… No, that’s not a plea for an early departure, but rather me rehearsing!
Since my last post of eleven days ago, a few gallons have gone under the bridge. I was feeling particularly sick of classes – as I have been for the last few weeks, actually – and was finding myself skipping twice a week (listening and speaking, because I literally don’t say a word until the last two minutes, after watching the same video three damned times). This obviously wasn’t good scholarship of me in the first place, but honestly, I have been keeping up with the work! It just takes me about a third of the time when I stay here or find a cafe to study – economies again…
Anyway, I mentioned this to one of my teachers, the lovely Xu Miao, who just replied with her usual wide grin: “No worries, just take a few days’ official holiday, go somewhere and relax. Hopefully you’ll come back refreshed!”
What a lovely thing to say. And don’t mind if I do! Well, that was my plan anyway. It was rudely upturned by the singing competition of Tuesday night. (Yes, I know, I know, yet another competition…)
This, so I’d been told, was the audition for Hainan University’s biggest competition, known as “Top Ten Singers”. Each school of the university could name two or three competitors to audition, meaning there were, in total, 52 auditionees for the 14 places in the final. Oh well, worth a try – go along and enjoy it at the very least.
I played the guitar (which I’ve borrowed from a friend who hadn’t touched it for two years) and sang my mate Martin’s (otherwise known as The Lake Poets – check him out if you haven’t heard his music already) Edinburgh. A quick digression: I have noticed that I am not the most confident in my voice, but as long as I’m hiding behind an instrument I feel much better about singing. Maybe this explains the infrequency of my visits to Chinese karaoke bars, or KTV bars?
It’s a pretty sad song, my favourite lines of which go like this:
I applaud your timing. I applaud your style. (Sarcastic, of course)
I can hear your silence. I can feel your eyes. You can speak your mind but you never will, and now we’re running out of time…
In that Edinburgh bar you said nothing was wrong, but were you lying to me?
How appropriate it was, then, that one young Korean lady was sitting in the audience, there to support her friend who was also taking part. Unsurprisingly, some of the feeling of the song was directed at her, but a glance proved that she wasn’t even able to look in my direction. As mum would say, “eeee well, hey ho”.
Anyway, it was going reasonably well for the most part, with the added emotional thrust. At the end, there was a pretty funny moment which I think will have helped me considerably. The judges had a bell to ring, signifying that your time was up or that they’d heard enough. As I got towards the end of the chorus, I saw a hand hover over said bell. I looked at the judge in the eye and waited for the “ring!”. It didn’t come, so I smiled and we got stuck in a kind of staring match there, nobody really moving. Soon enough the bell rang, so I gave her a nod and a 谢谢 (thank you), then returned to my seat. Video can be seen on my sister’s Tumblr site!
We waited and listened to all the participants, before the results were announced. The standard was pretty high, but I came somewhere between 6th and 10th, thus making my progression to the final, in two weeks’ time (14th June). Huzzah!
It seems like it’s kind of a big deal… The school has applied for £40 of funding to create supporters’ materials (banners, flowers, etc.) and the venue will be full, with just shy of 1,000 people. It’s also broadcast on the university’s Weibo (Chinese Twitter) site, where fellow students can watch and comment… Could be interesting! There will be two rounds to this effort:
Firstly, a duet. We had to draw lots to pick a partner. I drew a girl whose English name is Renee, she’s an English major, and she doesn’t like singing Chinese songs as English-language songs have more feeling. Perfect! Haha. Her voice is probably stronger than mine, so we’re going to perform “Everything Has Changed” by Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran. That way, I can accompany and (attempt to) sing harmonies.
Secondly, individual performance. This is going to be the crowning piece of my time here. As I’m currently really looking forward to going home, what better song to sing than Home by Buble?! I will play the piano and sing, maybe accompanied by a violin if I can arrange it. What’s more, we’re going to make a legitimately legendary video. But you can’t see that until the day of the competition… Hehehe!
So I guess I won’t be taking that holiday for at least another two weeks. Could be a busy fortnight, though, so I might need to take old Xu Miao up on it after this final…! Adios for now.