This is the first of three – possibly four – connected blogs coming up over the next few days. It was originally written as a standalone blog a couple of months ago, but I forgot to post it! It’s not completely relevant to the other two (or three), but may save a bit of explanation later on, which can only be a good thing…
Not something I ever thought I would find myself saying, but I’ve been taking singing lessons. My next one is on Monday next week, and that’ll be about half a dozen or so under my belt.
The reason I never thought I’d say ‘I’ve been taking singing lessons,’ is because I never thought I’d ever be singing outside of my own bathroom, but it only goes to show that you shouldn’t go making glib assumptions about things. That said, I don’t have a need for singing lessons, I just want to do it. And here’s why.
A few months ago – October I think it was – I penned, for fun, a little song about Lovely Tunbridge Wells. I enjoyed writing it so much that I decided to write an entire musical on the same theme. I was slightly hampered in this ambition by my lack of any formal musical training (or informal come to that), my inability to read/write musical notation and/or to play any instrument more complex than a triangle, and the fact that I can’t really sing. But of course I wasn’t going to let trivial little details like those hold me back, and in a flurry of manic energy I knocked off half-a-dozen or so complete songs and potential titles /snippets for at least a dozen more. Then I got very VERY pissed and “sang” (I use that term extremely loosely) a couple of them acapulco (that means without music, ya thicky! 😉 ) at a few open mics and poetry slams I regularly attend. And they went down very well!
TBH I’m amazed that even with copious amounts of wine inside me I found the courage to sing publicly: my first and only attempt at singing for an audience – a hymn my brother and I had penned for Mr Cox’s Tuesday Club prize giving (I kid you not) – had been an unmitigated disaster, and an experience I had sworn I would never repeat. Basically my brother feigned a sore throat on the big night so I was forced to perform alone, and after several false(tto) starts I burst into tears and fled the stage. Don’t laugh or mock: I was only twenty-three…*
Anyhoo, I digress… Picking up from where I went AWOL: TBH I’m amazed that even with copious amounts of wine inside me I found the courage to sing […] but spurring me on was the realisation that the sheer terror I had felt when reading my poems at slams and stuff had lost some of its potency, and I was determined to harness that nervous energy again and put it to good use. Basically, I wanted to quake with fear again, and quake with fear I did!** It was lovely! It is lovely. Which is more than can be said for my singing voice. Hence next week’s lesson.
In fairness to myself it’s not that I can’t sing at all – I’ve always been a keen bathtub baritone and can just about carry a tune without the need for a bucket – but there’s a certain amount of spillage and it’s this I hope to address with a few tips from a professional. The songs I’m singing are intended to be humorous for the most part (much like my performance poetry when it’s not ranty and deliberately provocative), so it’s not as though I need to develop my voice particularly, but it’s probably all to the good if I can raise my game a little, especially at the top and bottom ends of my somewhat limited range. Additionally, with the help of a friend, I’m getting some of the songs transcribed into sheet music for wider performance, so I would be doing said friend a disservice by not giving our combined efforts the best chance they have to fly.
Singing lessons aside, I will be exercising the ol’ tonsils at every opportunity over the coming months, and all indications are that opportunity will be knocking fairly regularly. If you happen to be in Tunbridge Wells and get a chance to come along please do. Chances are you’ll hear some selections from Tunbridge Wells: The Musical, but I am adding to my repertoire all the time so who knows what delights may be served up alongside? If you’re very lucky and there are no kids about (it’s a bit sweary) I may even do The Window Cleaner’s Lament, a tribute (of sorts) to George Formby that has been very well received on its two or three outings to date. It’s a corker, though I says it m’self wot shouldn’t. Eee, it’s turned out nice again, ent it?
I’ll let you know how the singing lesson went next time round. If I remember. Meanwhile, it’s good to lay the ghost of Mr Cox’s Tuesday Club Prize Giving to rest: it’s been a monkey on my back for far too long.
* Actually I was about seven, and while I didn’t actually cry I was traumatised for months.
** There’s a video to prove it, but it only captured part of one song and as that’s the very sweary one mentioned above not really suitable for airing here! One day, maybe…
Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment… It ain’t over ’til the fat bloke sings… …