Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Singers Anonymous.

It all started in primary school.

It was a typical audition. Dear "Miss" Lavender, our teacher, played the piano. It was in the days when, with no keyboards available, her back was necessarily to the class.

I did my song.

No-one told me to stand up, so I didn't. Being a law abiding student.

When the person who went after me was singing, the teacher turned round half way through and asked her to "STAND UP YOU SILLY GIRL. HOW DO YOU EXPECT TO BE ABLE TO SING SITTING DOWN?"

I wanted to put my hand up and tell her that I too had been sitting down.

But I didn't.

I sat quietly, like a mouse, and accepted my fate when I was told that my voice wouldn't make the choir.

I knew it to be the case of course anyway. My father, who has a lovely singing voice had told me that I wasn't a singer. My brothers 8 and 12 years older than me, constantly reminded me that I couldn't sing.

I never understood it though.

You see, my speaking voice has been my trademark. Throughout my life I have been praised for it, have acted with it, passed exams that needed "speaky type" things for it, and have been paid many mars bars worth of cash on occasion to use it for voice overs.

I used to say to my Dad. "I don't understand why I can't sing, when the same instrument provides my speaking voice."

"We can't all do everything." He would say. "You have a beautiful speaking voice"

I have sung of course over the years. In my way. I sing loudly at the children's Harvest Festival Services and Carol Services to the annoyance of my children. I sang children's songs when acting with my Theatre in Education Company, and I sang dozens of nursery rhymes to the children when they were little.

But Karaoke?

Well. What a mistake that was. Every time I got up to sing a song that I THOUGHT I knew, to a backing track that I definitely didn't know, I failed dismally, and of course reinforced my opinion and everyone else's that singing was just not my thing......

So then..........

I recently started going along to some acting workshops. As my last dramatic exit off the stage in March had made me vow never to return again to an Am Dram Society, I took a brave step. I dusted off my Equity Card and got in touch with some kind people at the theatre in Cheltenham who run courses for professional actors. I sent in my CV, half doubtful as to whether or not I would have had enough experience to be accepted. But they did. Accept me that is.

And it has all been going very well. I have really enjoyed myself over the last few weeks.

Then.......

Next on the list was the singing workshop. "How to pass a singing audition".

I quaked with fear. I had to prepare a song.

This was "Singers Anonymous" BIG TIME.

I had to do it. I had to overcome my fear.

I chose one.

"Maybe this Time", from Cabaret. Brave choice considering it was made famous by dear Liza Minnelli. But, in my wisdom I decided that I would and could do it. I grabbed my singing teacher for ten minutes in the break at my Stage School on Saturday. "You can sing. " she said. You just need to learn how to support your voice. She got me to belt it out like no tomorrow. I wasn't sure that I could do it......

Then in the afternoon, I grabbed another singing teacher, who said that
I could sing too, and that ideally that for the long term I should work on it in a lower key..... And that I should sing more....

Singing teacher number one very kindly offered me a lesson prior to the workshop. I set off, backing track in hand, determined to crack this singing thing..........

And in true Sally style, Hubby had the new car so I was driving ED's mini...And.... um... the clutch started slipping.

I rang Hubby. My singing teacher happens live in place where Hubby works. "You'll be fine he said. Carry on, and we can swap cars, and you can go home in the new one...."

I struggled on for a few more miles and then......... made the decision to return home, before I couldn't. Bar having to drop it back down a hill, so that I could get it going again, I managed to get it as far as our house, where the clutch went completely, just in front of our door......

It was fate.

But I didn't get my singing lesson.

Hubby got home with the other car, in time for me to get out to my workshop.....

The first two hours were brilliant. We had an amazingly "tolerant of 'non proper singing actors' " MD running the evening, and he got us to sing notes that we didn't even know existed..... He said that he very much likes actors singing, because they put across songs well, and people can understand what is being sung. He said that on the other hand, when opera singers sing, you need sub titles, even when they sing in English...

Then it was solo time.

My heart was in my mouth.

We had almost got through the group. It was 9.20, and the workshop was due to finish at 9.30. Maybe there wouldn't be time for my song after all... In fact, I could walk out with my head held very high, and everyone would have known that I COULD sing. I had just sadly, run out of time....

"Sally?" said the the MD.

I stood up. I was shaking. I dropped my music. I dropped my backing track. Not that I needed it of course, as we had pianist. I picked up the music again. I walked over to the keyboard.

"I need to have the melody line" I said. "Otherwise I have no hope."

"Shhh, said the MD. Don't tell them that" (Them being 'the others'. "Tell me. I'm your friend."

I whispered, in a stage whisper. "I need the melody line..."

I announced to the audience before I started that like many others in the room that night I too was a recovering non singer....

And then I sang.

Then he made some suggestions, and he dropped it down three keys for me.

And I sang again.

He told me to "belt" the last bit.

So I did.

I sang the whole song for a third time.

In tune.

Dramatically.

