Many of you know I once harbored Broadway dreams, imagining myself singing, dancing and acting up a storm alongside a reincarnated Gene Kelly and dozens of other actual living luminaries. I went to undergrad for music and quickly came to realize that since I couldn’t dance or act, I should just focus on the singing. Which I hated to practice. So I switched to writing, and now I’ve come full circle to writing about singing. Good times!
I’ve sung with several NYC choirs since I moved here – currently I’m not singing with anyone, so when I realized that the Sing for Hope pianos were coming back to the city, I resolved I wasn’t going to miss a minute of music-making time.
I missed the entire first week. But the second week, I was on my game! A coworker of mine is an opera singer when she’s not toiling in our office, so the two of us went down to Battery Park with my Gershwin fakebook and had at it:
We had a great time because nobody was there to listen who knew us, a random drunk Australian came up to try “They Can’t Take That Away From Me” while I frantically played a chord, any chord, as he inventively skipped from verse to chorus and back again, and we were pleased to find that we sounded good together.
The next day a couple of coworkers came out with us, and one shot the following video (if we’re real life facebook friends you’ve seen this already, but now you’re going to see it again)
And thus began one of my favorite weeks ever, in my life. I’d sing at lunch with Lori, and then after work I’d take Gracie and a few more fakebooks and we’d hit the baby grand in Prospect Park
I met so many cool and random weirdos, musicians, passersby, local folks…. Every day I sang until I felt like my chords were about to start warping. The whole time I was a voice major I was always paranoid about hydration levels and shape and sound quality and the truth is my voice is as resilient as a xylophone, honestly. I can sing with less warm-up, I can make imperfect sounds, I can switch to a belt and back again mid-croon.
And I can entertain a crowd! I loved the feeling of sensing a group’s interest – did they want to hear songs they knew or just listen to what sounded good?
My biggest musical insecurity, when I’m in my showtunes wheelhouse, anyway, is probably my piano playing. You can hear in that rough little video that I’m basically playing block and inverted chords with my left hand and just a little bit of melody/harmony with my right. I can’t switch – Righty doesn’t know the chords and Lefty can’t read treble clef – and they don’t work together that much, but the beauty of accompanying yourself is you always know when you’re coming in and when you want to pause, and more than one actual really good at stuff musician complimented my dexterity. People took pictures! Folks came back multiple days in a row! Strangers stopped to sing and harmonize with me, and nobody yelled “Get off!”
There is something extremely powerful about singing, and to get to do it in public with so little stress about preparation or any consequences whatsoever… It was the best week ever and I can’t wait for the pianos to come back again.