Playing Piano and Guitar

A few months ago I became a little ‘obsessive’ about learning the piano, and have been barely able to contain myself around any keyboards I have come into contact lately.   Dare I say it, I even wagged a few classes as school in favour of a chance to practice on the Grand Piano in the hall when no one else was around – naughty I know but hey, my ability to play is getting better and better every day, and I might have a better chance of work in a piano bar one day than winning a pop-quiz about history.

So as I was saying, I’m a little OTT in my passion for this new found ability to play piano.  But this week, I picked up a guitar, and have hardly been able to put it down.   I just love it.   And I’m blessed to have some great mates at school who have been helping me to learn things I am picking up pretty fast too.  That helps!

So ask me in another few months about my favourite instrument to play and I’ll be hard pressed to say, but for today, I just want to play! Playing piano and guitar has been made a lot easier for me by having people around who can teach me things, but mostly I’m finding the internet is a great teacher. There are some amazing programmes and files on there for someone like me who doesn’t want to go at a ‘weekly-lesson-pace’.


(Me singing and accompanying myself for the first time in public – one of my all time favourite songs)

And – as I keep telling my family, I’ll be better able to write songs if I can play them.  🙂

What’s your latest obsession?

Cheers,
Alex

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Wow – life gets busy sometimes!

What an amazing few weeks – sorry it’s been a while since I had time to write anything, but here’s an update of what’s been happening lately.

I have just returned from Rarotonga where I was singing with my high school Jazz Band!  We nailed it there – totally cool concerts and lots of fun with the locals.   We got great feedback from all our dates, and I learned so much about my performance and style from mates Peni and Elisha, the other singers on tour.

So back to cold old Hamilton, and on Wednesday a quick dash up the motorway to Auckland for Westfield talent show. I won my heat!  That was cool.   Yesterday I had to get back to Auckland for the final of that show – and OMG – the nerves totally took over as I was last behind two amazing girls who just dazzled the audience.  My own confidence took a nosedive and all the best stuff just lay on the floor.   I still placed 3rd overall, but it was  BIG lesson on what nerves can do, and also the importance of song choice.

I sang Come Fly with Me on Wednesday, and Dream a Little Dream of Me yesterday – both songs I love and which show off my voice well but in hindsight, DaLD was not really a great show piece that got people tapping their feet.

So – lots of big lessons lately.   And – it’s school holidays, so what’s with that?  🙂

So – on Tuesday this week I’m jetting off to Brisbane for a few days with my Mum who has some speaking work to do there.  We’re going to hang out, check out some schools, and talk to some people… I’d love to move to AUS – sooner rather than later, so let’s see how this trip goes.   I still have to talk my family into it!

Laters,

Alex

PS – My next big gig is a 60th Birthday party next weekend – I can’t wait!

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What do you think about NZ’s Got Talent?

This is a question I’ve been asked so much lately, I’m sure I’ve got my answer down to a fine thing.  “It’s great but not a show specifically for singers”.

“So  are you going to Audition?”

“Well I need the audition experience, but…”

…and to be honest, I’m not sure it’s a good idea for kids my age to go into big shows like that.  I saw how it was for Astro and Rachel Crow on XFactor USA last year and that put me right off!  But I can also appreciate that there’s a great opportunity for anyone to get their 5 minutes of fame from a show like NZs GT too.

Happy to take your feedback on this.

Meanwhile, life is pretty busy getting ready for our school Jazz Band trip to Rarotonga at the end of this month, and then our school production is on soon after.  I’m singing a lot for both events, and pretty excited about it – although Rarotonga is the main event!

I think I worked out I’m the busiest kid I know – aside from my friend Katie Trigg who sings opera and we do a lot together.     In fact, last month we both got together and did a special event for Starbucks in Hamilton – it was Taylor the Latte Boy, (Katie)  and the Rebuttal Song (Me)  check out this link.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4P3Ut7Jqc0g&feature=g-upl

Fun but weird!   We loved the whole instant live theatre thing….

