I am moved by Lady Percy 's expression of love. CLICK HERE - see if you agree.
Otherwise my novels, short stories, verse, family, music, memories, vulgar interests, detestations,
responses, apologies. I hold posts to 300 words* having found less is better than more.
I re-comment on comments and re-re-re-comment on re-re-comments.
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Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Parallel turns/chromatic scales

Learning is more than just absorption. I ski-ed from 1978 until 2007 and for ten years always took ski-school. Ski-ing is predominantly about style and for that you need external judgement and tuition.
Some take ski-school and ignore the instructor's guidance, finding ways of faking the detail. But not from mere wilfulness. Often such pupils are being asked to move non-intuitively and this appears (to them) to risk falling. Were they to obey the instructor they would improve their control, ski more safely. But no one likes falling, even into soft snow.
During my singing lessons falling isn't a threat. And, to my eternal surprise, I have bypassed the agonies of possible humiliation. But there are under-currents. I don't want to let V down - I feel obliged to listen, practice her recommendations assiduously at home, and prove I've done so at the next lesson.
So what - given I want to sing? There's more. V has a singing voice both gorgeous and powerful; she likes modern British composers, a mildly esoteric taste which convinces me she truly enjoys singing. Yet for an hour a week (forget her other pupils of whom I know nothing) she must expose herself to my inexact sense of pitch, my tendency to get slower as the song progresses, my robotic phrasing.
OK, my vocal imperfections are V’s bread and butter. But defective sound is defective sound and I would hate to cause her pain. For which there can only be one valid compensation: that I should progress. I sing for pleasure; I aim to sing better to keep V from torment.

Also, singing lessons transport me into a thrilling new world which I previously only gawped at. I get over-enthusiastic and talk too much. That too requires attention. 


  1. There would be one other valid compensation. Her fee.

  2. MikeM: It may be my situation is amenable to Hegelian dialectic. In the first instance this will not resolve the point you raise, only set it in context. Let's try anyway.

    Thesis (the intellectual proposition) states that I need singing lessons, antithesis (a reaction to the proposition) says V has the skills to provide this and will charge a fee, synthesis (the reconciliation of common truths) says a contract is agreed and is proceeding.

    We may then say the fee becomes a "given" (ie, a truth) in arriving at the contract. Without it I would not be experiencing the situation I described. Thus the bare concept of the fee has, as it were, been "digested". We now move on to a new dialectic.

    Thesis: The contract is working according to agreed principles. Antithesis: I feel that despite paying the fee I may be incurring an unforeseen "debt" (real or imagined) in juxtaposing my lack of skills against V's skills. Synthesis: I must resolve this.

    Which leads to: Thesis: My recently discovered misgivings about the nature of the contract. Antithesis: V's presumed awareness of the risks she was taking. Synthesis: Legally I need go no further.

    Then: Thesis: My continuing sense of "debt". Antithesis: V's equanimity, assuming my "debt" is real. Synthesis: I may need a psychiatrist.

    No doubt you can pick a dozen holes in all this, and will; I have an uneasy feeling this will turn out to be your game not mine. But consider this: learning to sing is, for me, a luxury and can only be justified via several personal intangibles. Not suprisingly, emotional rewards play a huge part in what I'm doing. It is in the nature of things that such air-fairy benefits will need to be paid for in equally air-fairy ways - in my case an over-fevered imagination. Fees? Pooh; I have the money and I'm eighty. Nothing so accessible could deliver such delight. I'm indulging myself, I'm incorrigible, when three words of "O Isis und Osiris" sound half-right I am released from Earth's surly bonds. You may encourage me to keep on going.

  3. Please keep going. I appreciate the fascinating re-comment, especially re air-fairiness (which I understand very well), and apologise for posting such such an insensitive comment.

  4. MikeM: 'Twasn't insensitive, merely concise. However my "You may encourage me to keep on going" was meant to refer to part of the sentence that preceded it: "...I am released from Earth's surly bonds" (a poetic quote). Suggesting you wished me Godspeed to the outer fringes of the Universe. I'll take your "Please keep going" as a misread.

  5. Not so much a misread as a partial read....my entreaty was to keep up with the singing lessons, but since that is one of the places where you slip Earth's surly bonds...a petit mort of a sort (a small poem here as well, please entertain one of the few french phrases I'm familiar with)...I think my interpretation was not too far off. "The surly bonds" bit is so often quoted in the States of late it's become hackneyed...standard funeral fare. But J.G. Magee? That's a new name to me.

  6. MikeM: Magee, a Spitfire pilot who, needless to say, didn't make it to 1945.

  7. I have a friend with MS who is very creative but has been unwell of late, and he has spent the past year learning to sing (when he can.) It is lovely to see how excited he is when he has a break-through and sees how to do something he could not do. My little experience with a choir tells me that it's wonderful to get better. And I'm sure your teacher feels that as well--that it's a joyful thing.

  8. Marly: My heart goes out to your friend. Music listened-to can be a comfort especially when one is convinced of the piece's nobility; but to make music (however imperfect the net result) is another thing entirely. Singing absorbs the body (remaining still, forming the mouth, trying to make the music sound effortless) and the mind (technically and aesthetically) in a wholly personal way.

    My best friend, dead these past eighteen years, had motor-neurone disease which was - uncharacterically of that horrible wasting disease - comparatively quick-acting. He was an enormous musical influence during his life and I am constantly making wonderful discoveries about observations he made. Whenever I see the name Janacek among my CDs I remember his gift, probably thirty years ago, of the string quartets; I hardly responded at the time, now I am in love with them. To the point where I used the background of the Glagolitic mass as a means of achieving the redemption of my central character in my third novel.

    I wish your friend many more break-throughs; they don't have to be enormous to be heartfelt.