Voice Exam Done!

In a few weeks I will get an email saying that I’m a good singer, for a pre-teen with three years of lessons.

Not bad for a 43-year-old with three-and-a-half years. (The first 40 years were spent developing bad habits which had to be undone.)

Yes, I’m glad I did it. It forced me to work harder. I improved more during the last two months than the year before. My voice teacher recommended three very different songs. The more styles you do, the better you are at all.

Next year it’s back to low-stress, fun repertoire, hopefully including a ballad (which isn’t represented at all in the exams, nor in my teacher’s repertoire), and another exam the year after that, whichever grade my teacher recommends. It’s not a race.

Next fall I want to sing for the B-Guild. ‘B’ as in the town name, since for variety and quality of telling and coaching it’s the ‘A’ guild. Four of the members are well-known nationally. I expect they’ll say I should keep practicing, but I’m not ready to sing at First Friday. I’m an established, solid teller, and they’ll hold me to close to that for singing. If I were a new performer, they’d give me two points to work on, maybe ask that I keep at it and bring it back to the guild in a few months, then get me on stage. The only way to learn is by doing.

Ballads are a bit different, since they’re often done without accompaniment. Just a pitch at the start. I’m used to anchoring my pitch to the piano. Even when it’s not playing my line, I hear how my voice sounds against it. The first time she dropped the melody line I felt something was off, but soldiered on. She asked me if I realized what she’d changed. She understands how big each step is when it looms in front of you, even if it’s one she mastered years ago. Now when she makes a mistake (she’s playing and listening at the same time), it doesn’t throw me.

I’ve already done some online searching for a good ballad book and emailed a guild-friend for recommendations for the first book on my ballad shelf. It’s an interest, not an obsession. I want to be true to the tradition, but there’s no need to be an expert.

Next on my project and deadline list:

– Press releases, abt 150 words, for Tea and Tales. Today.

– Storytelling. Continue to keep Inn of the Stolen Moon in repertoire. Polish and time Knitting story. Reprep (last done 2007) Sing Song of Old Man Kangaroo.

– Bills. Also sign up for e-delivery of the last few. Canada Post’s employees are going to have an even smaller pie to fight the company for after this strike.

– Shorthand. Continue my own training. I’m 1/3 of the way through the first book, at 65wpm. One book says that’s a good speed for the end of the book, another says I should keep pushing a bit each chapter to hit 85 by the end. Also continue putting quasi-polished dictation files online for others’ use.

– Fanfiction. Bring all of SL:AS up to current standards. Put online. Repeat with the rest of the series.

– Knitting. Pretty pink shawl, hope to give it to voice teacher this summer. Socks with the green/orange yarn. Socks with the brown yarn. Will probably include hours of pattern searching. I should just cast on with any pattern that interests me, so I have a pair on the needles when traveling. That doesn’t mean I can’t search for a pattern for the brown yarn.

– Knitting Masters. BM wants to do it with me in the fall, but last week she auditioned for and was offered a part for October, so maybe I won’t wait for her.

– Blog Series. I’ve started one or two series, including a review of Python programming books, that I should finish.

First, though, is getting the day started. It’s already 10:30 and I’m still in my PJs. A friend is performing at Fairy Fest this afternoon, so a group of us are going.

Skew Socks

Long time in stash and printout. A fairly fast knit, except for redoing the heel several times. My own fault. I was modifying the pattern and didn’t catch all the places it needed changing.

Pattern is in Knitty.
Changes as suggested by the designer. Increased ankle band and higher instep.

Evenstar Shawl — Finished Pics

Yep, it’s finished. I’ve worn it twice (and found and repaired a dropped stitch — a k2tog didn’t take) and love it.

This time it’s on a properly contrasting background.

Click to make bigger. Click again to make even bigger.

Socks Story, 1st Performance

This is the first live performance of my knitting story, titled Socks.

It’s 16 minutes long, 16mb.

The pause at “80,000 stitches” is when I turn around and show the a shawl (which I made) which has 80,000 stitches.

In joke: Brad Woods is a local storyteller who was the guild’s guest last month; he has recorded a storytelling CD. Stuart McLean is well-known Canadian teller who tells on The Vinyl Cafe on CBC radio.

