A young(ish) opera singer's random thoughts and observations.

Friday, 6 January 2012

How does the opera singer relax? By making music, of course...

It's been a while since I posted anything, which is understandable, as I haven't had anything 'singery' to do over the holidays. I also had a moment of doubt as to whether it was worth carrying on with this blog or not, but that had a lot to do with the rather surreal time I've had in my personal life lately and the fact that I'm now engaged in reading a blog that is actually about something real, and not just a pointless exercise in personal vanity... In the end I decided that the best way to get through a tough time is to carry on with your normal routine, so here I am again, making the assumption that someone may find reading my insignificant drivel interesting.

So let's make our way out of the trough of mild depression and onto the crest of holiday fun. I am proud to report that I wasn't completely lazy over the last couple of weeks, managing to devote a fair bit of time to learning Le Nozze di Figaro, though as usual, the original plan was to also squeeze in a few other bits and bobs, in which I predictably failed (those were optional though, so I'm ok!). What I think some of you may find interesting, though, is not the work I did, but the ways I found to relax.

To give this a bit of context, I'll tell you a bit about my group of closest friends, with whom I spent 5 days around New Year's Eve and Day. We all come from a scouting background, where the main sources of fun are the outdoors, fire (in the camp-fire sense, not the dangerous obsession sense), and a guitar. So when we arrived in my parent's cottage in the Beskidy mountains, we had 2 guitars, 2 djembe drums and an assortment of percussive instruments, plus anything we found in the house (spoons, lampshades, and a cheese grater). I pity those who had plans to catch up on some sleep over those couple of days, as we stayed up until around 4am every night going through our favourite songs from our scouting days, improvising harmonies on nonsensical spur-of-the-moment lyrics, dancing to quasi-african drum beats and rapping to a backing track I lovingly played on my iPad's hip-hop drum machine app. I generally find that when I do find time off, I avoid singing like the plague, but after a week of silence in Kraków, this free-form music-making was the most fun I've had in ages. There's nothing like being yourself, both personally and musically in a tight group of friends.

All good things come to an end, however, and before we knew it, it was time to go back to Kraków. The music-making was, as it turned out, far from over. This same group of friends took me out to a jam-session in on of my old haunts, the Harris Piano Jazz Bar. These jam-sessions are held regularly and my friends try to make as many as they can. The music is mainly blues, with an established band opening and closing the concert, to get people in the mood and then wind the party down. A good third of the audience are musicians with instruments in hand, who then take to the stage as and when they know the songs being played. The atmosphere is electric, seats hard to come by, the floor a tightly packed swaying (and, in the latter part of the evening, dancing) throng. It all takes me back to my high-school and early uni days, when I had a band of my own and it used to be us up there on the stage... I love what I do now, but I do miss the feel of the mic stand in my hands, the lights, the noise, and the feeling of being myself (not a character in a play) and letting go while belting out a good song (or even one of our own ;) ). So inevitably, I end up jumping up to join the guys when I hear a familiar intro! Anyone interested in starting up a band in Cardiff? Just kidding... there's never enough time. But a jam session? Maybe there's a club that holds them from time to time. At least I know the Harris jams will from now on be an obligatory feature of my visits home.

For anyone curious, here's a taste of Polish blues-rock history, and the very song I sang:

1 comment:

  1. There's a jam session every Monday night (I think it starts at 9pm?) in the Music Room at Dempsey's in Cardiff.