And VERY loudly. Incredibly loudly. I shocked myself.

I got a big clap.........

They said it was brilliant.

It was of course a room full of actors, so we are habitually overly nice to each other......

But I did do it...........

And then then I shook for the next three hours.

27 comments:

Mary Alice said...

Oh, Sally what a wonderful story. I swear I was having cold sweats FOR you, I could so imagine your discomfort. Hurray. You did it. And all it took was someone believing in you. That tells us a lot about life doesn't it?

Alix said...

Well done! I was getting nervous just reading about it. I'm so glad you did it and that it was fantastic. I'm sure your feeling great now the shaking has stopped. Congratulations

headless chicken said...

Oh Sally....WELL DONE!!!!! Will give you a huge smile when I see you at school!!!:D
Great post by the way.X

ChrisB said...

Sally from one who can't sing a note I am so full of admiration for you. So congratulations, I bet you felt marvelous once you got over the shakes.

enidd said...

well done, sally! how wonderful to find a new talent like that! enidd is looking forward to your san francisco tour.

john.g. said...

Woot, woot, well done you. I can't sing for sh*t!

thefoodsnob said...

Sally,
Congratulations! I'm STILL shaking for you!
What a wonderful thing to face your fear head-on and conquer it! Be proud of yourself!

Lisa

Alice Band said...

I've still got a cassette tape somewhere of me and my husband's friends Karaoking to Summer Nights. It's bloody awful but I LOVED it!! Bloody well done Sal!

Asha said...

But you did it in the end, good for you!! That was a good read. We all have something we are not confident about but trying is half the battle!:))

Sally Lomax said...

Hi Mary Alice, Alix, HC, Chris, Enidd, John, Lisa, Alice and Asha!

Yes - Stopped shaking now. And am pleased I did it!! Very true what you said MA.... I think think that you should put the tape on the blog AB!!

Flowerpot said...

that was incredibly brave Sally. I havent done an audition for years but it brought it all back. Well done you!

pierre l said...

Well I think the others have pretty well said it all. What suspense. And a boost to your confidence as well.
I have relatives in Cheltenham that I don't see very often. So, when you get work there, I will definitely come and see you.

Stratford Girl said...

You are very brave - and by the sounds of it a good singer! Congratulations!
SG
x

Karmyn R said...

Yeah!!! Good Job! I bet you've been able to sing all along - your father telling you that in grade school just when your voice was changing or something.

Sally Lomax said...

Thanks Flowerpot!
Thanks Pierre. As it happens we are doing a showcase in March. I'll be doing a monologue I know, and I'm not sure what else yet. Part of the course really, but at the Everyman nevertheless.
Thanks SG! And hello!!
Thanks Karmyn. You are probably right. Confidence is the key to so many things isn't it?

Sally Lomax said...

Meant to say.....Enidd - The SF tour may be a while though.......

dedicated driver said...

Poor carless ED. How will she get around?

Sally Lomax said...

DD ..... Hello!

It will hopefully be fixed by tomorrow.... and um... she hasn't passed her test yet. So normal chauffeur and otherwise bus services will resume soon....

Beckie said...

I visit sometimes, but never comment. This just hit so close to home that I had to say GOOD JOB!

Wendz said...

I cannot sing either. My best friends at school could sing like angels and were in the school choir...and got to be on Tv a few times...but not me....glass shatters when I sing. And now I have this awful complex about it...even my kids used to ask me to stop singing!

So well done Sally..that was very brave and I am glad it went so well.

pierre l said...

19th and 20th of March, I assume. I'll definitely aim to be there. Have fun with the preparations and training. Yes, I know it's work, but hopefully interesting work.

Akelamalu said...

Great post and well done you!

meredic said...

And will there be a record posted on here any time soon? I should love to hear that.
I reckon I would like a bash at this singing lark again after reading this.

Pamela said...

Now just keep it up in the shower, in the car, in the super market, while you're vacuuming. YYou could be the next Petula Clark.

theotherbear said...

Good on you!
I love to sing but am not as talented as I am keen! I went to karaoke one night and my friend (who sings VERY well) said to me "You know, you wouldn't be so bad if you really tried to sing rather than joking around". Er... that was no joke, that was me trying. Yeah, so I haven't done it since.
Good on you for overcoming it so successfully!

Beccy said...

Well done Sally.

When I was six I was told to mouth songs by a teacher as I couldn't sing, she scarred me for life.

Sally Lomax said...

Wendz - I think you should face your fears! I bet you can sing!
Thanks Pierre!
Thank you Ak!
You should Meredic!
Pam - Well Pet Clarke is possibly ambitious.... but the shower is a good idea!I am singing far more than I ever did at the moment.
The Other Bear - according to my friend Marilyn who is a singer and singing teacher, it's all to do with breathing and confidence.... So ignore them and keep singing!
Beccy - These people are awful aren't they? Face your fears too! (See comment to Wendz! Ditto..)