Sunday, November 25, 2007

My Singing Stories..

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 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


lainey said...

hey ... next time OKM and i are back in KL, let's go karaOKe OK? guess i'm going to have to learn some more chinese songs to keep up with you guys :D

jesscet said...

Ok! had been a long time never went karaoke, and can't remember ever sang with u? hehe.. will like to hear u sing a chinese song!

johira said...

Hi jesscet
I’m johira.i’m an Iranian girl.i always had the dream of being singer since I was 11.but in iran there is no vocal classes for girls so my dreams fade away but it always with me and grow with I’m 21.and my parents decided to send me to Malaysia for study pharmacology. Because they think that university in Malaysia is better than iranian’s the way I’m glad about it.
My family care about my future but they didn’t even know what is my dream.
You know I really love music and I want to devote my life to learning it.i want to learn how to sing.
Everyday I sang with somany singers.i sang along them but I shut my door because of my parents.if they know I want to become a singer they will kill me.
My mother always said: hey look those singers just waste their’s better to be a doctor than a singer…
But I want’s not for money,fame or… it’s just an inner desire that I had it from my childhood but my conditions of life blocked my way to reach it.
Now I hope there is somewhere in Malaysia I could find a vocal coach and practice singing.
I practice every day but I wanna learn the right method of singing.
I don’t know why I write it down here for you!i just thought we have the same same desire.
By the way can you tell me which is the best way of breathing from your diaphragm?