Thursday, 27 December 2012

Christmas 2012

Christmas Eve I came home from singing at the first service at St Mary's at around 9:20pm to find Tyler fast asleep in the hallway because apparently he was 'waiting to catch Santa'.


On the bench he had laid out a feast for Santa and the 'rainder' with a little note.


Off I went to St Mary's again for round 2 at 11:30pm, finishing just before 1am. By the time I got home and ensured everything was ready for Santa it was 1:45am. 

Tyler came "Merry Christmas!"-ing into our room at 5:15am but amazingly we were able to get him to settle down in our bed till 6am at which time he dragged me out to the lounge with him to open his Santa presents and the presents from us. Much excitement ensued as amongst other things a skateboard was revealed.

Tyler and I played Monopoly and then we headed over to Mum's at midday to open presents and indulge in a traditional Christmas feast with Mum's personalised home-made crackers between courses. 

It was a gloriously hot, sunny day.

                    Chris                                                          Stephen
 


Back home Tyler played happily with his loot while Chris watched a movie and I had a big nana-nap! 

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Christmas is Coming

We have one not-so-small-now boy happy as a Christmas elf high on frankincense and myrrh after putting up the Christmas tree this afternoon. We put up the Advent calendar last night so he has already had his first gift from that.

We have one of those Advent calendars with 24 small pockets into which I put a slip of paper with a picture of a location at which he will find a 'wee something.' This year we are having the usual toy/lolly type gifts and then we are adding in some 'Time Vouchers' which will have things like "Spend an hour at the beach with Mum &/or Dad' or 'Picnic at the park'.  Like a lot of kids, Tyler's love currency is time with us, so not only do we get away from buying cheap cr@p that will get tossed in a week or two, but we all benefit from the time together.

Surprisingly, we have been having difficulty getting out of him what he wants for Christmas presents. He consistently says that he will like whatever we get him (oh the fish-hooks in that one!) and that he wants to do things with his family. He actually wrote a note to Santa asking for 'something the whole family can do play together'. 

I recently created his PNP Santa video and it was a sight to behold when the video got to the bit where Santa has a look under the cover at what the elves are making for Tyler. Santa "Oh Tyler, I see you want something that everyone can do together". Tyler's eyes went like saucers, his mouth dropped open and he exclaimed "Oh my goodness!"  Belief is still strong in him :)

This year's new ornaments.



Random Tyler photo - with his new Beywheel rink


Saturday, 10 November 2012

Something old, something new

Now is the time of the singing year where, with competitions over, I get to choose a whole bunch of new music to learn and expand my (pathetically small) repertoire and Christmas music starts looming in the shape of end of year concerts and solos gigs. So a mixture of new (to me) and old.

Firstly the new music. My teacher hauls out all sorts of new and delicious pieces from her vast collection and tantalises me by singing snippets of this lieder and that aria which she thinks will suit my voice. Frankly I just want to sit and listen to her sing the whole time but she's clever enough just to sing enough to let me get a feel for a piece and decide if it's 'me' or not and then she moves on to the next one. I know there are teachers who just say "Here's what you are to learn" and off you go, but I guess I'm a big enough girl to say no and my teacher is relaxed enough to not mind when I say no. Let's face it, it's not like I'm preparing myself for a singing career where I would have to sing things I might not like in order to advance myself. 

So currently I'm beavering away at: the lower part of the Flower Duet* from Lakme (will learn the upper part later), Mendelssohn's 'Neue Liebe', and 'Kommt ein schlanker Bursch gegangen' from Der Freischutz. 

As we work away at extending my register upwards, it's a pleasant feeling to be able to look at piece of music with a C6 or three and not feel an immediate rise in heart rate. If I can become as comfortable with D6 as with the C6 then it will open up a whole lot of new repertoire for me. It's only 2 semitones difference but feels like 2 vertical miles some days.

Christmas music comes in the form of choir music with A Capella Singers and the usual church music including 2 services on Christmas Eve. The ACS concert is a combined one with a brass band. This is a combination for which the singers will have to find their collective squillo!! Then there is a programme of Christmas music at Womens Club which I am in charge of, which is allowing me to be self-indulgent and allot myself Adam's O Holy Night, which I can then repeat at a dinner gig a week later.

*Do those of you of a similar vintage to me always think of the old British Airways ads when you hear/sing this??






Sunday, 30 September 2012

The Morning After

Competitions are done and dusted for another year. I got into the car after prize-giving and realised I could actually put something in the CD player that wasn't a competition piece!* This will be a long post as I go through the classes, as much for me to reflect on as for you to read. Grab yourselves a cuppa and a bikkie and get comfortable. 

It was as always, a mixture of ups and downs, of learning and stumbling and conquering. Friday night started with Operatic Aria (Batti, batti). The first one's always the hardest, at least according to my shaky knees. The piano for various reasons was not situated in the best place for the accompanists to be able to hear the singers and unfortunately this proved problematic for me and my lovely accompanist at the tempo change which was a  bit unnerving until we got back in sync a couple of bars later. All in all I gave a safe performance  but not a very characterful one, so only 3rd out of three. The winner was a 4th year Honours performance student from Dunedin so a cut above me technically. That's not me making excuses by the way - I'm going to write of my performances in relation to my own standard.

