Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Party's Over

Dear Readers,

It's all over.  Can you believe it?  11 months of hard work and preparation....

Let me just tell you that last night's performance was one of the highlights of my life.  Here are some crazy videos to give you an idea of how much fun we all had.  My dear sister, Mary, has solved the rotating video problem, so click away and enjoy:

This is the dress rehearsal performance of Michael Ogborn's "Remember Me" from Box Office of the Damned.  A Singapore premiere, and the audience loved it!

More backstage antics:

Jiu Jian had 2, count 'em, 2 photographers AND a videographer at the show, so there will be much better quality videos and photos available in the coming months.  Of course I have more photos as well, but I'm going to take my well-deserved technology break now.

Thanks again to all of you for your interest and support.  This project has been life-altering.  I have the feeling we are not done with Singapore.  See you all soon!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Another Op'nin', Another Show

Yup, tonight's the night.  We spent yesterday in technical rehearsals - about 7 hours.  But James, the production manager, did a fantastic job of putting everything into place, so this afternoon's dress rehearsal should go smoothly.  

The house is almost completely sold out - only 8 seats were remaining yesterday!  That's a good feeling.

I also spent my last hours working with the kids yesterday.  They loved playing theatre games with me, specifically The Magic Wind and Postcards.  We also made a musical Fruit Salad this week.  Let me see if I can post the video trailer created from this week's workshops:

Hard to believe my work is almost done here.  It has been almost a year of preparation for 7 days of music, art, travel, a whole new country!  Thanks to all of you for your support.  You have helped me keep going on this project when I thought I should give it up.  And especially, thank you to Jiu Jian for being so curious 11 months ago.

I'll see if I can get Nick to take some photos or video during this afternoon's dress rehearsal.  We'll post tomorrow and then I will take my well-deserved technology break.


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

For Colleen (But The Rest of You Can Look At It)

Take a look at this:

Jiu Jian told me it was a casino.  Turns out it is the new Sands Casino (I know, Colleen, competitor) that is opening today.  According to the many advertisements I saw in the newspaper this morning, the opening concert includes Diana Ross and Jersey Boys.  Also, there's a infinity pool in that top structure.

I took this photo out of the hotel window.  Great view, eh?  Oh, for you geography buffs out there, that's the South China Sea on the other side of the casino.

Here's one more photo from the street to give you more perspective:

Where Did That Day Go?

Greetings Earthlings,

Whew!  Yesterday was another jam-packed day here in Singapore.  It started very early (at least for me) with this:

We dashed back to the hotel to catch ourselves on tv.  Here's a portion of the interview, where I actually sing in Mandarin on national television.  FYI, I was recording by holding my Droid in front of the tv, so apologies for the poor quality.  Jiu Jian has a better-quality version, which I will get later:

I still can't believe I did that!

The afternoon was filled with the kids' workshop.  In the evening, I had a wonderful workshop with a delightful group of adults.  We had a great time exploring singing and learning "Lullaby of Broadway".  Most of them are returning this evening, so I'm looking forward to another great session.

BTW, I know I'm using words like great, fabulous, wonderful, etc. quite a bit.  Yes, my experiences here are that fabulous!

Richard and Nick arrived this morning.  I used the MRT to meet them at the airport and to get them back to the hotel.  Nick loves the breakfast, is impressed with the 2 swimming pools, and has already found American baseball (Yankees, go figure) on tv.  A good start to the teen's first visit to Asia.

Thanks for your support!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Another Busy Day in Singapore

Whew!  Where did this day go?

I started with a delightful breakfast with Connie Kirker, a friend of a friend who is presently living here in Singapore.  Getting her expat insights on Singaporean culture was great.  Taught 3 lessons and had a blast.  Rehearsed with Jiu Jian and Julian at the Cristofari studios next door to my hotel.

Tomorrow I have to get up at 6:00 am, as we are scheduled to be on tv here LIVE sometime before 8:00 am.  Yes, it is true.  Heidi Hayes will have to function in public before 9:00 am.  Not just speak in complete sentences, but even SING.  In Mandarin.  No, I'm not thinking about this, I'm just doing it.  I'm sure you'll all want to read about that event!

Connie has invited me to tour the Asian Civilizations Museum with her in the late morning.  More work with the kids in the afternoon and in the evening, the first of the adult workshops.  I've already met two of the participants; if everyone is as pleasant, we will have a great time.

