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!)