Elowen begins…

I’ve just started psychology volunteering, but it looks as though it’s gonna be a long haul. I need cash in order to fund it. Time was, you took on a job and they trained you. Now, you pay for your own training and then work for free….

I have been toying with the idea of taking on some badly paid 9-5 but I’m worried that won’t give me enough flexibility to do the volunteering, which kinda defeats the purpose. Then I thought, sod it, I’ve spent all this time trying to get my singing technique up and running and now that I finally feel really confident with it, I should try and make some money with it.

Last year, Sally Holliday, my pal and photographer extraordinaire, and I got a few gigs in my local area singing classical and Christmas songs as a duo. It was pretty good fun and our busking session on Christmas eve went really well, so we thought we’d revisit it this year.

Last weekend, we sang through some numbers,  decided on a name, Elowen (we just thought it sounded nice) grabbed a couple of matching ballgowns and headed to Piercefield woods for a photo shoot! Recordings and website to follow, watch this space….

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Planning on going busking…with my pal the Yellow Book

I have pretty much accepted that work is gonna slow down, or indeed grind to a halt over August…so here’s an idea….

I’m getting back into singing…I need practice…I also need cash. I have an battery powered amp and a mic Being the world’s worst pianist,  I have backing tracks for several popular arias that I have learned over the years. I also have a phone that I can load them on to. What better way to bring all this together than to do a spot of busking?

If anyone knows any classical singers, chances are that they will own a copy of “24 Italian songs and arias”, otherwise known as “the yellow book”. We all get it when we first start classical singing, and we almost always learn “caro mio ben” first too. (I learned Amarilli, mia bella, because Cecilia Bartoli did it on one of her albums)

I never had much time for the yellow book, I wanted to get on with the more dramatic well-known arias, but it occurred to me that busking might be the perfect opportunity to get better acquainted with the songs in it as too many big arias may well prove taxing in one busking session. And I also have backing tracks on a CD for every single one, thus saving me money on MP3s.

And, so far, I’m having a lovely time listening to them and trying to get a feel for which I want to do first. When I’ve got the hang of them, all I then need to do grow a thick skin, put on a nice dress, and hit the streets…that will be the hardest part…

Time to get back to singing…

Yesterday I was honoured to be asked by a friend to sing at her father’s funeral. It was a very last minute gig, and I was somewhat apprehensive as I have been hacking and coughing for over a week, and lost my voice over the weekend.

Determined to be able to do it, I did a load of gentle sirening exercises and managed to rehab my voice enough to be able to sing Panis Angelicus during the service. Although it was more of a struggle than it would usually have been, I was pleased with how it went.

Us singers go through all kinds to be able to do the job. We stress and we worry, we go without regular meals in order to pay for singling lessons, scores and courses, and frequently wonder why we put ourselves through it and dream of a nice stable job.

Yesterday, I was reminded of why I sing. In my younger days, it was all about me, about the buzz that I got from standing on stage and being the centre of attention. But yesterday, several people came up to me, thanked me for my performance and told me how it made them feel. Some said that it really felt as though something special was being added, that it was part of giving the deceased a good send-off. Some said that it allowed them to be able to drift away and take their minds off the stress and worry of the funeral arrangements, or even just that it took them to a place where they could just think and remember.

I don’t pretend to be the most fantastic or highly trained singer in the world, and I think that the comments could apply to any live vocal performance. However, I think that there is something really special about listening to a live singer, I find that there is something really primal, uplifting and “human” about it all. And I feel privileged to be able to give that experience to other people.

I think that I would really like to sing at more funerals. Having lost both parents in my early twenties and being able to remember the sadness and the vulnerability of that particular time, it would give me great satisfaction to be able to bring comfort to other people in that situation. There is never a right time to lose someone close to you, and no matter how old you are, nothing really prepares you for it. I will always be grateful for the fantastic funeral directors that we used, and being able to do my part to help other people with whatever skills I have would make me feel as though I’m part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

So yes, time to get back on the horse and get cracking. I have ordered some new business cards advertising my services as a singer, and once my voice returns, I’ll get learning some new repertoire. I think I’m going to start with this beautiful setting of Ave Maria by Schubert