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 BBC Wales interview with Gari Glaysher

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Number of posts : 26
Location : UK
Registration date : 2007-05-15

PostSubject: BBC Wales interview with Gari Glaysher   Mon Jul 21, 2008 11:40 am

BBC Wales interview with Gari Glaysher


"If you're honest with yourself and work hard, there isn't anything you can't do," says the opera singer, boxer and Tai Kwon Do expert.

Raise Your Game: Can you start off by telling us a bit about your sporting background?

Gari Glaysher: I played football like most boys. I joined my first team when I was 11, and I started boxing at the same time.

RYG: What have you learnt from sport?

GG: Once I started Tai Kwon Do and became an instructor, I realised that sport directs you on the right path and keeps you out of trouble. It gave me a lot of confidence and taught me a lot of self discipline that still serves me well today.

A lot of what I learnt through sport has stood me in good stead for where I'm at with music. I started late in opera and because of that I had a lot to learn in a short space of time. I was able to focus and apply myself, and I put that down to my sporting background.

RYG: How did you go about making the transition from national Tai Kwon Do champion to world class opera singer?

Gari Glaysher

Opera singer

Tai Kwon Do and boxing


Sung at the Royal Albert Hall and the Royal Opera House.
Black belt in Tai Kwon Do.

GG: I was still doing Tai Kwon Do, right up until the day I had to decide 'This is it.' Then there wasn't time for anything else. I went to see a voice coach because I was singing in a full-time working band. That coach said to me 'You have a natural spinto tenor voice, you should be using that in the opera field.'

Overnight I decided that was where I wanted to go. I knew that was where I was meant to be going. I've used sport to channel a lot of my energy and frustration throughout my life, but it wasn't necessarily the right conduit for that. Where I am in music today definitely is.

RYG: Have any of the skills that you've gained through your sporting career helped you with your career in opera?

GG: Massively. The main thing I've taken from sport into music is how to control my nerves. As a musician I get nervous every time I go out there, especially when I'm standing in the wings. I had a boxing coach when I was younger. Before my very first fight he asked me if I was nervous. I said 'Yes.' He said 'That feeling of nerves, it's just energy, it's just your adrenaline. You have to be positive with it and say to yourself, this is all on my side. If you don't you'll go in there and you'll get beaten.'

I still have that philosophy to this day. When the nerves are going and I've got butterflies in my stomach, I say to myself 'This is all positive, this is all for me, so use it in a positive way.' If I don't, I'm not going to sing well. In the same way that I used to step in the ring and say 'If I don't put this to good use, he's going to smack me on the nose and I won't be able to do a lot about it.' That's exactly what I say to myself today, every time I go on.

RYG: What does it take to be a world class opera singer?

GG: If you talk to most opera singers, they'll say opera singing and sports are very closely related. For one you have to be an athlete. You're using muscles in your body. You need to train and work them every day, in the same way that a runner or a boxer gets up every day to do their road work. If you don't do that you're not going to be 100% when you get in the ring.

If you don't vocalise, train and study every day, you're not going to go out on stage feeling 100%. When you've done a show and you come off, you feel as if you've just come out of the ring. You're shattered. When all the adrenaline's gone, you feel as if you've just done six rounds.

RYG: What sort of training do you have to do as a professional opera singer?

GG: I've always maintained flexibility through stretching. I swim and I run when I can. Having been a boxer, running's not my favourite thing. I've probably run round the planet three times (laughs).

I've just started yoga. Now I've got time to do a bit more physical work, I find yoga's one of the best exercises I've done. The form that I do is very physical. It works on flexibility and strength. It also focuses on the breathing side of things, which helps me with my singing.

RYG: What have been the highlights of your sporting and singing careers?

GG: The highlight of my sporting career was getting my black belt in Tai Kwon Do. I wasted an education, so I came out of school with nothing. I got my black belt in the quickest time that anybody had ever done it in England. That was the first time I had ever been proud of myself, without wanting to sound arrogant in any way. Within six months I'd made it into the England squad to fight at the World Championships.

With singing, the biggest thing was actually my first professional gig. I was performing Tosca for a provincial company that toured around England playing at provincial theatres. I've done bigger things since but nothing will ever better the very first time I got a professional gig.

RYG: And the lowlights?

GG: With regards to sport, I've got to say, I'm a bad loser. I've got two girls and I'm a bit of a hypocrite because I have to tell them not to be bad losers. Anytime I have lost, whether it's a football or boxing match, or a Tai Kwon Do fight, they would all be low moments. Sport's been such a great gift in my life, that I haven't really had too many lows. The only ones I can think of would be when I've lost.

Within my singing career, the only lows I've had have been when my health hasn't been good. Once I had a chest infection so I couldn't sing. I couldn't even vocalise for a couple of days. That was a very low moment for me, because singing is what I love to do.

RYG: What advice would you give to youngsters looking to raise their game?

GG: Something's only worth going into if you give every bit of yourself to it. If you're honest with yourself and work hard, there isn't anything you can't do.

interview by Colin Jackson
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