Next up was British Art Song, the beautiful King David. It was my first time entering this class. I concentrated on telling the story and having a smooth line and I think my teacher - who unfortunately was out of town this weekend - would have been pleased with the climactic phrase which she had been urging me to make more of. I had some more timing issues but nothing too terrible  and from an audience point of view, not neccesarily obvious. The Dunedin singer sang Danny Boy beautifully. The adjudicator said when reading the results for this class "This singer sang a song I love and sang it so beautifully I nearly cried". I leaned over to one of my singing friends and whispered "That's her (meaning Dunedin singer) for first then". And then the adjudicator said 'First place to Christine McLeod" and my jaw nearly hit the floor! So that was a very nice moment for me.

Next morning was a very early start - FB friends will have seen my grumbles about being asked to sing Oratorio at 9am in the morning! Fortunately I had French Art (Mandoline - Faure) to warm me into it. I was, sadly, the only entrant in that class. It amazes me that so few people down here sing French Art songs, there are so many to-die for pieces. Anyway, I got first and the adjudicator pointed out that she was not at all obliged to give a first, or second or third for that matter. but that I deserved first. I think I sang it reasonably well although I fluffed a couple of words which annoyed me. Next Oratorio, With Verdure Clad. This one took a LOT of work for me and I still feel I've got a long way to go with it. However I actually felt quite good during the performance and finally did as my teacher tried to get me to do, and 'went operatic' at the high arching phrases. Isn't in amazing (<--- sarcasm) how it's so much easier when you do what your teacher tells you? End result, a second, which I was very happy with.

Next up Lieder, Schubert's 'Nacht und Traume.' Only 2 pages but oh what 2 pages they are. I seriously would have liked an extra pair of lungs for the loooooong phrases. Was reasonably happy with the way I sang it and got a 3rd.

Then the big one, the Scholarship class. I thought I might have had a good shot at it this year, but after hearing the Dunedin singer, I knew it was unlikely. So I decided to forget about trying to win and just get out there and have fun. I wore my 'singing dress' as I wanted something that I could make look a bit girly and flirty for my contrasting piece (Les Filles de Cadix). Firstly the test piece, Spring Goeth All in White. It went well although I could have put more contrast into it. Then Les Filles. As I have mentioned before, I tend to be a bit of a statue (apart from the old shaky knees) when I sing, so I decided I was going to really move and act out the part. And I did!! And as I sang I could see the audience smiling as they got the characterisation. There were moments in the singing where things definitely weren't perfect but I reckon I did a pretty good job of it overall. And when I popped out the top C# at the end, frankly I didn't care about the competition, I just was just mentally going "Woooo!" So no win, but definately satisfaction that I had made some progress with my singing. 

So a good weekend, meeting old friends, hearing voices developing, hearing new music (Andres Maienlied!), and winning a pretty cup. And best of all? My voice survived without going all husky. 


*For enquiring minds, I started with 'Ca' the Yowes' from Dougie Macleans' 'Tribute' CD


Monday, 3 September 2012

Keep calm and....panic!


So, a little update on progress with my competition pieces. This assumes of course, that I have actually made progress. Some days it's a case of 3 steps forward, 2 backwards. And if I'm honest, sometimes it's 3 forwards and 4 backwards. At least that's what it feels like. Updates in red:

  • Own Selection - not yet decided a.k.a. 'what can I dredge up from the past and polish up quickly.' I have a two-page baroque piece (but new!) that might do the trick. Decision to be made this week.
  • French Art Song - Mandoline (Faure) - completely new. Still a lot of work to do, but starting to get a feel for it. 
  • British Art Song - King David (Howells) - at performance level. Refining.
  • Oratorio - With Verdure Clad (Haydn) - well on the way. Almost there. Feeling a lot more comfortable with it. 
  • Lieder - Nacht und Traume (Schubert) - prepared last year, but not sung. Pretty good, but need to get it fully from memory.
  • Operatic Aria - Batti, batti o bel Masetto (Mozart) - completely new. Getting to grips with it but still a lot of work to do.
  • Scholarship - Spring Goeth All in White (Caskie) - test piece, completely new, don't even have the music yet now I have the music and it is straightforward, so lots of emphasis on accuracy of time and dynamic markings and Les Filles de Cadix (Delibes) - contrasting piece, slowly getting there. Need to start letting myself go and let it trip off my tongue, not to mention learn the second verse from memory.
So here we are, less than four weeks to go. Looking at that list I'm am vascillating between 'there is no. way. in. hell. I am going to get all that up to performance standard in the time left' and 'sleep is over-rated anyway'. Procrastination is a terrible thing isn't it? (I'm looking at you, Sarah-in-Yepoon). There's always an excuse to put off practice - the evil Facebook full of kittens doing cute things and killer quotes that have to be shared, food to be eaten (which in turn renders us incapable of singing due to a stomach so full we can't inflate our lungs - oh, is that just me?) and, inexplicably, housework that suddenly becomes a great attraction "Look at that great pile of washing that needs to be folded and put away, I have ignored it for a week but it simply has to be done right now".

And then I think back to last year, pre-Competition, and the words 'Groundhog Day' spring to mind. You'd think I'd learn, eh? I've tried to do some headology (that's psychoanalysis for plebs) on this trait of mine and all I can come up with is that I'm afraid that even if I do 6 bajillion-kadillion* hours of practice, I won't actually get any better - evidence to the contrary - and so I avoid failure by not actually doing anything. So this really is more than you wanted to know about the inside of my head. Feel free to tell me about the inside of your head in relation to singing practice. I might just learn something. 

