But today I was able to take some time off and enjoy what has turned out to be a lovely sunny day. I got to have my first bike ride since I broke the collarbone three months ago, which is a huge step in the recovery process. The next phase is getting back into the gym before hitting the rugby field once more. It’s nice to be able to cultivate a life outside work once more.
That being said, there is one hobby that has proved hard to take up again. I also realized this week that I miss having the opportunity to sing. I miss the discipline of the practice process, learning the pieces, and getting it all polished for performance. And before you jump in and say “but you can just sing anywhere”, it’s not really that easy. Sure, I can (and do) sing in the shower, or hum a tune around the place, but to *sing* sing, in the sense of working on the opera voice is something different.
For starters you need a place where you can get loud without the neighbours getting (too) angry. To practice operatic singing you can’t hold back, in fact it’s the worst possible thing you could do in terms of vocal health. You have to sing at your natural loudness, without forcing or constraining the sound. In Canberra I had an apartment on a top floor in a corner, so that I could sing loudly without disturbing too many people. Even then my housemate said I could be heard a block away when I practiced. I had learned the hard way that practicing opera drives neighbours mad; in a previous apartment, I would begin practice on a Sunday afternoon only to hear a door slam above some ten minutes later and a furious young woman storm out to her car and drive off. Every time.
Even my music teacher had to choose his studio carefully, facing across empty land to a park. The nearest neighbour was stone deaf, which was a blessing. Despite the lack of time, in Dallas I at least had access to the studios at the arts school, and so could grab a soundproofed rehearsal room whenever I had a free hour.
But here I am yet to forge a strong enough relationship with the neighbours to guarantee that they won’t get angry if I start singing scales on a Sunday afternoon. It’ll take some time.
And there’s also other things to consider, like the need for a music setup, a piano and so forth. Whilst I can use a software keyboard on the laptop it’s less than ideal.
It’s not that I plan to seriously pursue doing opera at the moment; even if I could find a local company I doubt I’d have the time to do productions. However, it’s just good to keep the voice developing. It’s also good to have something to concentrate on that isn’t a computer screen. When you spend all week in front of graphs and numbers the last thing you want to do is go home and stare at a video game. Well, at least for me that’s the case.
Then again, maybe it’s all for the best. Earlier this week someone uploaded an old video of me singing at a community concert. The only thing worse than my singing was my acting. If you can call it acting. I know that I did get better from there, but it did make the point that it was probably for the best that I didn’t pursue singing as a career path.
Still, I do miss it.