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.

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You asked for it — Me Singing

Yep, me singing.

The song is Why?, made famous by Roger Whittaker. The whole family liked him way back when, and this was in the song book I bought. I’ve been singing it myself for the last week, and never actually played it on the keyboard. Yesterday my teacher played it, and it turns out I was singing it in a lower (more comfortable for me) key. She says I need to work on my higher range, and didn’t recommend transposing it. I’m now singing it as written.

Over three minutes. Be warned.

http://www.cricket.onebit.ca/Uploads/Singing

Something I didn’t want to know about singing

When you’re singing really well, from the listeners’ perspective, it might sound really terrible to the singer.

I believe it, in theory. We hear ourselves through bone conduction. We also hear a different amount of resonance. My teacher says sometimes she still needs to listen to a recording to tell what she really sounds like. (She was a semi-finalist at the Eckhardt-Gramatte this weekend, so I think she knows what she’s talking about.)

So, I need to learn what it sounds like to me when (and if??) I produce a sound that’s right for “them”.

I suppose I could argue that I’ll never sing for anyone besides myself (and my kids, who were my biggest fans until I started singing more often) but then what’s the sense of taking lessons?

I’m enjoying it. My range has improved, and we don’t repeat exercises as much as we used to. (We’ll just ignore today’s lesson. Blame it on the cold I’m hoping to avoid.) I’ll try to practise more this week. I find the exercises she gives help, but I still wish she could be with me every time I practise. So often, I create a new sound, and wonder if it’s what we were trying for in the lesson, or something to avoid.

Cheers!

My Singing Teacher is Really Good

After only five lessons, I sang Opera at the River Run Centre, in front of hundreds of grade 3/4 students.

Well, I guess it was more like “with” hundreds of grade 3/4 students. I went on a field trip with son’s class. They saw Romanza . Three tenors and a piano trio, doing classics and opera. They started the show with Funiculì, Funiculà , then finished by having us sing the chorus.

Jammo ‘ncoppa, jammo jà,
funiculì, funiculà!

The kids were reasonably well behaved. The first song got their attention, as did the exciting bit of the Hungarian Dance on violin and the participation at the end, and one other song that was exciting, but overall the boys were bored. Face it, Bring Him Home, a pop song from the 1800s, and a Ray Charles song just won’t hold their attention.

I hate to eliminate the quieter stuff entirely — there are enough kids who like it or are borderline and need the chance — but the rest need something a bit more exciting.

I liked their costumes. One was in black jeans and black sweatshirt, one a normal black dress shirt and black dress pants, and the third a modern black suit jacket over black dress pants. The bits between the songs caught the kids’ attention. They understood when the kids clapped after exciting bits, even if it was before the song was over. They did a good job of quietly asking them to save the applause, but didn’t fuss when it didn’t work. The “warm ups” before the audience participation were fun. The bits of showing off were also good; they could have done a bit more before hitting overkill.

So, yes, I’d keep this group on the list for this age group, but add a few more modern bits.

This is a great city. Thanks to a couple of big sponsors and tons of volunteers, every kid, grade 1-8, goes to two free shows at the centre. They still need to fine-tune the shows a bit. I’ve seen them given too high or too young an age recommendation. Also, many of the shows are great for kids who are already into that sort of thing, but boring for the rest.

Meanwhile, I enjoyed watching and listening for the things I’m working on with my music teacher. I think I identified head and chest voices. Yes, extra air does make the transition smoother. I did my best to sing out like she wants me to, but ended up quietly giggling at my bravado.

February is almost over….

So, what have I done?

I’ve discovered there are some really good bloggers out there, with interesting entries, but I’m not one of them. Too bad, so sad.

I finished FlyLady’s 31 Baby Steps and the house is much more comfortable. My parents called on a Friday to say they were getting in the car, and the “crisis clean” list consisted of washing daughter’s bedding (they use her room) and doing the hot spots. Wow!

I spend an hour on housework every morning, then singing and/or shorthand.

Dad and hubby replaced the kitchen sink and taps, and reinforced that part of the counter. It had rotted out, and the only thing holding up the taps were the copper pipes. That was the final bit of plumbing, so we now have cutoffs on all pipes. The kitchen is going to get a complete replacement (reusing the new sink and taps) in two years or so, once we pull far enough ahead on the mortgage. So glad we’re good savers!

