My Instrument

I sing.  Or I did sing.  I started singing aged 10 at primary school.  I was trying to impress a girl.  It failed.  Ironically, my dearest best friend now actually fell for me when I was singing, but that is another story.

I don’t think at any point have I thought I was a good singer.  When I was asked by the school music teacher to take some singing lessons at 12.  When I sang solo for the first of many times aged 13 in our end of year assembly.  When I got 97% on my GCSE performance exam.  When I got Honours in my Grade 8 Musical Theatre exam at 18.  When I was really bemused as to how I was the only boy not called back for the college musical afterwards.  And now when I have a song online in the Swiss selection (and yes, please vote, even if it isn’t for me, vote for the best song!).

I found a good artistic outlet for me in singing and I am really proud of it.  I wish I was a bit better at it now though.  Although I was never a good singer in my eyes, I felt I was a good performer.  The only time I ever got nervous during my singing time at school was during the Rochdale Music Festival, where I was being judged on my vocal ability alone.  I am pretty sure I was last.   I could perform though – and do a solid job of it.  When I finished my Music Theatre exam, with show songs like Seasons of Love and Mr. Cellophane – I was doing all the technical stuff and ranging from top G’s and bottom G’s – but I was acting it out and the echo in the room was so thrilling on that final top note in the little portacabin the exam took place in.

My characterization is, for many reasons about me, always going to be a misfit, always going to be about somebody a bit strange.  Maybe that was the factor and that would be ok.  Maybe my voice was just too weird to work with for anybody – I don’t know.  I still loved it, and I still felt at least that I was doing an awesome job in the college musicals, and I would have loved a chance to have a bigger role to fit me.

Since then, my voice will have been deteriorating.  Nights out to schlager leave it in awful condition.  My falsetto was non-existant by 1 a.m. on Sunday morning at the superb OGAE Sweden AGM.  A bug I picked up when volunteering at a pre-school has given me a constant flem-filled throat.  Drinking can’t be advantageous either.

Pause.  I just walked past a friend at the bus station.  Haven’t seen in ages, indeed it was the person I stayed with when I first moved to Sweden – gosh that was over two years ago.  My instinct was to avoid contact – and I could have taken a step back, and said hello for the one minute while I waited for the bus – that fleeting – but I didn’t.  I hate myself right now – especially as this is somebody I have huge respect for.  If  you see this Annika, I am sorry, and I owe you dinner at mine.  It’s been too long.  Answers on a postcard about my weird behavior.

Anyway, people who are google-savvy will have found lots of great comments about my Eurovision song, and more interestingly about me and my lack of talent.   I know it’s not a nice voice, but I do think it suits the song and the imagery etc.  But gosh, I know my voice my weak – I can feel my technique crumbling every time I practice – but I was a little taken aback by the unity of that message online.  What really struck me was the struggle I had trying to lead a choir rehearsal, finding I was struggling to stay in key and I really needed to concentrate on it.  That was frustrating and an eye-opener to how bad this gotten.  I need to fix this.

Singing at school I do at the very least once a week – even if overworked from time to time – a late evening session on the music room keyboards is special to me.  That isn’t really training my voice though – it is songwriting and performing I am doing – I don’t really concentrate on what I am doing and I probably create more harm than good (and no, not just for the cleaners in the adjacent rooms).

So, my solution was that I looked into some choirs in Stockholm.  It has, unsurprisingly, a good selection.  Not perfect by any means, but there were a few who I’ve had a good look at online and I might maybe get in touch with.

However, I am scared about the possibility of not being free once a week to commit to it.

It would be good for me though – will keep you posted.

What I did discover were some pretty good professional acapella groups here in Stockholm.  Probably at a level way above what I want to do now – but acapella is one of my musical loves, arguably above Eurovision (and especially in the off season – and Eurovision fans, acapella can be so much better than With Love Baby and I Hear Your Heart).  I would pay to see some of them.  Internet searching took me further and I discovered this American show called The Sing Off.  It has been cancelled now, despite the high viewing figures, a shame because it was a great spotlight for acapella groups to a TV audience.

Pentatonix won the final series and they are sick!  For a five person acapella group I doubt they will be rivaled – they cover contempory songs and have not just the cute girl, but also a baritone as the lead singer and a sweet and goosebump creating tenor, but the dirtiest bass and percussion any acapella group ever could dream of.  They are up to date, young, can dance and have great formation control, the arrangements are slick and consistently trying to keep themselves modern – pushing the boundaries – they even make me like dubstep!  These have had some semi-big breaks and have an overload of social media usage (covering things like Gangnam Style will help with this).   You must listen to them.  Gosh, if Christer Björkman could convince them to enter MF…

More than anything though – they are inspiring me to start singing again properly – so for that thank you Pentatonix.

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