Singing in Chinese is hard. Especially when
- you don’t speak Chinese
- your singing to an all-Chinese audience of Rai’an’s movers, shaker’s & bigwigs
And so as I was ‘encouraged’ out onto the stage hand-in-hand with Camille, a 50-something long-time Chinese student of King’s, in front of a few hundred potential new clients at the new school’s grand opening, I was just pleased it was dark enough that no-one could see the phonetically scrawled note in my hand containing the first two verses of the quite appalling ‘You and me’ (2008) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC0w7-RWm_U) I’m not a fan of the song but it was Camille’s suggestion which was seconded by the school as it’s in both languages and talks about coming together (not like that!) so I can’t argue that it suited the occasion.
There is kind of precedent for this as I’ve sung the Irish national anthem in Gaelic a few years back although that was part of a large group and in front of 55,000 football fans at the Aviva stadium. If I’d screwed that up and they’d then figured out an Englishman was there singing ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ I’m sure I wouldn’t be around today.
The show went well enough that afterwards people were approaching me and (understandably) thinking I could speak Chinese so I’ll chalk that up as a win, despite the large number of subsequent awkward ‘conversations’ (if you could call me shrugging then apologising for not knowing what the fuck someone is talking about, then them not understanding what I’ve said anyway a conversation)
As it was the whole ‘new school launch show’ show was a big success with native dances from South Africa, Brazil and Russia demonstrated by various teachers, local singers, child students from our sister school ‘Up Street English’ performing various language proficiency skills on stage. My personal highlight was a hugely slapstick performance from myself and the UK teachers involving throwing a bucket of water over Pete (to demonstrate the weather) Stu (dressed as the Queen) being attacked by Leighton (dressed as Sid Vicious) with shaving foam who was subsequently attacked and dragged offstage by myself & Pete dresser as policemen (a little to vigorously in truth, Leighton caught a clip round the mouth from Pete and chipped at tooth!) the sacrifices we make for our art 🙂
Thankfully once the performances were over local bar owner and subsequently friend of all the foreign teachers (and now also myself) Ken was on hand to provide some free drinks and we got to sit around and dissect the performances once everyone cleared out. I’m just pleased it happened on a work day, I was getting paid so I’m chalking that up as my first professional singing gig in China. There’s just a few days now and then it’s a national holiday week in China and I’ll be heading away for a few days (updates to follow) At some point in the next few months I might actually get some teaching done!