When I was 9, in grade 4, there was this Sinhala Day, which is kind of a language day, held annually, in Primary section. There were many competitions among the array of designated events before the main event, such as Essay Writing, Dictation, Reciting Sinhala verses, Kavi, and Singing songs as well as a Drama competition.
So for selecting students there was a mini competition among the classes conducted by the respective class teachers and students were selected upon according to the highest marks obtained and for Singing and Reciting it was her judgment that selected students.
I was got chosen for Singing competition, together with a couple of classmates! We were given a list of songs to select one in order to sing at the competition. I chose or I was given, I don’t actually recall the exact there, ‘Me Sinhala Apage Ratayi’ – මේ සිංහල අපගේ රටයි by Nanda Malini, one of the best and the greatest and renowned Singers in Sri Lanka.
Teacher helped me to find the lyrics and we were asked to sing the chosen songs a few times in front of the classroom as a practice, before the competition day.
Then on the Singing Competition day, held at the Principal’s Office of the Primary Section, there were around 20 students queued up for. The judges were the Principal of the Primary Section himself and another teacher we had not seen before, whom we later found out as the Eastern Music teacher. He was a famous musician in Galle and by late 2000s he even went on musical tours around the world with his band as well, and I heard that he is back at college as the Eastern music teacher.
The competition began and there was this classmate who sang ‘Mage Ratata Dalanda Himi Sewanayi’ – මගේ රටට දළඳා හිමි සෙවණයි by Sanath Nandasiri, another great singer in Sri Lanka, made sure he will get away with the first place. We all thought so as soon as he finished the song seeing the Eastern music teacher was so keen on his singing and it was actually one of the best Singing performances I had seen by then.
Then came my turn and I began singing. I finished the song and the teacher commented that I had totally missed the variations of the song. Actually I had not even listened to that song ever by then and I had simply recited the lyrics!
After that competition I once sang a song, ‘Diya Goda Sama Thana Kiri Ithire’ – දිය ගොඩ සැම තැන කිරි ඉතිරේ by late Sunil Shantha, a renowned and influential composer in Sri Lanka, in a morning assembly in grade 5 and the song was not that hard and I remember that it was praised well.
On several occasions I was chosen to choirs for college events as Prize Giving and English Days, but it all stopped by around grade 7 where I found out singing was difficult for me. I did not pursue singing after that. Even as an Aesthetic subject I had chosen Arts and after 3 years of following it, I became pretty good at it.
I find singing even simple lines with rhyming are hard hence I wonder on how on Earth I was able to sing when I was a kid and why I can’t sing now. I listen to many songs in many languages now and I am a music lover, as many of us are.
Singing is a talent I admire thoroughly. The singer is able to make listeners feel of something unexplainable and thus entertain the said with their voices. They entertain thousands. Their variations and improvisations together with music give us, the listeners feel crave for songs and music. Great singers are not born overnight and not every singer is a good performer and not every performer is a good singer. For good measure, I can’t sing, now, although yours truly would make a good bathroom singer, at most!