Today's photo features this handy-dandy way to transport your carry-out drinks:

Thanks for checking in!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

This Is Interesting

Another successful day with the kids and another successful rehearsal with Julian and Jiu-Jian.  Walked to the DES (Dance Ensemble Singapore) studio which is maybe 6 blocks away.  Not a long walk, but in the middle of the day, it was HOT.  I had to stop for a delicious lemon ice tea before I could cross the street to start rehearsing.  Life is tough, isn't it?

After rehearsal, dim sum dinner in Chinatown - yum yum.  Walked back to the hotel, so at least I got some exercise which means I get to eat more tomorrow.  Hooray!

But here's what is interesting.  Read the article I've linked to below.  It was in the Singapore Straits Times this morning.  I think the topic will surprise my American readers, as it deals with censoring the arts.  Yes, they have a censorship board here in Singapore.  Really, read the article...and no, I'm not going to get censored while I'm performing here!

Did get to see 4 different temples today - 2 Hindu and 2 Buddhist.  The Hindu temples are extremely ornate.  Sorry, no photos, but I'm sure Richard will want to see them, so I'll return later this week.

Tomorrow's agenda - coffee with an American friend of a friend, 3 hours of lessons and 2 hours of rehearsal. Life is good!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

My First Day

Yesterday was my first day on the job with Ko-nen Creative.  I started with a private lesson with a super-talented Singaporean actor, Jeffrey Low.  Working with Jeffrey was just like working with so many of my students in the States.  He is immensely talented as a singer, but thinks of himself as an actor first.  Hence, his instincts for singing are quite good, but he doesn't have the understanding of what he is doing when he sings.  We had a good hour together and then we joined Jiu Jian for chicken and rice at a food stall across the street from Dance Ensemble Singapore's facilities.  I'm not having any trouble finding good food to eat!

Then, I spent two hours with some of the Ko-nen kids.  Yesterday's group, all girls, ranged in age from 6 to 16.  They were just like American kids - some were shy, some had bundles of energy, all of them were lots of fun.  We warmed up first:

We took some time to get the wiggles out:

Then we moved to the dance studio across the hall to play some theatre games, an activity I always love.  I was surprised that one of the older students (Roseanne) knew many of the games.

Dance Ensemble Singapore's space is just like most of the facilities I've worked at in the US.  I walked in and immediately felt at home.  Except for the fact that you take your shoes off when you enter the room.

The kids and I rehearsed Do Re Mi with our accompanist, Julian Wong (more about him in a minute).  Jiu Jian has done an excellent job of teaching the kids their music.  They know it cold.  They also sang a beautiful song Jiu Jian composed.  Everyone is calling it The Mama Song.  A lovely melody that incorporates a beloved folk song about mothers.  Jiu Jian told me what the rest of the song means, but I forgot already!  Just like I forgot most of the kids' names already.  Of course I can remember those that have western names, but the Chinese names I'll have to take another stab at today.

After we finished with the kids, Jiu Jian, Julian and I moved to a great rehearsal space at the Cristofari piano store (conveniently located in the mall next to my hotel).  Cristofari is one of the generous sponsors of 2Voices10Fingers.  Julian is great!  He played Everybody Says Don't without a problem and I gave him a big hug.  That's the first song I'm singing on Friday's soiree and it has a tricky piano part (thanks a lot, Stephen Sondheim).  I knew I was taking a chance programming that song, so when Julian whipped it off, I was ecstatic.  I was even more ecstatic when I remembered 99% of the words.

Jiu Jian and I ended the evening guessed it...more food!  A quick review of my Chinese lyrics, which I now must work on before today's rehearsal.  I'm back at it with Julian and Jiu Jian for a couple of hours and then work with the kids again.

Just in case you were wondering - I was exhausted by the end of yesterday, too tired to write this post.  Fell into bed around 10:30 and woke up at 5:00 am.  ARGGHHH.  I was able to doze until 7:00 am.  So, my body is almost on Singapore time.

Go Phillies!  Of course they're winning.  Always happens.  I leave town and they win.  So, if we want the Phils to win, we just have to make sure I leave town.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Arts House

It was really great to see our performing space today.  Here's the front of the Arts House.  The elephant statue was a present from King Chulalongkom of Siam in 1871. No, that isn't the king in Rodgers and Hammerstein's The King And I.  It is his son (who is also in the musical).  There's your musical theatre trivia for the day.

Jiu Jian with our cool publicity.  By the way, we are performing in the Chamber, which was the official meeting place of the national parliament of Singapore.  How cool is that?!?!?