* This is a bona-fide measurement of quantity. My 8 year old says so.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Conversations with Tyler

This morning:

Tyler: If a whole lot of woolly mammoths dropped out of the sky in a circle around you, you wouldn't be able to escape
(there ensued some discussion on the probability of woolly mammoths falling out of the sky)
Me: So where did you find out about woolly mammoths?
Tyler: At school we have this non-fiction book and it's about woolly mammoths and diarrhoea wolves.
Me: !!!!! Are you sure that's what they're called?
Tyler: Yeah, it's D I R E. 
Me: ????
Note to blog readers: If you can figure out what sort of wolves he's referring to, please enlighten me. I'd like to get rid of the mental image that's haunting me.


**Update, thanks to Mr Google I now know there was a prehistoric wolf called the Dire Wolf. So now you know too. You're welcome.

This afternoon at the supermarket:

Tyler: Can I have some chocolate milk. It's on special.
Me, taking opportunity for maths practice: How much will we save? 
Tyler, cheating by looking on the sales ticket: 70c. Oh but it's $4.33 if we litter.
Me, puzzled then lightbulb dawning: Ah, so its $4.33 litre.

Yesterday:

Tyler: Can I please have a bowl of chips?
Me: Yes, but just a small one.
Tyler: Can you get it then?
Me: No, you're perfectly capable of getting it yourself.
Tyler: But I'm not very good at amounting.


Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Getting back to basics


As I have mentioned previously, I haven't had any singing lessons this year up until very recently, due to my teacher give birth to the most delightful little girl. As well as that, I haven't been back to see my voice therapist since late January.  And although I have had quite a bit of singing over the last couple of months, I have to confess that I have not kept up my vocal exercises nearly as well as I should. And my voice is definitely showing it. Huskiness after a full-on choir rehearsal. Not being able to vocalise as high as previously. Old habits creeping back. 

I guess singers are athletes and we have to train to keep in shape, only instead of building up big biceps for throwing a javelin or shoulders the width of a small country for swimming we have to exercise our vocal folds and train the muscles needed to give us breath support. 

At my first proper lesson for the year a couple of weeks ago, I left feeling as if I would never sing properly again. I hasten to add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill of the teacher and everything to do with me not keeping vocally in shape. Where was the E flat 6 I had previously popped up to? Why couldn't I sing above a B without feeling like I had lockjaw? It felt like the more I tried the worse I sounded. And trying not to cry while singing doesn't help either. So a salutory lesson for me. 

I have now booked in a session with my voice therapist this weekend and hopefully this will put me back on the straight and narrow. 

The other thing that is frustrating me about singing right now is not being able to control my larynx. I understand the concept of how the larynx moves in relation to the pitch but do you think I can move it (or let it move) accordingly? Honestly sometimes I'd like to go all Aliens v Predators on myself and yank the damn thing into the right position. My teacher says my tongue also misbehaves and becomes a law unto itself. I'm riddled with body parts that blow figurative raspberries at me. Oh the indignity of it!

Enough of the whining. Assuming my larynx comes to the party, I will be singing Mahler's 'Wer Hat dies Liedlein Erdacht' this Friday at a fund-raising concert. Practicing this with my teacher the other day, she had me waltzing around the room to assist me in getting the right feel to it and then accessing that feeling while standing still and singing. By golly it works.

Getting back to basics


As I have mentioned previously, I haven't had any singing lessons this year up until very recently, due to my teacher give birth to the most delightful little girl. As well as that, I haven't been back to see my voice therapist since late January.  And although I have had quite a bit of singing over the last couple of months, I have to confess that I have not kept up my vocal exercises nearly as well as I should. And my voice is definitely showing it. Huskiness after a full-on choir rehearsal. Not being able to vocalise as high as previously. Old habits creeping back. 

I guess singers are athletes and we have to train to keep in shape, only instead of building up big biceps for throwing a javelin or shoulders the width of a small country for swimming we have to exercise our vocal folds and train the muscles needed to give us breath support. 

At my first proper lesson for the year a couple of weeks ago, I left feeling as if I would never sing properly again. I hasten to add that this has nothing whatsoever to do with the skill of the teacher and everything to do with me not keeping vocally in shape. Where was the E flat 6 I had previously popped up to? Why couldn't I sing above a B without feeling like I had lockjaw? It felt like the more I tried the worse I sounded. And trying not to cry while singing doesn't help either. So a salutory lesson for me. 

I have now booked in a session with my voice therapist this weekend and hopefully this will put me back on the straight and narrow. 

The other thing that is frustrating me about singing right now is not being able to control my larynx. I understand the concept of how the larynx moves in relation to the pitch but do you think I can move it (or let it move) accordingly? Honestly sometimes I'd like to go all Aliens v Predators on myself and yank the damn thing into the right position. My teacher says my tongue also misbehaves and becomes a law unto itself. I'm riddled with body parts that blow figurative raspberries at me. Oh the indignity of it!

Enough of the whining. Assuming my larynx comes to the party, I will be singing Mahler's 'Wer Hat dies Liedlein Erdacht' this Friday at a fund-raising concert. Practicing this with my teacher the other day, she had me waltzing around the room to assist me in getting the right feel to it and then accessing that feeling while standing still and singing. By golly it works.

Monday, 21 May 2012

A Tyler-ism

Tyler, to me after I missed seeing something on tv:


"I could fast-forwards it backwards for you?"


-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The wee dude has his school cross-country tomorrow, send fast vibes :)



Sunday, 13 May 2012

Mothers' Day

Here's the card Tyler presented me with this morning:

Front:


Inside:


What more can I say?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Mooning


Belatedly here's my photo to add to the gazillions already taken of the 'supermoon' This was taken early morning - I thought the pink sky was pretty. 

