Free time, Music, Portsmouth

Sing your heart out….

I’ve never really been a confident solo singer, sure I’ve sung in choir, theatre productions and done the odd gig with my sisters for mother’s day concerts but I have never really sung solo.  Admittedly I did sing karaoke at the Student Union one night but I am assuming no one was really focussed on my singing.

So when Becki (the director of OmniArts where I volunteer who is also a singing teacher amongst many other things) asked if I would sing at her Earth Hour Unplugged Event I was excited but also very very nervous. I would be performing in front of her other students (I did not know) and would be singing acapella (without music/backing track) so I would have to rely on the power of my voice alone.

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Earth Hour takes place towards the end of March every year  and is organised by the WWF. It aims to encourage people to switch off their lights for an hour to help promote environmental causes. It started as a lights-out event in Sydney, Australia in 2007 but since then 7000 cities and towns worldwide partake in the event.

I arrived early to help Becki set up and light the huge array of candles and believe it or not it got very hot very quickly! It soon felt like a wonderful atmosphere with snacks galore and the whole room lit up by candle light.

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Bit Blurry but these were the candles and fairy lights! 🙂 

I sung first and I was very nervous, the first song I sung was I still believe from Miss Saigon as a duet with Becki and then I sang My House from Matilda the Musical. Both these songs were filmed so keep an eye out for those!

Standing up and singing acapella is very different to singing with a backing track. With a backing track you have the main tune hidden in the accompaniment somewhere so you can be sure as to what notes your singing. Singing acapella is just you and your voice. After we had all sung our set we had a discussion about how we felt it went and what we found scary about it. For me, I had no one in the audience (apart from Becki) I knew so I was singing in front of complete strangers which I had never done before as normally my parents, sisters, grandparents or friends are always at events to support me. After this we were all encouraged to sing another song and I chose For Good from Wicked. By this time I had become comfortable and apart from a few gear change issues (changing my register) I performed this song well.

This event has really boosted my confidence and when Becki and I were tidying up after we had a nice little sing song of some more classical musical theatre songs. It was a lovely atmosphere and I hope I get to do something like this again.

 

*Should anyone want to find out more about Becki or have singing lessons here is her facebook page https://www.facebook.com/beckishortsinger/?pnref=story*

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Free time, Music, Study

Nearly Christmas!

Surprise!
It’s November 25th! Which means it’s one short month until the big day!

Now, I appreciate Christmas isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s always an exciting time of year for me. The air is cold, the nights are dark and there are sparkly decorations everywhere, so the Christmas feeling is here.

Although I feel I am behind with some of my essays, and especially my dissertation (gulp!), I cannot quite believe that I am ahead with my Christmas shopping! I’ve bought presents for everyone, except for my Dad (Dads are notoriously difficult to buy for.) Of course there is still a long list of cards to write, and several hours of wrapping to be done. But still, this is a real achievement for me. I don’t think I’ve ever been this prepared (I certainly wasn’t last year, when I found myself shopping in Sainsbury’s on Christmas Eve!)

There can be only one way to celebrate this momentous day – with some cheesy Christmas music! So raise a glass of sherry, bite into a warm mince pie and snuggle up next to the fireplace. Christmas is nearly here, and for once I am prepared.

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Course, Free time, Music, Study

Being Here, Looking Forward

University, like all things, must end. When you’ve developed into the habit of studying and University life, it becomes difficult to imagine what to do next. Long ago I began to plan what I would do after graduation, but now that it is nearly time to make that choice, I’m not so sure what to do anymore!
I had always said I wanted to be a teacher. I might still want to be a teacher one day. However right now I’m not sure I want to spend an entire year teacher training. I think it is something to leave until I can be 100% confident that is what I want to do. That said, I still very much want to teach English abroad, ideally in Japan, in which case I require TEFL certification which would take a year of evening classes at college to complete.I’ve also considered taking a Masters, as it might be beneficial to have a postgraduate certificate and continue to study something of interest to me, but I’m not certain about that, either. I actually feel it is my time to move on.

I realised the mistake I made upon leaving college was to do something ‘just because there was nothing better to do’. I came to university having made no effort to look into my options. As I found out, this method didn’t work, as I ended up in a degree which didn’t suit my style of learning or my interests.It was only after a year’s break from education and some soul searching that I found my way back to University to take American Studies.

I find that whenever I’m at a time of change, I always start to look back. I don’t think this is negative. The reason why I look back is to reassess myself. To remind myself how and why I got here, and to contemplate how much I’ve changed and what I’ve learnt in the meantime.
When I look back at myself from five years ago, even three years ago, I find myself face to face with all the fears I had at that time –  my mind swirling with employment concerns, preconceptions of the world, fears and an overriding feeling of being lost, even trapped. How differently I see myself, and my world, now!

As I approach the final stages of my degree my outlook is filled with many opportunities and ideas which have arisen from the people I have met and the things I have learnt from this university experience. When I walk away from University next year, the most important thing I will take away will not be a scroll. It will be the memories, emotions and life experience locked away in my mind.

So, as much as I look forward to the future, I cannot help but look back. In doing so, I hope to enjoy and appreciate all that university has to offer in my last moments of this journey, though I know that writing my dissertation will be stressful!

Overall, I have been hit by the realisation that once again I may soon face a similar situation to five years ago, and the same old questions are beginning to return: What job do I want? What do I want from life? Where will I be happy?