Till next time

🙂

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Learning learning learning…

It’s a constant thing – I’m learning all the time, and everytime I perform, I learn something too. Like last week I was invited to sing with a blues house band in a bar.   We had a short rehearsal, and then the next night, I did three songs with them.  It was the first time I sang with a ‘back up singer’ – Carla Graham – which was amazing, and she’s such a lovely lady with a great voice. She was very supportive and helped in so many ways with my on-stage confidence too.

I think if I ask the right questions I’ll get the best help, I just wish I could find more people to pester and ask the right questions of.

 

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The Music I Listen to

I went out to the Cambridge market again yesterday where I sang with Katie Trigg… it was a sunny autumn morning, and I was really enjoying myself singing some Sinatra tunes, when a group of Asian tourists stopped and started taking video and still shots of me singing.  They watched for  while and then clapped after each song.  It was such fun to feel like a mini-celebrity for a few minutes.

I’m working on some new songs right now so that I can continue to grow my list – it’s fun to do, and while I always have my favourites, it’s good to keep adding some.   This morning I sat down with my mother and went through some old songs in her collection, like Jim Croce, Englebert Humperdink and Tony Christie.   There are some really good ones we found for me to sing – and it was fun listening to these old songs and hearing her stories about them, and the singers.

I have to confess… I LOVE singing crooner/swing/jazz songs, but when I relax and listen to music when I’m studying or hanging out with my mates, I mostly listen to Bruno Mars and Nicklback, and a number of current top 40 groups.   My brother reckons I’ve got the MOST eccentric taste in music of any teen ever.   I’d love to know what Michael Buble would say about that!

Oh – and It’s my birthday this week…  finally turning 14.   Which is weird too, because I keep getting told I look much older…. someone asked if I was at university yesterday when I was packing up my gear at the market.

I wonder what exciting stuff this year will bring!

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A Busy March

Well it’s been a really busy few weeks, but here’s what’s been happening:

Last week I was invited to sing at the Waikato Stroke Foundation monthly lunchtime meeting, it was lovely to see my old friend Annette there – she found me at the Markets a while ago and booked me for this event.   She’s a lovely lady, and it was a real honor to be made so welcome by her friends at the Stroke Foundation.  Here’s a video of some of the fun we had.  http://youtu.be/ncyoazHm9Wc

I sang at a really lovely garden wedding on 10th March in Papamoa – 2 hours of background music, but I had a few people actually pull up their chairs to sit close and provide me with an attentive audience. That was fun, and a really nice way to spend a few hours entertaining people who were all happy and enjoying themselves.

That weekend I also went for an audition for Oliver – which is being directed by David Sidwell and stars Richard O’Brien as Fagan.  I was offered a great part, but unfortunately had to turn it down as the show clashes with a prior commitment – my school jazz band is going to Rarotonga in July, and they need me to sing more than the Operatic Society need me to act this time.   I wish that cloning was a option sometimes when there are so many cool things to choose to do.

And lately, I’ve been busy getting ready to do a special event at a Starbucks in Hamilton, with my friend Katie Trigg, who has an amazing voice too.  In fact, if you are in town on the 13th April, be sure to stop into the Starbucks on Ward Street at about 12.30 for some lunch and light entertainment by yours truly.

Finally – on Saturday I was busking at the Cambridge Market, a lovely place to be on a sunny autumn day – and a really lovely lady names Barbie Davidson came up to me and gave me her card and lots of encouragement.  Shes a singer too, and it was really helpful and very reassuring to have someone like that take time to talk to a start-out like me.   I hope to keep in touch with her and maybe get some time with her to talk a lot more.

Anyway – it’s Monday and back to school today, but singing lessons today, and I recently started working with a new voice coach who is just fantastic – so that’s something to look forward to this afternoon.

 

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Gearing up for more…

Well I’m off to a really busy start this year so far – signed up for Jazz Band and Theater Sports at school again, and band camp last weekend… now working hard to make sure our Theater Sports team aces the competition this year.