Tyler was at OSCAR today after school and came home with these little edible crafts. I didn't photograph them from a very good angle, but they are supposed to resemble a cup and saucer. I'd go back and retake the photo but we ate them :)


Tyler came home from school yesterday with a certificate handed out in assembly for 'Showing great resilience and perseverance despite a broken arm'. I think he was quite chuffed that when one of the teachers said she thought he wouldn't be able to do their cross-country training run he went off and did it with no trouble. His cast is now covered with school friends names and even one of the teacher's wrote on it.

Monday, 7 May 2012

Random conversation

Tyler: I'm hungry

Me: OK, have a snack

Tyler: I could have you as a snack *giggles and chomping noises*

Me: No! I wouldn't taste very nice.

Tyler: Yes you would, everyone tastes like chicken.


Sunday, 6 May 2012

Happy

Yes, I'm happy!  *does Happy Dance* Sure, there were bits I didn't sing as well I would have liked in a perfect world, but I'm not going to beat myself up over them. (Maybe I'll do that when I hear the recording). But hey, I've ticked something off my bucket list, so that's a bonus, right? 

It was a big day in more ways than one. Because we had musicians coming from Dunedin, the rehearsal was held the same day. Certainly not ideal, but when you're on a strict budget these things sometimes have to be done. The rehearsal went pretty well, and I tried not to sing to full out to help preserve my voice for the performance. 

'Belinda' sang her first aria then we were into the first chorus, the short 'Banish Sorrow'. By two-thirds of the way through my heart was beating so hard and fast I thought it was going to leap out of my chest. I stepped out and tried to look as if I were 'press'd with torment'. It is entirely possible that my expression could have been interpreted as 'deer caught in the headlights'. The first 'Ah' was a bit short due to me not having prepared for it properly but I had myself sorted by the second one and the aria went well - I even got through the longest 'I languish' phrase with breath support intact. 


I enjoyed the latter part of the performance best, as I was able to interact more with other characters, in particular Aeneas in the scene where Dido compares him to 'a deceitful crocodile'! And finally the Lament. About half way through I thought 'Let go! Don't think, just be Dido!'  and so I just let myself get swept up in the emotion and it felt amazing. Someone afterwards told me that I really conveyed Dido's despair, which made me feel pretty good! I stood there and let the choir's 'With Drooping Wings' wash over me and wished I could do it all over again. Although ideally I would want it to be a full opera performance. 


Now my performance calendar has a bit of blank space, so I can sit down and work on some things that I haven't had time to - Tornami a vagegghiar from Handel's Alcina for one. Here's La Stupenda in a 1960 rendition....



Happy

Yes, I'm happy!  *does Happy Dance* Sure, there were bits I didn't sing as well I would have liked in a perfect world, but I'm not going to beat myself up over them. (Maybe I'll do that when I hear the recording). But hey, I've ticked something off my bucket list, so that's a bonus, right? 

It was a big day in more ways than one. Because we had musicians coming from Dunedin, the rehearsal was held the same day. Certainly not ideal, but when you're on a strict budget these things sometimes have to be done. The rehearsal went pretty well, and I tried not to sing to full out to help preserve my voice for the performance. 

'Belinda' sang her first aria then we were into the first chorus, the short 'Banish Sorrow'. By two-thirds of the way through my heart was beating so hard and fast I thought it was going to leap out of my chest. I stepped out and tried to look as if I were 'press'd with torment'. It is entirely possible that my expression could have been interpreted as 'deer caught in the headlights'. The first 'Ah' was a bit short due to me not having prepared for it properly but I had myself sorted by the second one and the aria went well - I even got through the longest 'I languish' phrase with breath support intact. 


I enjoyed the latter part of the performance best, as I was able to interact more with other characters, in particular Aeneas in the scene where Dido compares him to 'a deceitful crocodile'! And finally the Lament. About half way through I thought 'Let go! Don't think, just be Dido!'  and so I just let myself get swept up in the emotion and it felt amazing. Someone afterwards told me that I really conveyed Dido's despair, which made me feel pretty good! I stood there and let the choir's 'With Drooping Wings' wash over me and wished I could do it all over again. Although ideally I would want it to be a full opera performance. 


Now my performance calendar has a bit of blank space, so I can sit down and work on some things that I haven't had time to - Tornami a vagegghiar from Handel's Alcina for one. Here's La Stupenda in a 1960 rendition....



Monday, 30 April 2012

Photos

As promised, a random assortment of photos for your viewing pleasure....


The temporary cast from last week

The climax of my big aria in Dido and Aeneas

The boys 'laxing out and channel-surfing

Nan & Tyler
Cousin Rebecca - cool bikie chick


Cousin Stephen

Life with a cast

Tyler returned to Kew Hospital last Friday to attend Fracture Clinic. This usually entails an enormous amount of waiting around in between checking in, getting x-rayed, seeing a specialist and then any cast work to be done, but we were done and dusted in about 2 hours 20 minutes. X-rays show the bones is healing, but the doctor decided that the cast needed to be extended above the elbow to stop any rotation of the elbow making the bones move at the wrist. 

Because the existing cast was working well, they elected to do the fibreglass casting over the top of it and onwards past the elbow. Tyler chose a nice bright yellow. He thinks this will be a good colour for people to write on :)  He has an another check this Friday and assuming all ok, he will be in the cast for another 5 weeks. Thank goodness this didn't happen during swimming and Flippa Ball season. 

