Singing for the soul

I’m sure most of you know that music is one of my main passions in life. Particularly (but not exclusively) classical music.

I have been involved in classical music since before I was born – my eldest brother played the flute, and I’m sure hearing it whilst I was still in utero had lasting effects. As a baby, my mum proudly observed me tapping my foot along to Adam’s flute playing. It wouldn’t be long before I’d want to produce the music myself.

Age 5, my parents decided to foster my musical instinct by buying me an upright piano. My mother still has said piano in her dining room but is trying to get rid of it, much to my distress. She’s got an interested buyer, but he currently does not have money to spare. However, my mum has given him a limit of until the end of the year – if he hasn’t bought it by then, I’m allowed to take it to London and play it in my garage 😀

From here on, it was an uphill struggle – any of you who have ever played a musical instrument will know that they require quite a lot of practice. Which is a shame – I like fast results. But it did help me become more disciplined. I was never going to be brilliant at the piano, but it definitely focussed my mind and it was (and still is) very relaxing.

Age 8, I took up the violin. This was even LESS for me, as I am quite heavy handed – maybe I could play gypsy violin, but that’s not how my terribly middle class teacher wanted it played. Boo.

The real breakthrough came aged 10 – I took up the double bass after seeing it played at an orchestral “showcase”. I took to it instantly. I had my grade 4 within the space of a few months.

Wow, this photo is probably dated pre-new millenium.

The double bass is my musical lifeblood. I never did get my grade 8 (I hated scales) but started playing with the Sussex Symphony Orchestra when I was about 15 (you can actually see me on that photo of bass players on the front page – that’s me on the far end). Unfortunately, since I moved to London and my bass still lives in Sussex with my mum, I rarely get to play any more. However, I still get calls, out of the blue, from orchestras in Sussex – “Susan Denyer (my old teacher) gave us your number… are you free on (DATE)? We’ll pay you”, which is always a bonus.

But the next big leap forward came when I was 16, and my mum finally decided it might be a good idea to put me in for singing lessons. I had always been a singer, but never had any official training. Well, in the space of two years (before I finished my A-levels) I had my grade 8 distinction. Win.

I’ve had some lessons with the wonderful soprano Alison Pearce, and been to a few masterclasses in Grimsby, led by her. A couple of years ago, I auditioned for and was accepted into the English Arts Chorale (based in Reigate, Surrey). Since studies and volunteering took over, music has taken a bit of a back seat for me, but it’s always there. I still sing regularly with the EAC, and like I mentioned before, I get random bookings for my bass playing even now. I even sang at my big brother’s wedding last month.

The EAC performs many times a year, throughout the south east (and sometimes in East Anglia!), and to a very high standard. Our next concert, in Dorking, is coming up in a few weeks time. Why not come along?

But enough about me – what about you? Are you musical? What’s your background in music? What do you love to play or sing? It needn’t be classical – I’m partial to a bit of blues too, plus my mp3 library contains everything from Death in Vegas to David Bowie…

But if you DO sing classical music, you may have heard of Eric Whitacre, a very prolific and talented (and hideously attractive) American composer. He has just launched his Virtual Choir 2011 project, and is inviting all singers to get involved. Basically, you download the sheet music and instructions, record yourself singing in front of a webcam, and send it in! Whitacre will then splice all the recordings together, add reverb and so forth and hey presto… A Virtual Choir.

Let me know if you intend to take part – I most certainly will!

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One thought on “Singing for the soul

  1. Pingback: Music: Prokofiev « Unravelled

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