I admit I usually post pretty random photographs, mostly unrelated to whatever I am going on about; this time however I was mid-flight from Geneva to Madrid, en route to a concert, when I looked down at the tray in front of me and thought, oh that could only belong to a singer travelling to a gig. That made me giggle, so I thought I'd bung up a photo and write about it.
Firstly, of course, there's the sheet music. Before a gig, I'll often use the time in transit to check and re-check everything I have learned. Silently, of course (an aeroplane is really not an appropriate place for vocalising!). The pencil is there in case I notice anything slightly awry and need to make a note.
On the left there is a little rectangular thingumajig. That's my MP3 player. It's a marvellous bit of kit, even if it freaked me out when I first got it by rummaging around in my computer and grabbing not only all the recordings, but also all the photos it could find (I didn't know until I was looking for something else that it was even interested in photos!). Saved in a folder are the recordings of my coachings of the songs / roles I will be performing, and (if needed), me on my own bashing out the odd harmonic change or notes to listen out for, singing the phrases, and counting out loud where the timing is trickiest. Plugged into this are noise-reducing headphones. Normal earbuds really don't seem to work for me (they are hellishly uncomfortable in my ear canals) although they would of course take up less room. I was VERY glad of the noise-reducing capabilities of these little darlings when waiting at Geneva for my ongoing flight - I'd naively thought I could find a nice quiet area to study in - NOOOO!! For those who might be considering a similar thing, be warned that Geneva airport is plagued by tinny Musak. Even in the Meditation Room I could hear it twanging away (although it was nice to see a Christian and a Muslim praying separately but in the same space). Noise-cancelling headphones came in bloody useful, even though they're a little uncomfortable (I sort of inherited them from my father's Collection of Exciting Gadgets, but the foam padding on the ear bits had rotted. I keep meaning to bodge something together with the feet of defunct stockings or something, but it's been summer so I haven't been wearing stockings... I shall have to try and remember, now that it's turned so definitively to autumn). (Oh, and that's not just meanness; I tried to buy new foam coverings but was told that because each headset is different, they don't make all-purpose replacements....!!).
Next along is a slightly odd-looking device; a mask made of soft, transparent plastic, which fits over my nose and mouth and leaves me with interesting but short-term weals across my cheekbones from the elastic. It's not really necessary on short hops, but since using it, my incidence of getting miserable colds approximately two days after each flight has decreased dramatically. All it does is recycle your own moist breath so that the sensitive tissues of your nose, mouth and throat don't dry out - and I FEEL the oxygen and moisture being leached from the air as the aeroplane starts up! - not rocket science, but it really works. For long-haul flights I would say it's a must for singers (unless you're one of those irritating cast-iron singers who never gets ill!). Pretty cheap too. It's called a Humidiflyer. If you want one, the link is here. Yes, it ships from Australia, but the customer service was, in my experience, wonderful.
Half-eaten sandwich - um, wonderful! You get served up some pretty weird stuff on some of these short-haul flights (return Madrid to Zurich was a small tub of caramel ice-cream...). I had a home-made ham baguette stuffed into my hand luggage just in case - well, I was due to spend a few hours in a Swiss airport. Switzerland is many lovely things but cheap isn't one of them.
Finally, a glass of water - of course, as a singer, you need to keep hydrated. I have a nifty flat-packable plastic water bottle which clips onto my handbag or hand luggage. Nowadays you can't take your own huge bottle of water through to the plane - fair enough, given the threat of terrorism, but the prices most airports charge for a bit of water are EXTORTIONATE, so I prefer to take my chances with filling my own bottle from the taps in the airport. Haven't succumbed to any odd diseases from doing this yet.
What? Ahem, yes, well the wine was slightly accidental. I mean, what's a girl to do when they have run out of tomato juice (my usual drink of choice when flying, complete with accompaniments if available; I read somewhere that your tastebuds are compromised by being so far above the earth; this would of course explain the tastelessness of airline food the world over). I am pleased to report that I reacted gracefully to this setback and enjoyed the wine a lot!
Safe travels everyone!