On Saturday I had my long-awaited performance as Dido in a concert performance of Purcell's opera Dido & Aeneas. Got my photo in the paper on the Saturday morning. 

After an amazingly good summer and unseasonably-mild Autumn, winter knocked loudly on the door today with wind, rain, hail and thunderstorms. 

I have a few random photos in the camera which I will download soon.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

I can't back out now, my name's on the programme

It's Wednesday and Dido & Aeneas is this Saturday at 4pm. Of course I don't really want to back out but I have, over the last week, been subject to bouts of  'who the hell do I think I am to be singing Dido?' I always wonder at what point someone like Jessye Norman or Pavarotti or any other world-famous singer goes on stage and thinks 'I have every right to be singing this'. Is there a light-bulb moment when they realise that their technique, quality of voice and ability to convey whatever emotion is needed is all there, and they are completely confident in their own ability? When they think 'Yeah, my voice IS so awesome that people will gladly pay a large portion of their weekly income to hear me?'

Obviously I'm a journeyman (journeywoman?) singer in a small city near the bottom of the world so the expectations on me are just a tad lower, but I still angst over the fact that people are using some of their precious time and money to listen to me. They have a right to expect something at the very least competent. And I realise that I'm being overly dramatic (no, really? Me?) because I'm not the only person they're coming to hear. It's just that there's this little song at the end of the opera that Dido sings. The one everyone knows. And because they know it, they know when you don't get the timing quite right, or a note exactly where it should be.

And so this morning, as I practised Dido's Lament in the shower - don't you love shower acoustics? - I thought, to hell with it, I know the notes, I can sing them competently, I'm just going to let go and invest it with all the emotion that I feel when I sing those sorrow-laden words. Maybe I'll come in half a beat late on a  'Remember me'. Maybe I'll forget a bit of ornamentation. But by golly the audience is going to feel my despair! 

Because that's what it's really all about isn't it? Not just pretty notes - it's about making people feel something.

I'll be back after the performance to let you know if I succeeded.

I can't back out now, my name's on the programme

It's Wednesday and Dido & Aeneas is this Saturday at 4pm. Of course I don't really want to back out but I have, over the last week, been subject to bouts of  'who the hell do I think I am to be singing Dido?' I always wonder at what point someone like Jessye Norman or Pavarotti or any other world-famous singer goes on stage and thinks 'I have every right to be singing this'. Is there a light-bulb moment when they realise that their technique, quality of voice and ability to convey whatever emotion is needed is all there, and they are completely confident in their own ability? When they think 'Yeah, my voice IS so awesome that people will gladly pay a large portion of their weekly income to hear me?'

Obviously I'm a journeyman (journeywoman?) singer in a small city near the bottom of the world so the expectations on me are just a tad lower, but I still angst over the fact that people are using some of their precious time and money to listen to me. They have a right to expect something at the very least competent. And I realise that I'm being overly dramatic (no, really? Me?) because I'm not the only person they're coming to hear. It's just that there's this little song at the end of the opera that Dido sings. The one everyone knows. And because they know it, they know when you don't get the timing quite right, or a note exactly where it should be.

And so this morning, as I practised Dido's Lament in the shower - don't you love shower acoustics? - I thought, to hell with it, I know the notes, I can sing them competently, I'm just going to let go and invest it with all the emotion that I feel when I sing those sorrow-laden words. Maybe I'll come in half a beat late on a  'Remember me'. Maybe I'll forget a bit of ornamentation. But by golly the audience is going to feel my despair! 

Because that's what it's really all about isn't it? Not just pretty notes - it's about making people feel something.

I'll be back after the performance to let you know if I succeeded.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The blog post that came back to bite me on the posterior

So you remember the post where I talked about lettings kids do what kids do and not being a helicopter parent? How I said that there likely to be more broken bones in Tyler's future? Um, yeah, should have got a firm grip on a large piece of wood as I wrote that. It went like this....

Tuesday afternoon, about 4:15pm the phone rings and a lady from the OSCAR Holiday Programme was attending said "We think Tyler has broken his wrist". I shot down to the school where they run the programme and one look at the wee dude's face was enough to tell me that he not feeling too good at all. They had rigged up a sling for him, and gently pulled back the edge to show me the kink in his wrist. 

Off we sped to A&E, where they quickly weighed him and gave him a dose of paracetamol. This didn't even touch the sides of the pain so they squirted a morphine-type substance up his nose with the advice that he would probably be a bit woozy. Five minutes later he was talking non-stop, telling me a very involved story about something he saw on tv. All the time he was waving his non-damaged arm in the air because he said the place on his arm where they rubbed numbing gel felt strange. He had two lots of x-rays, which showed the complete break in the ulna, with the bone on an angle, hence the kink in his wrist. Skip this picture if you're a bit squeamish....


Eventually the doctors sedated him and straightened the bone. He was out to it for about 20 minutes and then woke up rather startled. By this time Chris had arrived. The doctors were concerned about swelling inside the temporary cast, so they cut it all the way down on one side so that we could gently widen it if needed to release the pressure. Eventually they released him with a sling and a prescription for pain medication. As we stopped to get some paperwork from the nurse, a baby started squawking in the cubicle next to us. Tyler exclaimed "Someone's just had a baby in there!" which had the nurse giggling. 

After a quick stop at McD's for some food as we were all starving we drove home and tucked Tyler into our bed (thank goodness for Super-King-size bed). It was a bit of a restless night for all of us. Fortunately Chris was home today on his in-between day and I am off tomorrow and Friday so we can give him plenty of love and attention.

