May. 4th, 2017 10:15 pm
alfvaen: floatyhead (Default)
[personal profile] alfvaen
The first time I tried karaoke was actually kind of by accident.  I went out for supper at this Asian restaurant with my friend Darren, and we were informed there would be something called "Singalong" happening, and we should select a song.  Not quite sure what this was all about, we selected "Let It Be" by the Beatles from their list of songs (which I don't recall being particularly long), since we were both pretty familiar with it.  And then at some point we found ourselves standing up on the little stage with microphones and attempting to sing "Let It Be".  I'm not sure the rest of the diners knew what was going on either; I seem to recall somebody requesting we sing another song (though I don't remember what it was, even though I suspect we did actually sing it).  When Darren asked a while later if I wanted to try it again, I demurred.

But I had been singing along with songs for years.  I used to listen to music on my headphones and sing along with it, which in hindsight can't always have been pleasant for the people around me.  I would even do this while bike riding, back when I was young and fit and apparently something trivial like riding my bike through the Bear Creek valley didn't make me breathe too hard or anything.  Eventually I stopped singing along quite as much, though I was still listening to music fairly steadily and probably sang along with it from time to time.  Later I made myself up some "favourite song" mix tapes, occasionally with themes though not that often, and when I acquired a car with a tape deck in it, I would play the songs while I drove and sing along with them.  It made the drudgery of driving somewhat tolerable, and maybe even a little fun, and in later years I applied the same principle to washing dishes.

Karaoke itself was pretty sporadic, though.  One family reunion I tried it, doing an atrocious version of "Jessie's Girl" (which I had only recently discovered and wasn't that familiar with), but having fun doing "Blue Suede Shoes".  There was karaoke at a couple of the NaNoWriMo "Thank God It's Over" parties, where I managed to do some pretty good renditions of "Hella Good", "The Middle", and "Shout".  At this point, after seeing the same person do the same song every time, I decided to try to avoid repetition if I could.  This wasn't that hard, since while "Shout" (the Tears For Fears version, at least) is one of my favourite songs, my list of "favourite songs" that I was familiar enough to do justice to was already into the hundreds, and continued to grow.

But still, I didn't really seek out karaoke to any great degree.  After all, it was generally held in bars, and I've never been comfortable in bars, since I don't really drink alcohol that much and don't like spending time around drunk people.  Not to mention that I generally don't like going out that often period.  I still took part every once in a while, though.  A few years they had karaoke at the When Words Collide convention, which was quite fun because generally there weren't that many people taking part ("good rotation") and I knew a fair number of the people there.  Last year a few of us, including myself, Randy McCharles and Vanessa Cardui, did a bunch of Tragically Hip songs in tribute to Gordon Downie and the band's final tour.

Also last year, one of the guys at work organized a karaoke evening, with a prize for the best singer, so I actually went out and tried the "karaoke at a bar" thing for the first time...and discovered it wasn't that bad.  The bar wasn't full of people who didn't care about the karaoke, for one thing.  Nobody was pressuring me into buying more drinks.  And while the rotation wasn't as good--I only got to sing about one song an hour--it was still fun to sing along with other people, and I even heard a few good songs that I hadn't run across before.  And I won the prize, with my kickass renditions of "Where The Streets Have No Name" and "The Saga Begins" (the latter of which really impressed one somewhat drunk guy who'd never heard the song before).

So I decided that, since I really enjoyed karaoke and wasn't doing it often enough, I would try to do something about that.  For convenience, I made it kind of a New Year's Resolution to do more karaoke in 2017; to be concrete, I set a goal of singing karaoke at least once a month for the whole year.

In a peripherally related development, my son's graduating class had a silent auction fundraiser last fall.  (Aside: I have a son who's in his last year of high school.  How weird is that?)  The students were encouraged to canvass their friends and families, as well as local businesses, for donated goods and services; my wife, for instance, donated a free manuscript editing session.  We were all also enjoined to actually attend the auction and bid on stuff.  I didn't generally find much there that I was really into, but one of the other parents was offering singing lessons, and so for a lark I put down a bid on it...and nobody else did, so I was the "successful bidder" on it.  I didn't do anything with it right away, though, for a few reasons--there was other stuff going on in my life, and plus there was no actual contact info for the teacher, Ms. Roslyn Petty, and then when I did get some via my son, it was a phone number, and I hate phoning people.

So in January I just picked a date and a place, not too far from my office, that had a sign out front declaring its karaoke nights (Tuesday through Sunday, actually), and started out just inviting all my Facebook friends who lived in the area.  From those who responded to that (whether they showed up or not), and a few coworkers who seemed interested, I created a Facebook group for arranging the subsequent karaoke nights.  It's been a small group so far, a lot of the same people.  One of the ones who turned up in January, actually, was a woman named Poonam who I hadn't seen since high school (though we had been Facebook friends for a while), so it was nice to catch up.  The rotation at this place (Today's Restaurant & Grill, which also has a decent Chinese lunch buffet) is still about once an hour, at least on all the nights I've tried.  I've heard of places where you can rent a room for you and your friends with your own karaoke machine, but that's obviously a little pricier, so maybe for my birthday or something.

I've also done some practicing with a karaoke app that our cable provider has, and a few Youtube videos.  I actually ended up with a karaoke machine as a prize from a work Christmas party a few years ago, but somehow I've never managed to take it out of its box.  I imagine that such things might come preloaded with some public-domain songs in them, and anything else you've have to provide yourself, and that seems like work...but maybe one day I'll give it a try.

I did eventually get around to phoning Roslyn Petty (probably in like February or something), and having a couple of lessons with her.  From her, and my friends, I have gotten the impression that I actually have a pretty good voice, with a strong mixed upper-range/falsetto voice (or something, not sure what the official designation would be).  The silent auction package was for two free lessons, but I think I may do some more lessons here and there, since the price is fairly reasonable.  I guess I don't know if I have any plans to do singing as anything other than a hobby--certainly I'd say it's too soon to quit my job and switch careers--but it does seem to be something I enjoy, and that I'm good at.

What I haven't decided yet is whether or not I'm going to keep up the once-a-month routine once the year is over.  It's about the right frequency, not so often as to become a chore, but still often enough to be satisfying.  But in my head I have mentally marked down 2018 as the year where I try to do board games every month instead of karaoke.  After all, I do enjoy those, but I mostly just end up playing them at home with my kids, when I could be trying to organize my board-game-playng friends (who may be more numerous than my karaoke-singing friends).  But I'm not sure I have enough gumption to do both.  I suppose I could just play it by ear, but in my experience of myself that usually turns into "don't do anything about it".  But I guess, in the end, only time will tell.
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