Society, those tape cassettes will come in mighty handy. For these aren’t just any old tape cassettes. Oh no, these are lovingly recorded singing lesson tapes, drizzled with essential singing technique tips and complete with succulent morsels of informa- oh stop it OctoberPoppy, enough of the sexy-M&S-advert-voice-over-imitation-already! (Why the Americans have a thing for saying ‘enough of ____ already’ , I do not know. Americans are obviously bizarre. I mean, they say tomaytoe; sneaker; v-I-tamin; rowte for route- what’s going on with that?? Gah *tosses mane*, like, honestly!! Any non-Brits reading this won’t have a clue as to what the M&S thing refers to-trust me dearies, you haven’t missed much at all. No, the sensual croonings of the sexy lady being drilled into your ears over the past, er, decade practically, aren’t anything special. Nor is the prancing and pouting of an over-the-hill Twiggy [if she insults overweight people, then she should jolly well be able to take it back. Not that I’m overweight…just sticking up for the principle, you know] a particular treat either). Anyway, I digress.

Did I mention I’m a singer?

Well yes, I am. Or rather was. For five years I trained at the Junior School at the RNCM, although I’d say only for the past year have I really begun to grasp the true principles and concept of singing. I am also a pianist. Those cassettes I chanced upon are funny things. While listening to brief snippets of them in trying to isolate the ones where I am working on Pamina’s Aria from The Magic Flute (if I were organised I would have them neatly filed and categorised. In my head I aspire to this, in reality I am not), a host of memories came flooding back. And with them, sadness.

It was a choice I made- Durham and academia or the fickle world of Classical music and Opera. At 18 I was, AM, not ready for the latter. I don’t have the life experience or maturity in years to deal with the turbulent roller coaster that is singing. It’s rewarding, invigorating, but uncertain and a perilous minefield of depression, unemployment and eroded confidence. I wanted to go and explore other things and then return to my singing on graduation, at 22, with renewed vigour, knowing it is really what I want. So I put OctoberPoppy, the soprano, back in her box and me, the singer, is in semi-retirement for my years at Durham. But a part of me regrets. I wonder whether I have made the right decision; whether I will lose all the technique my teacher and I have worked so hard to establish. I have done virtually no practice of either piano or voice this summer because it is too painful for me to come to terms with the key part of my life which I have lost and by avoiding it, I Haven’t had to deal with this sacrifice; the sacrifice I knew I had to make. It is so scary for me that the musical me is on hiatus. It’s still a surprise to me when I do warm up from time to time and find that yes! It IS still there; my voice; my support; the technique; the whistle register and I haven’t lost it after all. I feel confident that I made the right choice for me and that the avenue to Music Conservatoires and that dog-eat-dog competitiveness of that world is one I don’t want to be walking right now. Still, a part of me wonders where I would be going if I’d chosen that other route, if I’d chosen to strike out and navigate the formidable rocky terrain instead of the well-trodden highway.

Am I being dramatic? Probably. I tell myself that I’m only worried about my future as a singer because it’s all linked in with my fear of going to Durham tomorrow. I tell myself that when I get settled down, into a routine, my musical inspiration will return. I tell myself that if I get into a good choir I won’t lose my musical ear and I’ll be able to slip back into my musical journey after graduation. Right now though, I can only tell myself these things…and hope that this path turns out okay.


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