The idea of holding a 'recital' was inspired by a friend's traditional birthday concert. He loves to sing. And he does have a nice voice and excellent showmanship. And since he holds quite a comfortable position, he is able to assemble resources to hold his own concert during his birthdays. I have to admit that the idea made me cringe the first time I was invited. It seemed so ... conceited? self-promoting?
Those notions were quickly dispelled, however, as I watched and became so entertained by my friend's singing and his in-between spiels. He truly is a gifted entertainer. And people were just too glad to have been invited for free to have a great time.
And now, I, too, am enjoying singing. The voice lessons have made me confident to share my talent. And my teacher has always been encouraging me to just go out there and sing. An actual performance is the best way to get feedback.
The final opportunity came with my mom's 75th birthday celebration. The idea was to hold it at the elderly home she volunteers at and have a simple merienda cena. And to entertain her guests with my 'mini-concert'! She loved the idea! And soon the wheels were set in motion.
Unfortunately, as the event drew closer, my voice teacher became indisposed. So I relied mainly on some songs I felt comfortable with. And I arranged for a pianist-friend of my mom to accompany me. We set some rehearsals that went fine.
A week before the event, disaster struck. I developed a cough that soon became laryngitis, after I 'jammed' with a client at her home. I noticed how my throat was starting to hurt as I sang those pop songs of yesteryears (Barry Manilow). Lesson No. 1: Realize that pop singing is very different and can actually hurt my voice box.
So days before the event, I had lost my voice and I was coughing terribly. And to recover fast, I had to abstain from singing until it healed. What I thought would have been more days for practice and rehearsal turned to naught. However, I could not be quiet all the time! I still had to speak at the office.
We had to do one final rehearsal the night before. And thankfully, my voice was at 70%, enough to run through the songs with the pianist. But I realized then, that it wasn't just my voice, I haven't fully memorized some of the songs. Lesson No. 2: Never include songs that have not been fully studied. Ever.
I did my online research and consulted my dad (a doctor). I took some corticosteroids for the immediate reduction of the inflammation. Truth be told, I first heard about it while watching 'Smash' the TV series. Yes, it worked miracles for I felt wonderful on the day itself. And I was trying to be as restful as possible (the program was scheduled at 3pm) in the morning. But one could not fully be rested since I also happened to be chief coordinator of the party. So I was still making sure the caterers, the sound system, etc. were all properly set up. Lesson No. 3: Ask for help. Concentrate on the singing.
Finally, the program started. The prayer my sister offered at the start of the program helped to calm me down. Then it was up to me. Because I was emcee, too. And when I started to sing my first few songs, the Kundimans, I realized that I was still soooo scared. I was hitting the notes but my voice was so weak and unsteady. What's worse was that I actually forgot the lyrics of one! Horror of horrors! But what to do but just smile.
What helped me relax some more were the in-between spiels. I did my homework, researching on the songs so I had something to say. And as I saw them responding to my little quips, I started to relax and enjoy. And the duets with my sister (who was equally nervous) helped me ease up. Shared misery.
The Broadway songs I enjoyed singing, especially 'The Unexpected Song.' And I was starting to really get into my element. By the time I did the tenor classics (O Sole Mio, Santa Lucia), I was already soaring. For one, the key wasn't as high. And I was able to finally get my groove with the high notes. I was finally remembering all the lessons (the voice supports, etc.)
I did two Ave Marias, which came out not quite as I would have wanted it to. In one of them, I forgot the lyrics again. Sigh. For my final two songs, however, I was in control. These were songs I felt very confident singing because of much practice.
And then it was over! What a relief! And all of them were saying that they were entertained. I was being congratulated and thanked profusely by the audience, by the guests. And I just felt wonderful.
Then came the true feedback from people I trust and love - PC and my fag hag. PC politely said that I nailed the Italian songs but my Kundiman renditions were 'wanting'. My fag hag said exactly the same thing. I really came out so nervous singing the first songs. She was actually scared for me when I got to the high notes. LOL. Lesson No. 4: Precious, sincere feedback can only come from those who love you.
For a person who loves to sing, performing before a grateful audience is the sweetest thing. And if you approach this as a craft that you want to perfect, you will need to just put yourself out there and perform.
I could have done a lot better, I know now. I could have studied my pieces really well so I didn't need the sheet music in front of me. I could have totally rehearsed, including the spiels so it could all come out more effortlessly. And I should have practiced before the program itself, so my voice, which functions like a diesel engine, could have warmed up before the program.
So many lessons learned. But heck, that's part of the process. It only becomes a bad thing if I keep on repeating the same mistakes. Well, this is about performing, not my life. LOL.
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