Okay, I'm one tired puppy.  I'm going to sleep in a real bed tonight.  Tomorrow I start with some private lessons, work with the kids and end with a rehearsal with Jiu Jian and Julian.  Diving right in!

2 Voices 10 Fingers Ticket and Show Information

Here's some of the great publicity Jiu Jian has done for our performance next Friday night.  Right under your feet when you enter the Arts House!

The specifics:

2 Voices 10 Fingers Soiree
The Arts House, Chamber
Friday, 25 June 2010, 8pm - 10pm (plus a 20 minute sharing session after the show)

Tickets are $28 for the Upper Chamber and $38 for the Lower Chamber plus a $2 ticketing charge.

To order tickets, call: +65 63326919 or

Those of you who are in Singapore and attending, I would love to meet you after the performance.

Those of you who have friends in Singapore, please pass this info on.

I'm Here!

Hi everyone,

I made it! The 21-hour flight wasn't nearly as bad as I expected. Singapore Air lived up to its reputation with frequent meals that were very good airplane food goes and a really good entertainment system. I got a kick out of watching Marley and Me (filmed in my home stomping grounds, complete with a brief appearance by my former student, Megan, as John Grogan's secretary) while flying over Pakistan.

Jiu Jian met me at the airport (at 6:30 am) and we immediately picked up where we left off last July. We spent the morning finding the hotel and looking at the Arts House. What a great space! Then I was treated to a massage and facial, which I highly recommend after a long flight. Up from a nap for dinner and some rehearsing. Yes, you read that correctly. We are going to start with a brief rehearsal this evening. That should keep me awake and help my body adjust; that's the plan, anyway!

Singapore has lived up to its reputation as a clean and fashionable city. I hope to be able to figure out how to download some photos for you by tomorrow. For now, its time for some study before I meet Jiu Jian.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Got My Suit Pressed

Hey Everyone!

My last post before I leave the US. I know the quality isn't great, but I wanted to get something up here for all of you. The next time I post, I plan to be in Singapore.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Read This

I really liked this op-ed piece by David Brooks in the NY Times this morning. I'm posting it here because I think it is very relevant to the work that I attempt to do every day of my life.

Op-Ed Columnist - History for Dollars -

strawberry fields forever

We've got a beautiful day here. I wanted everyone, but especially my soon-to-be-friends in Singapore to see how I get to start every morning this time of the year. It is strawberry season, so I head out to my small strawberry patch (I bet that's a new word for many of you) and pick fresh strawberries for breakfast. Look how many I picked this morning!

I'd bring some along, but I think they'll be mush after my 20+ hours of travel.

See you next week!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Keep Those Cards and Letters Coming, Folks

My good friend and avid supporter, Jean Scholz, sent me this question:

Heidi and JJ, is there anything like cabaret (or wandering minstrels, burlesque shows, etc.) in Singaporean music/theatre traditions?

Jiu Jian was kind enough to write this detailed response:

Hi Jean Scholz, thanks for being curious:) for Singapore as we are still a very young country, less than 50 years. So over here ,our music and theatre are still very influenced by the western and china. But we do have our own chinese folk music , we call it Xin Yao that started since 1983. It was started by students from high school and university , with own music and lyric writen by ourselves. it has sort of the contemporary poem style ( in mandarin) , from this Xin Yao music form , it brings out a lot of popular sing song writer or song writer in Asia now adays . I am one of them that joined them near the end of this Music genre, it sort of dies off in year 1991 but alot of us that came from this group remain in the commercial music industry and have been active in our own field till now.
You could google "Singapore Xin Yao " and there should be some write up on it.

as for musical , we are even more young and have only started our own production in the pass 15years. but the english theatre has been growing very strong and local english theatre has already gain a firm ground for local audiences . As for the mandarin musical production its getting more mature for the pass 3 years and there was some very successful production this recent years .

In Singapore cabaret are not very popular but unplugged session are much more common for the young performers.

hope that my brief answers will be able to give you a better picture in our performing scene here in Singapore .

Jiu Jian

Getting to Know Jiu Jian

Finally! I finally figured out how to get Jiu Jian's music out here. Thanks, Mary for the hint about video files. That made my brain click in.

I created a short photo collage to go with the music. Jiu Jian sent me 2 more songs, so I'll be posting more this week.