Two BIG things coming up for this weekend – tonight an audition for OLIVER at the Hamilton Operatic Society, I’m trying out for the part of the Artful Dodger, and there’s a rumour that the amazing Richard O’Brien has been signed to play Fagan!  It would be SOOO amazing to be in a major production with ‘Mr Rocky Horror Picture Show’ for sure.    And tomorrow I’m performing for a wedding in Papamoa.  Hope the weather holds as I am singing outdoors in a lovely big garden for a couple of hours.

Today of course means that I have LOTS Of practice and preparation to get through… all good.

I’d MUCH prefer to do this than go to school…  ahh one day!

 

 

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Home Time…

Well it’s time to pack up and head home – my flight back to Hamilton is only a few hours away now, and I’ve had a great time in Christchurch at the World Buskers Festival.  I’ve also met some great people, like:

  • Brendon the Magician
  • Nellie the Dancer
  • Jack the Juggler

And who can forget Max and Cam, best known to their fans as ‘I Gave Those Guys Five Bucks’.  What a great name for a couple of guys who juggle, sing, ride a unicycle, and are really entertaining.   They’ve been busking for 5 years already, and they are only 14 years old.   I was really impressed!  And it was fun sharing the stage with all these amazing talented people.

It’s fun to hang out with other kids who feel like I do about wanting to succeed as performers one day – and I really have had a great week of being able to do that, and made some new friends I hope to keep in touch with – and hey, maybe we’ll all be in Vegas together one day… who knows.

Well it’s time to pack! And school starts on Tuesday!

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The Easiest Money Ever!

Well today I was all excited about singing/busking for a while before my show-time at the Botanical Gardens, and had picked a spot just outside the cafe there.  I set up, and started singing ‘Witchcraft’, and just starting to get into verse two, when a lady walked up to me…

Well – she explained that sorry, I was not allowed to busk there.  Oops!

But while she was talking with me, this very nice lady came up and interrupted us, to say how much she was enjoying the music.

No go – still not allowed to keep singing!

So as I was packing up, this nice lady came back – after the grumpy manager lady left – and handed me a folded up note.  She said that she and her husband were on holiday from London and that she wanted to encourage me to keep singing, because from the little she’d heard so far, I sounded like I was pretty good.

She went back to her table, and I finished packing up – then checked the note she’d handed me… wow – $15 for only half a song!  That’s a record for me!

To the lovely blonde lady with flowers in her hair, travelling and stopping off at the Christchurch Botanical Gardens cafe this afternoon  I wish you both a lovely holiday in NZ and really want to thank you for your amazing generosity.

I carried on and sang four songs at the Kids Pitch a little while later and unfortunately the crowd was pretty small, but I felt like I’d done a good job and all the practice I’d put in this week was worth it.

So – nearly time for home – another few days and back to Hamilton, School and who knows what next.

 

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Busking my way to fame at the world buskers festival in Christchurch

To get the practice and exposure I need to make it to where I want to go, I do a lot of busking where I can at places like the VegeKing in Heaphy Tce, Tamahere Markets, Farmers Markets and any where else there’s a chance to put my hat out.   It’s mostly good fun and I earn quite a bit towards my singing lessons, and my planned trip to London where I want to Audition for BRIT this year.

I’m going to write about my experiences here when busking and all the opportunities I’m exploring this year – I hope you enjoy this journey with me.

Today had my first performance busking at the World Buskers Festival in Christchurch ….. Ok but not as well as I would have liked – there’s a really cool girl called Alex (go figure!) who I want to beat in this competition – it was ok but I would have liked to do better. But not to worry I have plenty of chances to redeem myself throughout the week, as I have to sing again in the busking competition on Tuesday and Wednesday as the judges make their decision on Thursday about who gets to perform in the finals on Sunday next weekend.  This has been exciting and challenging as a start to this festival and it’s nice being in Christchurch for the first time ever. 

I’ll be keeping you posted throughout the week,

Ciao J

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