Singing update: January 2015

Following on from this post about music and singing, I’ve somehow plunged headfirst into a load of music projects. On my first day at my new job, I summoned up the courage to have a go on the upright piano in the Chapel’s break-room, promptly got collared by the (lovely) Chaplain, told that I could play the Grand in the Chapel itself any time and handed a leaflet with information about the musical stuff the Uni does. I managed to convince myself to email about singing lessons on Tuesday, got a phone call half an hour later from Ian (my teacher), and ended up being read the riot act on Wednesday lunchtime about standing straight and breathing properly as well as being handed a theory book and instructions for breathing practise. I walked home that day with a rather dazed grin on my face and a determination to get better!

Since then, I’ve been practising my breathing: I find the train’s a really good place as it’s 30 minutes of uninterrupted time, and sitting back in the chair means my shoulders don’t move (which they shouldn’t). I’ve also been singing to myself as I walk, which results in an hour to learn lyrics and work on my breathing control. Over the last month, I’ve found myself getting better: I’m standing straighter, I can hold notes that I couldn’t previously, and I’m automatically breathing with my stomach rather than my chest. It’s still early days, but the tiny bit of practise that I do every day (fitted in around everything else as well, which I love) has started to make such a difference.

I also got a lesson in assumptions that made me beam. I’d assumed that singers could read notes from sheet music and know what they were, because every singer I’ve seen has been able to do that. Although I can play the notes on a piano and then sing them, I can’t sing an A or a C straight off….but I was informed last week (by a rather amused Ian) that very few people do have perfect pitch – even the best singers need a chord or a starting note, and most tunes have the intro to give the singers their start. It lifted my spirits so much to know that I’m not abnormal and it’s not something I should be able to do – and when Ian told me that I’d hit every note in a scale perfectly (and the only one I got wrong was a perfect sharp), I thought my face would split in half. I can sing; all I need now is practise, practise, practise!

Author: kate

Kate Coe is an editor, book reviewer and writer of fiction & fantasy. She writes the sparkpunk GreenSky series and blogs at When she's not working, she fills her spare time in between writing with web design, gaming, geeky cross-stitch and DIY (which may or may not involve destroying things). She also reads far fewer books that she would like to, but possibly more than she really has time for.