Being a student is great

This is what happens when you’re on the final stages of recovery after being sick for weeks. You go on a shopping spree:

Oiishi okashi!

I went for my first singing lesson last Friday. Had to postpone a week because of laryngitis. By Friday, I had most of my voice back but it was still a little off.

My teacher said, “You shouldn’t be singing when you have laryngitis! You must take care of your throat because it’s your tool as a singer.”

So, on my first lesson, we merely talked. I told her my singing background and goals while she explained all the basic things that singers should take note of, like posture, breathing and enunciation.

Singing

I’ve wanted to sing professionally most of my life. When I was 16, I picked a singing school at random and signed up for classes.

At my first lesson, I arrived to discover that the lessons were conducted with a karaoke machine. We picked a song for me to sing and the teacher supposedly corrected my mistakes.

He said I shouldn’t do falsetto and that I should strain my throat to reach the high notes even if it kills me. Do enough of this and your voice will improve, he said.

So, in my first lesson, I screamed my throat raw and he said “well done”.

I never went back again.

Singing

After that, I never signed up for anymore lessons for fear of encountering another crook teacher. Until now, that is.

I mean, I’ve been tempted all these years. I know crook teachers are probably the minority. But it’s always either the lack of funds to pay for lessons or the fear of finding out that I have no talent or skill and therefore can never reach level I want.

But now, since I’m on a roll signing up for classes, I thought I might as well give singing a go, finally.

Singing

I decided to go with Lily Anna Nuris at The Music Lab where I was learning drums. (I’ve quit learning drums for now because I found I couldn’t progress without being able to own my own drumset.)

I like The Music Lab, and Lily teaches Olivia Ong (the singer who sang the theme song for The Little Nonya and who enjoyed an illustrious singing career in Japan become returning to Singapore last year).

Lily is a very respected artiste in Singapore with a resume a mile long so hopefully she can fix me. Haha. She will be performing a solo concert this Friday at Esplanade, performing songs by Alanis Morissette.

All I Really Want by Lily Nuris

I think I might go check it out, even if the timing is kinda late, at 9:30pm. She sang several lines for me on Friday to demonstrate her lessons and I think her voice is really sweet.

And my drums teacher Alvin Tan will be part of the band! =D

Besides singing, there are the two dance classes (Hip Hop and Jazz) I’ve already started on. I’m working on my childhood dream of acting in musicals. I think I’ve left it kinda late to start developing skills but that can’t be helped; lessons are expensive.

Anyway, one can still be an actor-performer when one is old and grey right? Surely there are old characters in musicals!

Japanese classes start this Thursday. Erm, this is to indulge in my love of the Japanese language, acquired through reading manga and watching anime.

Anime

I totally love my classes! It’s such a good life being a student and spending all your time learning things you like.

Oh, OH. I watched The Karate Kid last night. It’s freaking amazing. Jaden Smith is freaking amazing. He’s a heartthrob even at the age of 12.

Jaden Smith

(He is Will Smith’s son, in case any of you don’t know. Wang Wang didn’t know until the end of the movie. Duh.)

Of course, it’s making me want to get a jump on signing up for wushu classes now. I’ve been holding back because I thought I had signed up for too many classes already as it is and wanted to see how I deal with the current curriculum first.)

(Also because, a couple of weeks ago, I paid a visit to the school I wanted to learn at, all ready to sign up, and it was closed for the night. -_-)

Oops. It’s almost time to prepare for Jazz dance class.

I’ll just need to go hide all the snacks I laid out to take that photo earlier. I’m not allowing myself to eat any until I’m totally cured.

Yeah, like real.

Dinner with President Nathan at a 6-star hotel

Sponsored

Remember I spoke about the POSB Everyday Champions Award, about how I wanted to nominate the Goonfather for the award for attacking me during his sleep and inadvertently training me in unarmed self-defense combat (although he’d like to have you believe that it’s the other way round)?

Well, the winners have been revealed and I was invited to attend the award ceremony last Thursday to join in the celebrations of these champions for sport.

(The POSB Everyday Champions Award pays tribute to individuals, coaches and organisations that contribute consistently and selflessly, beyond the call of duty, to inspire others to play and grow through sports.)

I had at first pictured the event as being held in a small function room with a mock-up stage and rows of seats facing the stage, and maybe a buffet table serving snacks at the side.

I was told the event would be held at St. Regis Hotel but I knew of no such hotel in Singapore.

When I arrived at the hotel, I was startled by its majestic presence.

St Regis Hotel

I was even more startled to see a row of uniformed hotel staff lining up along the driveway leading to the hotel lobby, as if they were preparing to welcome a VIP.

As I entered the lobby, there was a row of hotel staff wearing formal black suits standing at attention right in front of me. I wondered what big event was happening.

A black suit approached me and asked if he could escort me to the event.

I stared at him dumbly, wondering how he knew what event I was attending. Sensing my hesitation, he confirmed with me that I was attending the POSB Everyday Champions Award Ceremony and showed me the way to the reception lobby.

Impressive.