Friday, June 4, 2010

And Now, For Your Viewing Pleasure

I decided to try out the webcam on my computer. I know, I know, everyone uses them all the time, but for me, it is still a relatively new feature. Hope you enjoy this quick video!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

3 Weeks and It Couldn't Be Better

Actually it is only 2 weeks, but the song I'm referring to in the title of this post doesn't talk about 2 weeks (boy, is that a hint!).

Hey, sorry I've not been posting. I did take a couple of days off for the Memorial Day weekend. Nice to rejuvenate a little bit before I head out. The rest of my time has been filled with details details details...and practicing those songs in Mandarin, as well as the other songs I'm going to sing. JJ and I did decide on the playlist for the soiree. I don't want to spoil the evening for those of you that get to attend. Let's just say I'm singing songs by Sondheim, Rodgers & Hammerstein, Menken, Jiu Jian Kenn and Michael Ogborn. Some of those names are very familiar, I'm sure. The others SHOULD be. Just because a composer's name isn't familiar to you doesn't mean their music won't be great. Remember that.

JJ did send me some recordings of some of his compositions, but I'm finding it a bit more difficult than I expected to upload mp3s to this blog. Anyone got any great hints on that one? I'll keep trying to figure it out and hope to get those posted soon.

I think I'll be ready to post a rehearsal video for all of you by this time next week. Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Getting To Know Me

Thanks for checking out the 2 Voices 10 Fingers blog! I'm really happy to see so many of you out here.

I also realized that quite a few of you are coming from JJ's side of this project. Hence, you know very little about me. So, here's a trailer of some of my cabaret work. Enjoy!

I look forward to meeting all of you in Singapore next month! And to all of my US friends and followers, thanks for tagging along.

BTW, has anyone noticed that I often play with song titles or lyrics in my blog titles? I'm wondering who can figure out the songs I've played with on today's 2 posts. Leave me a comment with your guesses!

A Whole New Language

At least for me!

Jiu Jian (is it okay if I call him JJ after this post? And you'll all remember that?) writes and sings primarily in Mandarin. Being Singaporean, he does speak English, extremely well. I could have just relied on JJ's English skills for this project, but no! Not me! Why make it easy on yourself when you can raise the bar? So, I decided I would attempt to learn at least a little bit of Mandarin AND I would sing in Mandarin.

Seriously, I enjoy learning new languages, even though I rarely reach fluency. And even more seriously, I think it is a sign of respect for another country and culture to at least attempt to learn some of their language. In addition, it is great for my brain. Yours too. Try it.

JJ seemed pretty happy that I wanted to do this, so off I went. I've been studying Mandarin on and off since September using the Rosetta Stone software. Expensive, but I highly recommend it. And then, sometime last month, JJ sent me the lyrics to two songs that we will be singing on the 2V10F Soiree. One is a Mandarin translation of All For One from High School Musical 2. I'll be singing that with the kids. The other is an absolutely beautiful trio from a Mandarin musical written by one of JJ's colleagues. Yup, that means I dragged Richard (that's my husband and frequent singing partner) into this as well. After all these years, I think he's getting used to my crazy ideas.

So, here's part of what I received from JJ:

身边人影 左右褪尽

所有声音 渐渐停息

天地之大 我的眼眸中只有她

有没有人懂我 心中也有一朵


I then took these lyrics to and transliterated them into Pinyin. Pinyin uses the Roman alphabet (in case you forgot, that's the one we native English speakers and most western languages use). So then I ended up with this:

身边人影 左右褪尽
shēn biān rén yǐng zuǒ yòu tùi jìn

所有声音 渐渐停息
suǒ yǒu shēng yīn jiàn jiàn tíng xī

天地之大 我的眼眸中只有她
tiān dì zhī dà wǒ de yǎn móu zhōng zhǐ yǒu tā

有没有人懂我 心中也有一朵
yǒu méi yǒu rén dǒng wǒ xīn zhōng yě yǒu yī duǒ

sòng bù chū qù de huā?

JJ also sent me a recording of the song, so now I could start practicing. I did send the lyrics back to JJ to make sure they were correct; he only had to make one or two changes.

So now, every day (okay, I took yesterday off!), I am either just saying the syllables or singing along with JJ. Tuesday I found I was getting stuck on 2 syllables. It felt like a total tongue twister to say: xīn zhōng. A simple English translation would be shin jong, and that's really simple. So, I wrote the words on a post-it note and stuck it next to me on the piano. Since I was teaching and practicing quite a bit that day, I would just say them throughout the day. By 4:00 pm, I could say it without stumbling.

