Sunday, February 26, 2012

Marriage 401, Lecture 510: Top of the world


We went to the third (my second) singing class where we learned about singing with our head voice instead of our chest voice. The four obnoxious teenage girls who passed notes (why weren't they texting each other? isn't that the 2012 equivalent of passing notes?) and ignored the teacher were gone. They've switched to tae kwan do, the teacher told us.

The older lady who either runs the dance class or takes is was 15 minutes late. Again. I don't care if she's late. It's her money, not mine. I do, however, care that she is late and makes a big production out of coming into class. She had to tell the teacher just why she was late. Shut up! I wanted to yell at her. Just shut up and sit down while the rest of us concentrate on what the teacher is telling us!

The teacher is complicit, though. When someone arrives late, he stops talking so he can mark that person down on the roll. Why? Why can't he take care of that after class? At least he doesn't start the class from the beginning every time someone comes in late.

So dance lady, who wears more makeup than I have ever seen on a Woman of a Certain Age, except for the lady at church who must be 80 but has jet black hair and red red lips and blue eyeshadow and false lashes and rosy cheeks - I don't care for her look but I have to say at least she is making an effort, unlike the people who show up in pajama pants, not only arrives late, but then has to walk back and forth as she gets her bags arranged. She has a little pull-along bag and a huge messenger bag. She has to open the messenger bag and organize her cassette tapes. Loudly. I kept giving her the Glare of You Are Violating Social Norms, but she was immune.

I was not surprised.

When it came her turn to sing, I also was not surprised that she bellowed instead of singing. I was also relieved because it meant I was not the worst singer in the class.

So after that lesson, SH and I and another woman in class went to the karaoke place down the street.

I gave it another shot. No Gordon Lightfoot.

"Rookie mistake," my friend Rubi said. "Everyone's done it at least once."

SH agreed. "You have to pick songs you can sing, not just the songs you like."

"I went to a Gordon Lightfoot concert," other student said, "and security had to throw out a bunch of guys for being rowdy."

"At a Gordon Lightfoot concert?" SH and I asked in disbelief.Link
She nodded. "Can you believe it?"

I decided to be safe and repeat my previous success. I sang the same Olivia Newton John song. Then I sang another Olivia song.

Then I thought, "What other songs do I know really well by female singers who don't have to sing too high or too low?" (My range is about one octave.)

Then I remembered. The Carpenters.

Fifth grade music class, Bowie Elementary, Lubbock, Texas.

For James Bowie, silly. Of the Alamo. The Alamo of which I made a sugar cube model for school.

For music, the teacher would pass out mimeographed lyrics sheets. Rainy Days and Mondays. We've Only Just Begun. Top of the World.

Then she would pull the record out of the record jacket, place it on the record player, and put the needle very carefully on the song we were to sing.

And then we sang with Karen. About being depressed on Mondays. About just getting married. About being in love with a radio singer.

The usual fifth grade issues.

I knew those songs cold.

This is the same school system, by the way, that started the strings program in sixth grade so kids were ready for orchestra by junior high.

"I bet I can sing Karen Carpenter," I thought. "At least I know the songs."

So I did. And you know what? You never forget the songs you learned in fifth grade. I didn't even have to look at the monitor, which was good, because the monitor is on a small table in front of the microphone at about knee level. But when you sing, you don't want your head bent down. You want to lift your chin a little. When I lift my chin, though, I have to look down through the bottom half of my glasses, which is the part that lacks distance correction, as my eyes no longer like to overcome distance correction to see things that are close. Which means I can't read the lyrics anyhow because they are fuzzy.

But nobody laughed and nobody said, "You suck," so I am making progress.

5 comments:

Diane said...

I'm impressed that you're taking lessons, going on a stage and singing ..... in front of people! I could NEVER do that! Couldn't carry a tune even in my bag! So you get an A in my book!

Beryl said...

Karoke two weeks in a row? Sounds like you are having fun. I asked my husband what he thought about going out and Karoking, and we disovered that neither of us had ever even been in a place where they did Karoke. Pub Quiz - yes, Karoke - no.

Lenore said...

Now I have Top of the World stuck in my head! Thanks a lot class factotum.

Rubiatonta said...

Go, you! Also good for karaoke -- Joni Mitchell. Same range as Karen Carpenter (mellow alto).

BTW, the more you sing, the more range you'll get. The lessons will help you build lung capacity and diaphragm control, which is how you get the higher and lower ends of your octave under control.

Class factotum said...

Diane, for most people, there is a lot of alcohol involved!

Beryl, if you do go to karaoke, try to find the place where the older people go. You are more likely to encounter good singing that way.

Lenore, it's a good song. You're welcome.

Rubi, one of the reasons SH has decided to run as exercise is that it helps his singing. I couldn't convince him to exercise for health reasons - but for singing? He's in.