Thursday, March 22, 2007

Epiphany! Or, Why Ex-Ballerinas Make Bad Singers


I started singing lessons two weeks ago, after convincing myself it was worth the Friday evening traffic jam and hyperventilating over sounding like a fool in front of the teacher.

It didn't go quite that badly of course, but she did have to teach me how to breathe properly - this being one of the main reasons I decided to take lessons in the first place. The first twenty minutes were a whole new dimension of head - clue - please meet. The concept is actually absurdly simple - relaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaax, and take a breath.

Someone's said also that the easiest concepts are usually the ones that you don't catch till you're at the end of a long, hopefully fruitful life.

My teacher tried everything she knew to get me to relax and not stiffen up and stand like a military guardsman because that makes for -wrong- breathing. Finally, she gave up and had me go home to practice this at the end of lesson.

Last week started off a little better. Just to check if I was actually getting enough air intake into my lungs, my teacher put her hands on my ribcage and said, Loosen up! Relax! Let it all hang out!

To which my immediate reaction was to look at her in horror and go, ...BUT I'LL LOOK FAT SIDEWAYS IF I DO THAT!

DUH. Ex-ballerina here - back straight, butt in, stomach in. It's an ingrained, worse-than-military instinct which dictates that on NO occasion shall you allow your stomach to hang out like a trucker's beer gut. Straight! Straight! Posture! Plie! Tendu! ...Ahem.

After that little mallet of realization, breathing was -not- a problem any more.

I'm looking forward to lessons tomorrow, really I am. And learning to sing my first Italian song.


On another note --Constance! This drawing is specially for, and dedicated, to you because you are a feisty, spunky, completely wonderful lady just like those Qin women so long ago, and I give you many, many hugs (you know what I'm talking about).

This is (quite obviously) markers, ink pens of varying sizes, and watercolour. I have no idea what possessed me to play with pink shadows, except I had a loaded brush full of pale red paint and I remembered that in the olden days, they used to paint the corners of eyes red for beauty. Then it all suddenly went WUMPF, you have pink shadows on a pale face like a mask. It's an experiment that I think came out pretty well for once!

And now back to trying to sing Debussy's 'Yver' from Trois Chansons d'Orleans for Sunday's chamber choir --oh. Right. Yes. I made auditions for our performance choir's chamber choir two weeks ago! And of course, the FIRST thing we have to learn to sing is...something in French...erm. See my tongue KNOT.

Thank HEAVENS for recordings of Canto Armonico singing the entire thing (and DO check them out if you like fantastic choral singing. Hungarian. Oooooooooooooooooooooh does not begin to -describe- it.)


Mauricio said...


Nice, nice!!!!!

good weekend

Lyrically speaking said...

This is cool, i'm so happy you dedicated the pic to Constance, she needs our encouragement. She's also too talented for her own good

constance said...

oh shuku! Hugsssss!!!! Thank you so much for such a beauty! How I wish I'm as beautiful as she is :)

Thank you so much for your words shuku....thank you is really not enough....

I would love to hear you sing someday :) Do let us know when will you next perform and I'll see if I can get a ticket...I'm quite a good 'listener' you know...after all, I've had my own training in the toilet for many years now :D


hubcap10 said...

Your singing experience is hilarious.
Although I'm no ex-ballerina, I know what you mean about breathing. Good luck!

marcobucci said...


hahahah that made me laugh. I like the sketch too! Really has some solid feeling in it.

Alina Chau said...

lovely drawing. And thanks for sharing your inspiring singing lesson story. :)

cdeboda said...

Good luck and have fun with those lessons. :) Very nice art too!

Marcos Mateu said...

Now, you need a letter from your dancing teacher to excuse you from doing that!
Singing well , yes but, at that price?!

By the way, you mean you sing as you do without never having had a singing class?


fantastic!!!and like the draw

Anonymous said...

ZOMG UR ALIIIIIVE ZOMG!!!1!!oneeleven!!!

Ye holy gods above, woman, you vanished without a trace. Had I not gone back to check the date on which I got Emma Bull's autograph, I'd never have known you were here.

And yo. You can really draw, lady. I'm loving me that Dalek shell.

-- djadjamankh

Marcelo Vignali said...

Funny story as always. Now why would I want to paint the cows pink and purple?

constance said...

shuku, today is 17 April. Wonder if everything's ok at your end? Busy with work too ya? Have a great week ahead ok :)

Ale said...

haha thanks shuku for sharing this story, you made me smile :D
ahh i wish i could have your perfect posture, my back has always to fight against the gravity force and my brain has to fight to remember to stay straight! damned lightbox.... :)
by the way, the "italian song" makes me very curious! which one is that?
have a nice day and take care,

Zhen said...

*Gapes in amazement*