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:
I then took these lyrics to www.Pin1yin1.com 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:
shēn biān rén yǐng zuǒ yòu tùi jìn
suǒ yǒu shēng yīn jiàn jiàn tíng xī
tiān dì zhī dà wǒ de yǎn móu zhōng zhǐ yǒu tā
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!