Recording.

I’ll remove enough to bring it down to 14 or even 12 for the next performance.

Still Alive

Taking a break from the Weekly Virtues for a bit. They were a good idea, but couldn’t compete with my other good ideas.

I bought a new needle organizer, and then made labels for all the pockets. Rather nice, but they could use another set of eyes or three before I put up the final files.

There are two sizes: Return Address (1-3/4″x1/2″) and Mailing (2-5/8″x1″). Both are readily available in stores.

They include sets for needles, crochet hooks and tiny crochet hooks. Each label has the size in metric and conversions for US and UK. Eventually, each will have a page of just knitting, so you can print a set for each type (straight, circ, dpn). Note that the conversions aren’t exact, just the closest round number. It’s better than no conversion, and there are so many other things that can affect gauge that you still have to swatch.

http://www.cricket.onebit.ca/Test/NeedleLabels

We also took the plunge and bought a keyboard. It was a tough call, but this one fit the budget, has most of the features piano teachers look for, and the tiny toy I was using to support my voice lessons was dying. If no one takes piano lessons, it was the right call. If one of us does, we’ll have to upgrade and it was an expensive experiment.

Right now I’m enjoying the self-teaching book very much, like the sound much more than the sound of even cheaper keyboards, and lessons aren’t in the budget, so it was a good buy.

Thanks for the Interruption

Last week we opened the local (G-Guild) storytelling season with a guest teller: Adwoa Badoe. Need I say more? Need I say she was inspiring? Need I say she’s gracious and intelligent and graceful and wonderful? She is, you know.

She has a very active style of storytelling, and it involves the audience. As she explained, in her home town in Ghanna the telling can go on for hours or days. The audience often participates, partly so they can move and stay awake through a very long telling. It’s definitely not the “sit and quietly listen” style we do here.

For her first story, she taught us a few lines (in African), and when she said one line, we had to do the rest. Great fun! Then she taught us about interruptions. In that culture, it’s polite to yell out something like “Unbelievable!” The rest of the audience joins in with (and don’t quote me, because I was more interested in enjoying the evening than taking notes), “Unbelievable! Tell it well! Tell it true!” The teller acknowledges your disbelief, and the story continues.

Two extremely well-known and professional tellers there, from B-Guild. I’d been to guild meetings with them, and heard them tell, but schedules had been such that they’d never heard me tell. They were personal friends of Adwoa, and familiar with her style. This worked well, because most of our regular audience wasn’t comfortable yelling out “Unbelievable!” (at least until we’d seen it done a few times). (Believe it or not, I’m a wall-flower when listening. I prefer to listen without wondering if now is a good time to interrupt. That may change.)

B-Guild has many professional tellers. They get Canada Council grants to go into archives and record seniors’ stories and travel. There are also a few beginners, and a whole slew in between. It’s wonderful. Everyone gets a chance to tell and give feedback. We learn as much from giving and listening to feedback for others as for ourselves. Above all, they appreciate the story and want you to enjoy telling. Seriously — they go out of their way to make new tellers comfortable.

The G-Guild is mostly beginners and early professionals, although some retired professionals often come to the concerts, and even participate. Still fun, but I’m the third-most active of the regular tellers. (One is quasi-retired. One, while a great teller, doesn’t always follow the traditions I’ve learned from the other professionals.) I learn different things at G-Guild.

Back to the event.

It was the first concert of G-Guild’s season. Adwoa’s involved in several other types of art, so we expected many new audience members, and wanted to hook them. So, I chose one of my favourites, one I tell quite well: The Raj’s Tiger. I worked on the tiger’s voice with my voice teacher, and made a point of warming up very well.

And, you know what those professional tellers did? They interrupted me!

It was one of the best compliments I ever received. Thank you!

A Great Day!

I spent the day counting money and writing receipts for Jump Rope for Heart. The kids at the school ask friends to sponsor them, then do an hour of physical activity. Last year we had $5000 by the end of the day, and with late submissions reached over $7000.

This year we got over $7000 on the due day, so by the time the lates come in? Wow!

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