There are many things that I enjoy doing. Photography, watching documentaries, learning languages, reading and gaming the historical-fiction genre, just to name some. Nothing beats my first love, though – singing.
I can recall the first few years of my life when my father would blast karaoke in our house while I was sleeping in the living room. Next thing I knew, I was karaoke-ing with him. I was too young to understand the lyrics, but to me they were just syllables to utter at the right time and key. By the time I was reaching my teens, dad embarked on a karaoke entertainment business where he would go to Malay weddings with his sound system set and I was asked to go along to sing. I guess you could say that was my very first part-time job, a wedding singer.
When I started my secondary school education, I had a natural urge to choose to join the school choir as my co-curricular activity. It was a girls school, so our choir was an SSAA formation (Soprano 1, Soprano 2, Alto 1, Alto 2). I auditioned twice before they decided to put me into Alto 1. That was the first time someone had put a name to my singing pitch ability. I began to embrace my role in the choir, and honestly despite the strict and sometimes depressing times of being harshly reprimanded, it was good fun to be part of a choir that ranked in the top few secondary school choirs nationwide. We went to national and international competitions, workshops held by famous international choral conductors and composers, perform ‘live’ for the country at the National Stadium during a National Day Parade. It was a sad moment when my four years in secondary school came to an end, and so did my little choral career.
For a few reasons, I didn’t continue being in a choir in the next school I went to. My polytechnic’s choir didn’t seem to have a strong identity nor presence and somehow I didn’t like that. I skimmed through my polytechnic years without any singing incident, until my final year when I decided to be part of my faculty’s student executive committee member. That year I volunteered to be one of the organisers of the annual school-wide talentime. To be fair, I didn’t take part in the competition, but I relished in the idea of sharing my love for music and singing with my fellow schoolmates. The turnout for the auditions was decent, and we held a successful Finals event at the campus auditorium. That experience of making such a wonderful event happen is one that I will always relate when thinking about my achievements in my polytechnic years.
When I started working, I chanced upon an opportunity to help out as a temporary vocalist for a newly-formed band. Everyone was friendly and comfortable with each other, and we shared the same passion for Japanese music. I’d been listening and singing to Japanese songs for many years so to be able to sing enthusiastically with a live band was like a dream come true. We didn’t manage to pull it off when some of us started having exams and too soon, we were extinct. For that short period that we were together, though, whatever songs we did, I really think we did them good.
In all those years since my secondary school days, I’d be taking part in the local cosplay festival’s singing competition every few years. It was the only time I got to sing my favourite anime songs to an audience that wanted to hear them. I’ve only won 3rd place and 9th place on two separate occasions before, but that didn’t dampen my spirits. Singing a song I love, on that stage, to so many people… despite the stage fright, every time was always a good time.
Now, I only sing to myself when I’m alone at home or walking/working in quiet places. I miss singing actively. Just going to a karaoke joint to sing simply doesn’t quite cut it. I’ve created a diversion, though; I started taking guitar lessons so that I could accompany myself while singing. It seems that no matter what point I’m at in my life, singing is the one activity, hobby and past time that stands by me always. I don’t need anything more than my voice to make myself smile sometimes. I’m really grateful for my tiny talent. My best friend in times of joy and loneliness, my first love – singing.