Thursday, March 27, 2008

Singing (ahem!) Lesson

Mee Mee and I came to know of this singing class conducted by an MCA Lifelong Learning Center through a newspaper recently. We'd been talking about going for singing classes for quite some time now, so we decided to give it a try despite the venue being quite far away from where we stay.

So we went. The exciting anticipation was intoxicating. Along the way, which was a loooong way, we wondered if we ought to warm up in the car - after all, we don't want to scare the teacher into a fainting fit the moment we opened our mouths. Then we went on to talk about our long-gone choir days. We remembered the times we went for choir practice with much eagerness and enthusiasm. Mee Mee reminded me about the time I requested our choir conductor to switch the place of a girl who kept singing out of tune because she distracted me (which I simply cannot recall I did, so this is really Mee Mee's word against mine...). We laughed over the times we made poor Bee Ree listen to us sing, and ooh, there was a time we showed her our newly-learned "dance" performance routine which caused bad Bee Ree to roll on her bed and laugh like a hyena.

At long last, we reached the Center and - (gah!) we forgot to warm up!

As we walked into the Center, I noticed a few middle-aged aunties and uncles. Well, the place was called "Lifelong Learning" and that is normally associated with old people. Anyhow, Mee Mee and I were still excited as we filled in the registration forms. Then, we walked into the room and I noticed that there wasn't a piano there. The excitment in me sort of dissipated a little. And then, I notice the teacher had written a series of numbers some with dots below them, some above them... and I, for a moment, was really quite overwhelmed with disappointment!

The lesson began soon with the teacher teaching us to sing "do re mi fa ... " corresponding to the numbers 1 - 7. My initial thought of how silly the lesson was began to dissolve into another thought of how such lessons could benefit us, in strengthening our singing basics (if there's anything such as basics in singing), because I noticed that there are many in the class who couldn't even hit the right notes, though we sung the scale in single steps. The high C (do, or 1 with a dot on top) was a combination of some chickens being slaughtered and some cats strangled (though I'm pretty sure Mee Mee and I did not contribute to that awful noise concerto). "You do not necessarily need to be loud when you sing high notes," the teacher said, "Try to keep your voice clear, not forceful - unless the song requires it." (yea... hear that uncle and aunty sekalian? don't shout la!)

After a while, our teacher provided us a couple of songs written purely in numerals and taught us to sing the right notes just by looking at the numbers. This was when I discovered that singing a song wholly using do's, re's, mi's etc while looking at the 1's, 2's, 3's etc is not easy! My brain cannot map the numbers to the syllables at the same pace as the song. Frankly, my tongue was far less twisted with she sells seashells on the sea shore! The "textbook" for the class was a songbook compiled by our teacher, consisting of chinese folk songs and opera arias arranged by him, and a section of songs composed by him, all written in numerals 1 - 7 with dots on top, below and in-between, and the occassional 0 (we still don't know what 0 stands for...).

The one thing I learned from this lesson is the importance of proper training in achieving quality in the voice and singing, and in maintaining this quality. Our teacher was a wrinkled old man with a head sparsely covered with white hair, but could sing with a voice solid, powerful, and clear. I quite like him, and I think Mee Mee does too!

So, will we be going back for more lessons? Unfortunately, we won't. The lesson was good in some ways, but it does not justify the journey we had to take to get it. The place is just too damn far! Looks like Mee Mee and I will have to look for other more traveling- (and preferably cost-) effective singing lessons to take.

(pssst... if you know a good voice teacher, email me!)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Fluff Politics

Look what I'd stumbled upon:

This is one GRAND way of reaching out to the fluffing community! Bravo! Do drop by his fluffbook and pet the cute little puppog. Give it a bone too!


Thursday, March 6, 2008


Through the years, there had been many times when I'd met people who I hadn't seen for a while, or did not expect to see. The standard reaction would be a squeal, a little jump or a series of little jumps perhaps, and definitely a hug and many giggles. I'd seen friends do it, and had done it myself. I repeat, it is standard reaction.

Recently, due to CS's wedding, many friends who'd not seen each other for ages were brought together. My old friend, SL, whom I had not seen nor spoken to for 8 years called me on my mobile phone a few days prior to the bride's side wedding dinner and gave me such a shock (a pleasant shock, though, it was) that I jumped and squealed and jumped and couldn't say anything except squeaky 'OMG's for a full minute. On the day of the wedding, towards the end of the 'cocktail' portion, I finally met Princess E, whom I hadn't seen since 2006. We hugged and chirped simultaneously at the top of our voices, continuously for the first few minutes. When we got to our table in the ballroom where the dinner reception would take place, we noticed another friend whom we last saw several years ago, and yes, the usual ensued - three a-squealing, three a-hugging, and three a-grabbing each other by the arms while engaged in some small, quick, stationary hops. Aaahhh... the delight!

I'd wanted my friends to feel the same sort of exhilaration, and I had the perfect opportunity to do so because SL and I had a few common friends, and some of them who hadn't seen him in since the last millenium had no idea that he was physically back in this country. So I sent a few messages, made a few phone calls, and finally got the meeting set up. And what an eye-opening experience! The guys had no idea that SL would be with us that evening. I didn't believe their reactions:

First Guy: "Hey... you're here also!", a hearty hand-shake, followed by some basic how-are-you sort of questions.

Second Guy: "Oi! You came back?", a hand-shake, and then the predictable when-did-you-come-back sort of questions.

I confronted Second Guy - where was his reaction? That was supposed to be the surprise of his life and he did not react!

"Got, just now already reacted lor"

You call that a reaction?! Gah! I am not trying to over-react here, but that was waaaay under-reacting. I expected bigger, more intense expression of feelings after all the trouble I took to set the meeting up! At least hug each other, if you feel it un-manly to squeal. GAH!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

To or Not To

To vote or not to vote, of course. That is what everyone is talking about of late - even those who are not registered voters. I undertook this voting responsibility simply because I was old enough - kind of like donating blood. I personally have no interest in politics nor knowledge of what goes on in its murky world. One can hardly believe anything one reads, sees or hears, in this realm where all the pots call the kettles black, and the kettles accuse the pots of conducting heat. Honestly, how could one be absolutely sure that one is making the right decision when it comes to such pots and kettles? How to make a choice?

Several friends provided several amusing suggestions.

"If you don't like either candidate, rosakkan your undi lar" one told me. How? Put a tick instead of a cross; draw a circle; draw an arrow pointing to a name and label it 'I choose this'; draw a tortoise... you name it.

"I am going back to my hometown to vote for the Opposition!" declared another. Which opposition party? Apparently that is irrelevant. "DO NOT spoil your vote. Vote for ANYONE BUT BN. We must show them some colour!" someone said emphatically. The latter expressed similar sentiments as the former, but a lot (and I mean a LOT) more strongly.

"Aiya, just vote for the one you like lor..." someone else told me nonchalantly, perhaps believing that one teeny weeny tiny vote won't make much of a difference. But even my politic-illiterate self understand that every vote counts, and I mustn't think that mine doesn't. Furthermore, how do you define "liking" for anyone of those pots and kettles?

"Spend 2 hours to get to know those parties..." and this has got to be the sanest I've got. Well, I still stick to my opinion that you won't really get to "know" them in 2 hours. Perhaps not in this lifetime.

If you have to choose, please at least choose the lesser of the two evils.