Probably by the end of next week, I'm planning on posting a clip of me working on this. I think it will be interesting for all of you to hear me at work!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Going To The Other Side Of The Planet

And not staying for a while would be rather silly, don't you think?

That's why there will be more to this trip than just 2 Voices+10 Fingers. When my work ends on June 27, Richard, Nick and I will take off for a little over 2 weeks of personal travel throughout SE Asia. Our itinerary includes Borneo, Thailand (more on THAT later), Cambodia and Vietnam. Vietnam will be of particular interest for us, as Richard served there in the US Army during the Vietnam War/Conflict. He hasn't been back since.

I don't plan to blog during that part of the trip, at least not on a regular basis. As much as I enjoy keeping in touch with all of you, I think I might need some time unplugged from the world. Being on vacation in SE Asia should give me a good opportunity for that, don't you think?

I've planned many of our previous international trips, but early on in the planning for this one I realized there was no way I could coordinate a trip this complicated. We're all leaving the US at different times, we're visiting 5 different countries, etc. We were fortunate to find Roe at Escapes Unlimited (, a travel agency that specializes in SE Asia. Roe has been fabulous at helping us plan this trip and actually get all of the flights, hotels and tours booked. Thanks Roe!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

My Singaporean Colleague, Jiu Jian Kenn

Since most of you are reading from the Heidi side of this project, you don't know very much, if anything about Jiu Jian Kenn. Here's a very brief bio and photo.

Jiu Jian: Producer/Musical Director/Lead Performer

A renowned singer/song writer/artiste/producer/educator, Jiu Jian has received many accolades for his singing and song writing talents, winning the 1990 Xin Yao Best Music Award and the Taiwan Song Writer Society 1999 Best Singles. He has since penned songs for Jacky Cheung, Ronald Chen, Andy Xu and other well-known stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well written theme music for many MediaCorp Chinese drama serials.

As much as he enjoyed singing and song writing, his biggest creative passion came from his stage performances. His stage credits include a Mandarin version of “Private Part” in 1994 , the first local Mandarin musical “December Rain” in 1996, Dance Musical Drama “M. Butterfly” in 1997, “Chase” musical in 2000 , “Love On Stage” Dance Musical Drama in 2008 and this year’s Dance Musical Drama “Butterfly Dreams” – which is the third collaboration he’s done with Dance Ensemble Singapore.

In 2008, Jiu Jian celebrated his 20th years in the music scene with his own concert and produced a fundraising song for the Si Chuan earthquake victims that involved more than 60 local music talents. And in 2009, he founded Ko-nen Creative Ltd, a non-profit company dedicated to promoting Mandarin multi-disciplinary performances and creative events that involves art, music, theatre and lifestyle fashion, where he sits as Artistic Director.

I'm going to ask Jiu Jian for a link to some of his music. I'll post that later this week. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

How It All Started

Sometimes unexpected opportunities present themselves. That's what happened to me in July of 2009. I went to teach my beloved musical theatre class at Walnut St. Theatre one Tuesday evening and was asked by the office if someone could observe my class. "Of course!" was my response. The observer turned out to be Jiu Jian Kenn, who is now my collaborator on the upcoming 2Voices10Fingers Soiree and workshops.

Jiu Jian, an extremely talented native of Singapore, was in the US with the Dance Ensemble Singapore. He enjoyed the class so much he asked if he could have a private lesson with me. By the end of the following week, some lessons and a great deal of conversation had transpired, and we started preliminary discussions for collaboration in Singapore.

The photo you see at the top of this post is from one of Jiu Jian's lessons last summer. As you can see, we both had a great time in these lessons. It was fascinating for me to work with a singer coming from a very different culture. I think Jiu Jian was excited about the vocal ideas and the progress he made in a few lessons.

It was a remarkable experience to find another person from the other side of the planet with so many similar ideas about the power of music. Modern life is so taken with technology, facts, data, the black and white. Music takes data (pitches, rhythms, and in the case of singers, words) and turns it into a medium for human emotion. To find someone else with a similar attitude - I can't tell you how invigorating that was for me. When Jiu Jian suggested that I come to Singapore, how could I say anything but yes?

So, I'm leaving for Singapore in 5 weeks. I'll be there for 10 days, teaching and singing. I'll try to blog at least once a week before I leave and hopefully every day when I am there. Join me on this opportunity of a lifetime!