Next week he'll get a proper cast - he reckons this one is going to be pale yellow. And so he is maintaining his '1 broken bone for every 2 years of life' average.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

This and that

It's been a long time between posts - Hi Dad! - so I better catch y'all up on the household doings.

Term 1 has finished and Tyler is on holiday. He's had a sleepover at a friend's place and got two Easter Egg Hunts, one on Good Friday at home and then another on Easter Sunday at his friend's. Remarkably he still has quite a bit of his booty left. He has had a couple of days at OSCAR and will spend some days with Chris, some with me and a few with both of us. 

He came out with a little gem the other day, as we were snuggled up in bed. "Mum, do you know what a snuggle is? It's a cuddle where you get really comfy together." Couldn't have put it better myself.

Softball season finished on a high for Chris, who is captain of the Wallacetown team which plays in the Premier B division. They won their grade, and Chris played a blinder, with a homer and great fielding. The team also won the Conduct Award and the award for the team with the least runs scored against them.    Rugby starts this weekend (Senior C division, playing for the Hawaiian Delights) as he gets match fit for his big trip to Hawaii in September. My netball starts this weekend although I am not officially playing for the season, just covering the first three or four weeks for one of the girls who's overseas.

I've had plenty of singing with the church choir over Easter and then a funeral I was honoured to be asked to sing at yesterday. At the end of the month I sing the role of Dido in a concert performance of Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas' as part of the Southland Arts Festival. As usual, details of my singing adventures can be read here.

Here's a couple of pics of the wee dude deep in philosophical discussion with his big bro Anton. Topic of discussion? How to get to the next level on the Pokemon White Nintendo game :)


Monday, 9 April 2012

Once a Day and Twice on Sundays.

I sing with the small choir at St Mary's Basilica in Invercargill, usually every second Sunday. So far, I don't think they have figured out that they have a cuckoo in the nest, me being a Baptist-raised agnostic, although my ingrained version of the Lord's Prayer complete with thou's and trespasses might have tipped them off. Anyway, it is a musical education for me, as I learn all the setting of the Glorias, Amens etc. Every so often I get thrown into the Cantor role, where I have to concentrate very hard. It's a whole different style of singing and at the moment I still tend to sing it as a song rather than as musical speech. But I'm slowly getting there.

The other great thing about singing with this choir (I use the term choir relatively loosely given that on a good day we have one bass, two tenors, two altos and two sopranos) is that there is often solo work to do - an aria from Messiah, the Vicar of Dibley version of The Lord is My Shepherd and so on. We sit up in the choir stalls so are hidden from the view of all but the Priest and any parishioners who dare to risk putting a neck vertebra out of alignment to have a look. That means the focus is on the music and not the person singing which is much more relaxing. The acoustics are great too.

Easter in the Catholic Church is A Big Deal. From Holy Thursday we sang every day and twice on Sunday. I love that we get to sing plainchant and music that has endured for centuries in the same form. It's amazing to think that the notes we sing are the very same as would have been sung by someone in the 12th century. I had quite a bit to do, including Cantor work and two Mozart arias - the Laudate Dominum and the Ora Pro Nobis from Regina Coeli K128. It was the first time I'd sung the Ora Pro Nobis and it appears that it was the first time anyone there had heard it which is a shame because it is the most gorgeous piece of music. The choir also discovered a new talent we hope to retain, Joy Kerr, who sang a marvellous rendition of 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord?' 

By Sunday evening I was well and truly sung out and the medicinal application of chocolate and wine was a necessity. And now it is full steam ahead with Dido, reminding myself that I don't have to rush the phrases, that Purcell was very fond of word-painting and I can use that to colour the notes. 

Once a Day and Twice on Sundays.

I sing with the small choir at St Mary's Basilica in Invercargill, usually every second Sunday. So far, I don't think they have figured out that they have a cuckoo in the nest, me being a Baptist-raised agnostic, although my ingrained version of the Lord's Prayer complete with thou's and trespasses might have tipped them off. Anyway, it is a musical education for me, as I learn all the setting of the Glorias, Amens etc. Every so often I get thrown into the Cantor role, where I have to concentrate very hard. It's a whole different style of singing and at the moment I still tend to sing it as a song rather than as musical speech. But I'm slowly getting there.

The other great thing about singing with this choir (I use the term choir relatively loosely given that on a good day we have one bass, two tenors, two altos and two sopranos) is that there is often solo work to do - an aria from Messiah, the Vicar of Dibley version of The Lord is My Shepherd and so on. We sit up in the choir stalls so are hidden from the view of all but the Priest and any parishioners who dare to risk putting a neck vertebra out of alignment to have a look. That means the focus is on the music and not the person singing which is much more relaxing. The acoustics are great too.

Easter in the Catholic Church is A Big Deal. From Holy Thursday we sang every day and twice on Sunday. I love that we get to sing plainchant and music that has endured for centuries in the same form. It's amazing to think that the notes we sing are the very same as would have been sung by someone in the 12th century. I had quite a bit to do, including Cantor work and two Mozart arias - the Laudate Dominum and the Ora Pro Nobis from Regina Coeli K128. It was the first time I'd sung the Ora Pro Nobis and it appears that it was the first time anyone there had heard it which is a shame because it is the most gorgeous piece of music. The choir also discovered a new talent we hope to retain, Joy Kerr, who sang a marvellous rendition of 'Were you there when they crucified my Lord?' 