Singing lessons are going well. I’m very happy with my teacher. I did no price research but I trust the school she works out of. It turns out she’s one of the more expensive, but I think I’m getting every penny. I trust her completely; her voice and her resume prove she knows about singing. She often says, “Many people think … but the truth is …”. And when I try what she says, I get better results, so she also knows about singing. I’m now beginning to work on a song — a real song! My current challenge is to stop thinking of her as an audience. The head/chest voice blends much better when you sing out, and I’m too tight in my high range.

In shorthand, on passages I’ve written once or already, I can write 50 wpm easily. I’m going to keep this speed, or maybe 60wpm, and concentrate on finishing the theory. I’ve also backed off on copying reams of samples. I still read it, and reread it until I’m fairly fluent — it helps a lot — but I’m not copying it out two times. Once I finish the theory, I’ll start working on speed again.

I’m going to the River Run Centre four times — twice with each kids’ class. Daughter saw Ballet Jorgen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes. A really wiggly 6-year-old boy was put beside me, with reason, sigh. At one point he was in the seat next to him. I see something else (or maybe the same thing) with Son’s 9-year-old class.

I’ve also done Scientist in Schools with both classes. I highly recommend this group! Their experiments and questions and presentations work and are geared for the age in question.

We went to a Ceili hosted by Daughter’s Irish Dance school on the weekend. A very late night, but a good one. Son was practically in tears when we told him he had to dance one dance. He was convinced he’d die of humiliation. He grinned during much of it, especially as there was one point he was able to slap Daddy’s bum. Most of us were lucky to move in the right direction around the circle, but there were some who know what they were doing. Just before the break, they cleared the floor and dancers did solos. Incredible! Daughter was on the floor the entire time. Daughter has said repeatedly that, if she can only do one dance type, it will be ballet. As good as the ballet school is, though, Husband and I prefer the Irish.

Daughter took her ballet exam. We don’t have the results back, but based on her Christmas report card and that at this young age the teacher wants them to have a successful experience, I’m sure she passed. We had to get a proper outfit for her, and put up her hair, and a teacher from another school came in to test them. It was a good experience.

We saw Veggie Tales, the Pirates Who Do Nothing. I enjoyed it and recommend it. Our kids get scared at intense movies, but they enjoyed this one. I’m hyper-sensitive to Christian messages, but the only one I saw lasted two minutes. Yes, there really was a Deus ex Machina, and he will provide everything you need. I’m not so sure of that, but I liked the rest of the messages. I was a bit concerned, in hindsight, at the lack of female role models. Most of the women were the wives/mothers, and only in the background. The only exception was a daughter who brave and intelligent and called for help and trusted her father. Well, at her age, hiding and calling for help was the right thing to do, and her father did come through.

We also saw Spiderwick. Son, Husband and myself have read the series, so we could assure Daughter of the happy ending. The overall plot was similar, but many scenes and details differed. On the other hand, the really important details were carried to the new scenes. If you enjoyed the books, you will enjoy the movie, but don’t look for the exact same plot.

My yearly storytelling sabbatical (and the advertising I do for it) will end soon, sigh. I was enjoying the break. I’ve exhausted our family library and need to find more stories.

Cheers!

If not now, when?

Yesterday I had my first singing lesson. Half introductions, half mini-lesson. Good grief, Mom’s “You can’t sing” and “Don’t be silly” sunk in deeper and firmer than I’d thought. Then I compounded it by watching the Idol auditions.

Repeat to self as often as necessary: I am doing this to have fun and to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I will learn all my teacher has to offer. I already respect her, and I will also act as though I respect her. (No showing off itty-bitty bits of related knowledge she probably already knows!) If I get good enough that people aren’t embarrassed to hear me, even better!

If not now, when?

Yesterday I had my first singing lesson. Half introductions, half mini-lesson. Good grief, Mom’s “You can’t sing” and “Don’t be silly” sunk in deeper and firmer than I’d thought. Then I compounded it by watching the Idol auditions.

Repeat to self as often as necessary: I am doing this to have fun and to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I will learn all my teacher has to offer. I already respect her, and I will also act as though I respect her. (No showing off itty-bitty bits of related knowledge she probably already knows!) If I get good enough that people aren’t embarrassed to hear me, even better!

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