I have something to disclose.. it's a little bit embarrassing.
You see, since young I had a secret dream of being a singer - like my favourite Canto-pop singer, holding a concert in a large stadium. Yep, I liked to sing. During the hay days of karaoke, it's one of my favourite pastimes and i would hog the mike every time - since I could sing English, Mandarin and Cantonese songs..so much so that some of my friends were scared (and probably bored) of singing with me!
On the more serious side, I have been singing in school choirs since primary school days. In secondary school, I have sung in choruses for musicals like Cats and Gospel, and in the U.K. during university years, I joined the Opera Society whereby I not only got to sing but also to act in Verdi's operas no less! I was the only Asian and some of them were semi-professional singers!
I joined my church choir for a year or two in the mid 90s but slacked and stopped for a number of years before I rejoined more than two years ago, and even sang a small solo part in our Christmas Cantata. In the last few years, partly because of my role as a worship leader in church and also the opportunities to be in touch with both classical and pop music as well as meeting professional artistes at work, I became more interested in singing. I think it was around 2004 that I started learning from Soprano Tan Soo Suan of Dama orchestra. But the lessons were only once every month or so since she's based in Penang.
Not long after, a group of us from the worship team started taking up vocal lessons with one of the top sopranos in Malaysia - Cecilia Yap, and that went on for about two years or so but I did stop for a term as I have another ministry commitment. Although we weren't really given songs to sing as our teacher really drilled us to get our basic singing technique right, I think those of us who stuck on with her have benefited and improved our vocals in some ways.
However, we had to stop lessons with Cecilia a few months ago as her voice was strained. I continued with Soo Suan. And then the beginning of this month, I started learning with a new teacher, baritone Cha Seng Tiang, who runs a vocal college that my parents are taking lessons from. In a way, I must say I was inspired by my parents as well as my friends who are taking singing very seriously.
So that was just a brief background.. and now onto my `singing adventure' this weekend!
It was another of those weekends when I inadvertently ended up singing quite a bit! It started on Friday evening.. when I was helping to song-lead for the church prayer meeting. We had the practice just before the prayer meeting proper.. so effectively I sang more than a hour.. I would have sung even more but because of an assignment in the early afternoon, I had to reschedule my vocal class.
Saturday was the vocal masterclass that Soo Suan had organised for her students. And although I have officially stopped learning from her as of this month, she still included me in and had even chosen the song for me to sing - `Think of Me' from the musical Phantom of the Opera. I grew to like that heartfelt song more and more, and had been practising quite a bit but not in the last 3 days due to deadlines and busyness! I had even memorised the lyrics.. or so I thought!
I was the second one to sing.. in front of about 20 people. I even had dad recording it using my new camera. I know it was not a performance nor competition but still.. I wanted to do my best. I couldn't believe that I couldn't even reach a note in the first and second line! Gosh it was quite a disaster! I had to request to start again and even as I sang, I had forgotten the lyrics at two places.. during my own practice, it was never half as bad as this! But as a saving grace, at least I managed to sing the ending - a cadence that leads to the high `B flat' - without croaking
Soo Suan went through the song bit by bit again with me.. and when I got the chance to sing for a second time, it sounded better. I still could not forgive myself for forgetting the lyrics once I was standing in front of an audience! When I told my mom this, she laughed and sarcastically said she thought I am normally fearless! hmmm..
Then today, just as on a normal Sunday, I sang at church during worship session and then after lunch, had two-hour choir practice. We were singing a couple of the Christmas carols had very high notes and at a point, I felt my vocal was strained.. maybe too much of singing?
But like any other skills.. the more you practise, the more you would improve. I mean, just as far as just 3 years ago, I could never imagine I could sing the high B flat comfortably! But of course it helps if you know the proper way to sing.. So, with the guidance of a professional and as my love for singing is growing, I am determined to just sing on and better my vocal skills..
Well, I know I will never realise my secret childhood dream, but maybe one day I can be known as the writer/journalist who sings! :p