By Sunday evening I was well and truly sung out and the medicinal application of chocolate and wine was a necessity. And now it is full steam ahead with Dido, reminding myself that I don't have to rush the phrases, that Purcell was very fond of word-painting and I can use that to colour the notes. 

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Yes. Yes I Can.

This photo was taken after I got home from the concert. Because if my dearly beloved had tried to take this photo beforehand, I would have a) most definitely not been smiling and b) snapped at him for...oh I don't know, taking too long, not taking long enough, not finding a better place to pose...heck I would have found something. I was wound up tighter than a badly-tuned lute.

So to the concert. I was second last on the schedule. There were some lovely items before mine. At least I'm sure they were lovely because they were all by people I know and love who would have sung/played beautifully. I have no idea really, because all the time they were performing the little voice in my head was going "You have to sing the Alleluia! You have to do all the runs without ending up in the rose bushes! You have to sing a top C at the end. Fleeeee!!!"  Except I couldn't flee because I was sandwiched in the middle of the row between all the other performers.

As the singers among you will know (Hi Sarah! Hi Amanda!) singing without a warm-up is far from ideal. As a soloist in a choral work, you can usually do some humming exercises under-cover of a loud chorus but no such opportunity here. The first word I was due to sing was 'Es' so not even the assistance of a  consonant to get me started.

So finally the moment arrived. I stood up, moved gracefully up to the stage in my new posh frock (if it was going to be a disaster at least people could say "Never mind dear, you looked lovely" as I sobbed into the folds of my chiffon skirt). First up 'Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen'. At least the tessitura was nice and low to middling. I probably mangled the German but all in all it went well. Next up was what the organisers had described in a newspaper article earlier in the week as a 'highlight of the concert' - the hymn written by the late Russell Cowley 'Sweeter Sounds Than Music Knows'. Apart from a bit of a tight-sounding 'sweeter' at the start, I think Russell would have been happy with my rendition.

And then, old Short-and-Deadly, the Alleluia. I'm going to go a bit stream of consciousness on y'all here and channel the voice in my head. Accompanist starts at a nice comfortable pace. First few phrases nice and firm and clear. Here comes the first run, big breath, muscles supporting and......away we go! Nice and even, no mistakes - bit tight on the A at end of the run but not bad, not bad. First half down, no dramas. But uh-oh, second section, the big runny bit and....... hey no worries, all in one breath, no mistakes, niiiice smooth singing on the offbeat accented bit. Woo I can do this!! Settle petal we've still got that top C. Open throat, here it comes, take foot off pedal to prevent yodel.....oh bit over-excited there, small yodel, don't care IdiditIdiditIdidit!!!

And there you have it, a mountain has been scaled and I can't tell you what a weight off my chest that is. Next up a whole bunch of lovely Mozart for Easter church services and then into Dido & Aeneas. Thanks for putting up with my drama queen-ness darlings :)

Yes. Yes I Can.

This photo was taken after I got home from the concert. Because if my dearly beloved had tried to take this photo beforehand, I would have a) most definitely not been smiling and b) snapped at him for...oh I don't know, taking too long, not taking long enough, not finding a better place to pose...heck I would have found something. I was wound up tighter than a badly-tuned lute.

So to the concert. I was second last on the schedule. There were some lovely items before mine. At least I'm sure they were lovely because they were all by people I know and love who would have sung/played beautifully. I have no idea really, because all the time they were performing the little voice in my head was going "You have to sing the Alleluia! You have to do all the runs without ending up in the rose bushes! You have to sing a top C at the end. Fleeeee!!!"  Except I couldn't flee because I was sandwiched in the middle of the row between all the other performers.

As the singers among you will know (Hi Sarah! Hi Amanda!) singing without a warm-up is far from ideal. As a soloist in a choral work, you can usually do some humming exercises under-cover of a loud chorus but no such opportunity here. The first word I was due to sing was 'Es' so not even the assistance of a  consonant to get me started.

So finally the moment arrived. I stood up, moved gracefully up to the stage in my new posh frock (if it was going to be a disaster at least people could say "Never mind dear, you looked lovely" as I sobbed into the folds of my chiffon skirt). First up 'Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen'. At least the tessitura was nice and low to middling. I probably mangled the German but all in all it went well. Next up was what the organisers had described in a newspaper article earlier in the week as a 'highlight of the concert' - the hymn written by the late Russell Cowley 'Sweeter Sounds Than Music Knows'. Apart from a bit of a tight-sounding 'sweeter' at the start, I think Russell would have been happy with my rendition.

And then, old Short-and-Deadly, the Alleluia. I'm going to go a bit stream of consciousness on y'all here and channel the voice in my head. Accompanist starts at a nice comfortable pace. First few phrases nice and firm and clear. Here comes the first run, big breath, muscles supporting and......away we go! Nice and even, no mistakes - bit tight on the A at end of the run but not bad, not bad. First half down, no dramas. But uh-oh, second section, the big runny bit and....... hey no worries, all in one breath, no mistakes, niiiice smooth singing on the offbeat accented bit. Woo I can do this!! Settle petal we've still got that top C. Open throat, here it comes, take foot off pedal to prevent yodel.....oh bit over-excited there, small yodel, don't care IdiditIdiditIdidit!!!

And there you have it, a mountain has been scaled and I can't tell you what a weight off my chest that is. Next up a whole bunch of lovely Mozart for Easter church services and then into Dido & Aeneas. Thanks for putting up with my drama queen-ness darlings :)

Friday, 16 March 2012

I can do it. No, I can't!! Well, maybe I can?

