I'm excited and quite nervous at the prospect of a new event that's coming up for me in November. I will be singing a solo piece at a show organised by my singing teacher! It took me long enough to join a Musical Society, and when I had to audition for that (3 years ago) I was so nervous that I just sang the song with my head bowed down looking at the sheet music - it's a wonder anyone could even hear me, never mind enjoy listening to the performance! I've always liked singing, have sung in choirs at school and along to my favourite songs in musicals that I grew up with, but always lacked the confidence in my singing voice to sing in front of other people unless in a group. Therefore I decided to do something about this and earlier this year I started having singing lessons. I'm learning so much about the techniques as well as improving my confidence so hopefully by the time my solo performance is here I will be ready for it!
My teacher, Stephanie Bain, has helped me enormously with my confidence (although I still only practice at home if I'm alone in the house) and I'm sure she has guided me in choosing the song I'm going to be singing. I usually sing Soprano with the musical society, but have been singing a fair few songs in my lower range, which is perhaps what first introduced me to the song "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret. I had a selection of songs that I quite fancied singing, which included "On My Own" from Les Miserables, but when I tried to sing that at one of my lessons, I had to stop half-way through because I started crying! That particular song was then crossed off the list, and I tried others - "As Long As He Needs Me" from Oliver, "I Dreamed A Dream" from Les Miserables, "The Sound of Music" from The Sound of Music and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" from Evita. Although I didn't think I had a favourite amongst those, every time I thought about my choices, "Maybe This Time" kept jumping out at me, and I couldn't get the tune out of my head!
Two weeks ago I tried out my song choices using a backing track - again, something I'd never done before. Karaoke machines have always scared the life out of me so I've never been on one! I then whittled it down to either "Maybe This Time" or "As Long As He Needs Me". By the time my lesson came round last week, I knew I wanted to sing "Maybe This Time" and we started working on it. When Stephanie first suggested to me that I sing a solo piece in her show, I naively had visions of me singing a sweet tune to her piano, perhaps something similar to something I would perform as part of a group. Ha! I should've known different, really - I will be trying to make the song unique to me (which I never realised you could do - or perhaps I just didn't understand how it worked, more like), belting it out when needed and holding back in other areas to give the performance more shape. I can understand how boring it would be if I just stood upright and sang, so I will be making it more of an acting performance as well hopefully - using a microphone and backing track. Since I've never used a microphone for singing before either, that will be something new to learn!
One of the main reasons I started having singing lessons was to improve my confidence so that I would feel able to audition for a part in a show - rather than spend all the time in the chorus. This time last year, there's no way I would've even considered singing a solo piece, so my lessons have started to take effect already. I have learnt so much from Stephanie, not just about my own ability, but lots of tips on breathing properly (from your stomach rather than your chest), how to make your voice resonate more (resonance is volume without shouting) by using a simple exercise, and the difference between your head voice and your chest voice (which I didn't even know about, although I'd heard the term). Your chest voice is usually the one you use for singing in a lower register and you can feel your chest vibrating when you sing in your chest voice - as you progress up the register, you switch to your head voice and the vibration is then found in your head (not surprisingly) - most probably at the bridge of your nose. Having singing lessons is helping me to make the transition between the two voices as imperceptible as possible.
The big event takes place on November 18th. I may be writing more about my progress as the weeks go by - this week I have been practising at home with the backing track and so far I've at least managed to learn the lyrics, which is actually quite good for me - I'm usually rubbish at lyrics, even though I can learn pages of a script for a play with no problem at all!!!