At the reception, I saw more black suits and dressed-to-kill ladies milling about.

It was while picking up my media pass at the registration table that I confirmed that President S R Nathan was going to be the guest-of-honour for the event. That explained everything! I also found out that St. Regis is a six-star hotel.

How fitting that these sporting heroes should be given due recognition with a grand ceremony in a prestigious six-star hotel. It made my eyes tear to see them recognised and rewarded. I mean that, totally.

With the President of Singapore himself supporting the award and St Regis hosting the event, it illuminates just how important these champions are. Noble and selfless, our sporting heroes truly deserve the prestige of being honoured in such a grand manner.

You might be interested to know that 3,375 nominations were made over a one-month time frame, and 57 winners spanning three categories were picked to receive the award.

The ceremony was held at the John Jacob Ballroom at St. Regis Hotel. It’s a huge, magnificent ballroom. Attending were VIPs, the winners and their guests, and members of the press.

I shared a table with Ming (founder of Nuffnang), Raine (Nuffie) and Leslie (ieatishootipost).

Photos of them later!

There was a huge parade in the lobby before the event started proper, as President S R Nathan arrived and was mobbed by the press.

The other side of the mob:

I like President Nathan. He’s very personable. I had tea with him once at the Istana, together with the cast and crew of Singapore Dreaming. He made the effort to shake hands and talk to every single last person at the event (there were like 50 people, I think). How sweet!

The President’s entrance into the ballroom:

And everyone standing to receive him:

The event started off with a percussion performance, which was unexpected. That was followed by VIP speeches and then dinner.

Oh, before I talk about dinner, I want to remark on the table settings. Everyone had their own personal sauce plates.

The little spoon (about the size of my index finger) is so cute I wish I could have taken it home.

And there’s a pretty and large decoration piece in the middle of the table.

I was wondering where they’re going to put the food, and then the food came. Everyone was served individually. Question answered.

The first course was… very interesting. In fact, almost all courses were quite interesting. They were all very hard to photograph because they were like little portions scattered sparsely on huge plates.

Okay, you know what, this isn’t a food review, so I’m just going to show you a bunch of pictures to sate your curiosity and then we’ll move on.

Alright, I’ll say one thing about the food: The cod fish was sublime. It’s the first time ever I feel compelled to apply the word “creamy” to fish (with no tartar sauce in sight, mind you).

Compliments to the chef. I will have cravings for it my entire life now.

The menu:

There were only five courses but dinner was very filling, overall. I couldn’t even touch my olive and scallop fried rice at the end of it, to my horror, because it was quite delicious. Okay, yeah, I touched a bit of it.

Between courses, the award winners were called up one by one to receive their trophies and certificates from the President.

We were also shown several creative video clips starring the award winners, with the message “Let’s Play”, to promote sports to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.

Leslie and I picked one winner each to “interview”, although I didn’t do much of an interview because a new dish had just been served at the time I got to speak to him, and I didn’t want to keep him from his dinner.

Anyway, I picked Leo Wen Yeow, a wushu coach, because I am a huge wushu fan. I love watching wushu demonstrations and I love practising it myself, just that I never got the chance to attend regular lessons (problem of got time no money, got money no time).


Raine, myself and Leo Wen Yeow

But I feel inspired to make time for it now, after attending this very sports-promoting event.

Here’s Wen Yeow’s writeup on the POSB Everyday Champions website:

To Wen Yeow, his trainees are his family members. And he certainly exemplifies this family spirit. His doors are always open, so his trainees can easily talk to him and come to him for any problems, even for family matters. On festive occasions, Wen Yeow would even organise trips to Sentosa or the zoo, just to build up their team spirit. He is also a compassionate coach, offering to buy the less well-off trainees shoes and attire. Above and beyond normal training, Wen Yeow also buys DVDs of major Wushu events including the recent Beijing Olympics and points out mistakes and the finer details so that his team will score that extra point.

He has been training since the age of five (the same age as when I started gaming!) and now owns his own wushu school. I suppose a visit is in order!

Leslie interviewed Khu Soon Hin, a hawker who plays hockey. Heheh.

Here’s a group photo of all of us!


From left: Soon Hin, Leslie, Ming, Raine, me, Wen Yeow

The event ended at around 9:45 pm, with the President being escorted out of the ballroom.

The President waved at me (or, rather, my camera) as he walked past my table.

Awww.

Well, the party may have ended and the awards awarded, but the campaign is still ongoing!

Would you like to win $1000 in cash? If you would (I know I would), please visit the POSB Everyday Champions website and look through the winners’ profiles.

Be inspired and touched by the stories they have to share!

(I stole that line from the website. Sorry, I just thought it was quite apt.)

Then choose your favourite and vote for him or her. If the champion you voted for is among the top three in his or her specific category after the voting period, you will stand a chance to win $1000! Simple as that! A total of $30,000 will be given away.

The closing date is March 15, 2009.

The POSB Everyday Champions Award is organised by the Singapore Sports Council, with POSB as the title sponsor.

Do drop by to vote and let me know if you win some cash. I want a treat! =P