So the Concert South 100th concert is this Sunday. You know, the one where I have to sing the Mozart Alleluia. With all the runny bits and the high C at the end. The piece I have renamed not-so-affectionately as 'Short and Deadly'.

Rewind to Tuesday this week. I went and had a first practice with my accompanist. We ran through Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen. Fine - once we'd worked out the weird repeat markings in this particular version. We did 'Sweeter Sounds than Music Knows'. Nothing too terrible there. And then....the Alleluia. If singing this piece was the equivalent of cycling down a straight path between two beds of rose bushes, then by the end of the first runny bit you would have found me upside down, impaled on rose thorns, bleeding copiously with bits of bicycle strewn over the pathway. Not pretty. The high C was a yodel on C/C#. I bet even the Topp Twins couldn't manage that and I did it without even trying. Ha! 

Cue hyperventilation. And me explaining to the accompanist that it might really not be a great idea to repeat this scenario at an actual concert. Because really it would be a like a car crash you have to drive past where you don't want to look but you just can't help it. I said I would make a decision the following day after my singing lesson. 

Wednesday, lesson. (And an opportunity to coo at my teacher's brand new gorgeous little girl). Me: I just can't do the coloratura bits with that pearls-on-a-string technique-thingy!! Teacher: Well that's not a problem, these are essentially scales, they can be done legato. Me: Oh? really? .......

Half an hour later...♫♪ Aaaaaaa, a-a-le-e-lu-u-ia aaaaaaaaaaaa ♪♫ So maybe I really can do this! Me: OK but what about the hIgh yodel - I mean high C? I can do it if  I make a really narrow pathetic sound like this *makes narrow pathetic sound* but if I try and do it full voice I do this *yodels*. Teacher:  What's wrong with the first one? It will just ping out - don't forget you're in a Church which will help fill the sound out. Just don't put any welly on it and it will be fine. 

And so here we are, two days out from the concert and there is no.turning.back.  Stay tuned for the next instalment which will either be happily triumphant or strangely echo-y having been written from the depths of the hole I dug myself. 

I can do it. No, I can't!! Well, maybe I can?

So the Concert South 100th concert is this Sunday. You know, the one where I have to sing the Mozart Alleluia. With all the runny bits and the high C at the end. The piece I have renamed not-so-affectionately as 'Short and Deadly'.

Rewind to Tuesday this week. I went and had a first practice with my accompanist. We ran through Es Ist Ein Ros Entsprungen. Fine - once we'd worked out the weird repeat markings in this particular version. We did 'Sweeter Sounds than Music Knows'. Nothing too terrible there. And then....the Alleluia. If singing this piece was the equivalent of cycling down a straight path between two beds of rose bushes, then by the end of the first runny bit you would have found me upside down, impaled on rose thorns, bleeding copiously with bits of bicycle strewn over the pathway. Not pretty. The high C was a yodel on C/C#. I bet even the Topp Twins couldn't manage that and I did it without even trying. Ha! 

Cue hyperventilation. And me explaining to the accompanist that it might really not be a great idea to repeat this scenario at an actual concert. Because really it would be a like a car crash you have to drive past where you don't want to look but you just can't help it. I said I would make a decision the following day after my singing lesson. 

Wednesday, lesson. (And an opportunity to coo at my teacher's brand new gorgeous little girl). Me: I just can't do the coloratura bits with that pearls-on-a-string technique-thingy!! Teacher: Well that's not a problem, these are essentially scales, they can be done legato. Me: Oh? really? .......

Half an hour later...♫♪ Aaaaaaa, a-a-le-e-lu-u-ia aaaaaaaaaaaa ♪♫ So maybe I really can do this! Me: OK but what about the hIgh yodel - I mean high C? I can do it if  I make a really narrow pathetic sound like this *makes narrow pathetic sound* but if I try and do it full voice I do this *yodels*. Teacher:  What's wrong with the first one? It will just ping out - don't forget you're in a Church which will help fill the sound out. Just don't put any welly on it and it will be fine. 

And so here we are, two days out from the concert and there is no.turning.back.  Stay tuned for the next instalment which will either be happily triumphant or strangely echo-y having been written from the depths of the hole I dug myself. 

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

A Question

Tyler, after getting out of the shower: If I put the water in this ear *points to left ear* will it come out of that ear? *points to right ear*

We certainly hope not :)

Random things:

  • Tyler scored his first goal at soccer.
  • His Flippaball team has won all their game so far.
  • Chris has been to Touch Nationals with the Southland Mens 40's. 
  • I'm singing in a concert on March 18th and then an opera on April 28th.
  • We've had a cracker summer, unlike the rest of the country.
  • Angry Birds is the best game ever.



Sunday, 26 February 2012

When I am laid, am laid in earth.....

...squeeeeeeeee!!! ♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♪ !!!!!

Ahem.....sorry about that, normal transmission is now resuming.....

Yes my friends, I have secured the part of Dido and to say I am excited would be the understatement of the year!

Right enough excitement.... Ah, ah, ah Belinda, I am press'd with torment.........

When I am laid, am laid in earth.....

...squeeeeeeeee!!! ♪♫♫♪♫♪♫♪ !!!!!

Ahem.....sorry about that, normal transmission is now resuming.....

Yes my friends, I have secured the part of Dido and to say I am excited would be the understatement of the year!

Right enough excitement.... Ah, ah, ah Belinda, I am press'd with torment.........