My time at University may not have answered those questions, but it has given me a better idea of where to look, and higher chances that I will achieve what I want.
But for now I’m happy to enjoy my final few months at University – I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

As always, Jack Johnson has a great song which accompanies the feeling of this post nicely.

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Clubs and societies, Course, Free time, Island Experience, Music, Nightlife, Sport, The city

Freshers!

I remember my first ever experience of Freshers Fayre at the University of Portsmouth – it seems like such a long time ago! Wherever I went there were people in the streets handing out leaflets and free things: a flyer for Ken’s Kebabs, a bag of coupons for a restaurant I’d never heard of, a free can of drink from club I would never visit, a free haircut, lollipops, badges and discount shopping vouchers. It was overwhelming! And that was even before I’d pushed my way towards Ravelin Park!

Already my hands were aching from carrying so many flyers. Then I was hit by the noise and the sheer amount of people mingling in the park. More vouchers were thrust into my hands, and then inside the tents so many societies vying to attract new recruits. It seemed like total chaos, and I remember going home to feel relieved to be alone again.

Freshers Fayre is pretty much like that, but I’ve learned to love it during my time. Rather than getting frustrated at the constant leafleters, I smile and gladly take their offerings in the hopes of finding a free pen or some sweets buried amongst the multitude of leaflets in their advertisement packs. I can feel the music pulsing through me at I get nearer to Ravelin Park, and I sense a twinge of excitement as I marvel at the huge number of sports clubs and societies there are on offer. You could never join them all – though what a blast it would be if you could! And I can’t really complain about queuing for one (or six) free slices of pizza from the Domino’s stand.

What to my younger self seemed like pure disorder has actually become one of my favourite times of the academic year. I now come back from Fresher’s feeling pumped and tingling, enthused to start a new year of study.

I was even lucky enough to spend this Fresher’s Fayre with a great bunch of my friends, representing the Japanese Language and Culture Society. How strange it was to be on the other side of this whole little festival. No longer was I the bemused boy wandering around in confusion – now I was the guy behind the stall, standing with the kimono girls and telling potential members about our great new society. It was a lot of fun!

The moral? Enjoy Freshers Fayre, and seriously sign up to some clubs. Any clubs. There’s no excuse for not finding at least one which interests you. Please take it from me: you will have a load more fun at uni if you get involved and meet some new people!  

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Free time, Music, Study

When Time Didn’t Stand Still

March 2013 signalled the end of all lectures of my Second Year. Then it was the April holiday which merged into the stressful exam time of May. Then summer hit and June, July and August went by all too quickly.

It’s was a fun summer break, and a productive one too in many respects, though work on my dissertation has yet to commence!

The weather now has dropped as we descend into autumn, and a return to study. I do feel well organised, and ready to take the plunge of a lot of hard work in this Third and final year to get the best out of my degree. I know it won’t be easy, but I’m excited to realise how close I am to my final goal of achieving my degree. Although I would have loved a few more weeks to be lazy, the time has come to start work again.

I’m very excited, and just a little nervous. Here we go!

Oh, and here’s some classic ELO from 1981, singing about when time did stand still. All I can say is that it certainly didn’t for me so far this year!

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Music

Like the Legend of the Phoenix

While I’m still procrastinating about sitting down and actually thinking about writing an essay and starting my proper revision, I thought I’d share with you my current favourite songs to listen to on YouTube. I know, it’s important stuff!

Last week on Later Live With Jools Holland (who I saw live in December and reviewed for the Galleon), I was struck by the band Pheonix and their catchily powerful song ‘Entertainment’. The video is excellent and features a dramatic Korean storyline (though I’m not quite sure why). I also really like their song ‘Consolation Prizes’.

I’m also eagerly awaiting the release of Daft Punk’s new album, Random Access Memories, in late May. The current single from the album ‘Get Lucky’ is a real disco treat and will definitely be my soundtrack to the summer. What strangely links both Daft Punk and Phoenix is that they are French groups, and also that ‘Get Lucky’ starts with the line “like the legend of the phoenix”.

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Clubs and societies, Free time, Music, Nightlife, Travels

Day Tripper

Saturday morning arrived, and I found myself on the train to London to meet with friends. An exciting, Japanese-themed day out lay ahead of us.  Once I had met my comrades, we were straight on the Underground to see a LOLcats art exhibition (take a look at this link to get an impression of what we went to see! http://www.lolcats.com/).

We then browsed a few shops, before descending once again for a Tube ride to Piccadilly Circus to find Japan Centre. After scoffing a hot and spicy Japanese chicken dish, there wasn’t much time to take a look because we were once again navigating the Underground system to make it to the Saddler’s Wells theatre. We arrived with little time to spare, and caught a performance of “The Shogun and the English Samurai” at 7.30pm.

The theatre was packed out, and being sat right at the very back we still had an excellent view of the production – though it was unbelievable how high above the stage we were! The play was mostly in Japanese (with English titles), and there were moments of hilarity and sadness, as well as samurai battles and great oriental music. It was definitely worth it.

By the time this had finished at 10.45pm, it was a mad dash back to Victoria to nab the last National Express coach back to Porty.

Even arriving home in the early hours of the morning, I was still buzzing. I had a great time! You can’t beat an excellent day out with a group of friends.

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