On vacation?

Filed in L.A. (Sept 2006), Music, Travel, TVB (H.K.) 香港無線電視, WorkTags: , , , ,

It's been a while since I've posted any articles here, but you can be sure that I'm still here, and you can be absolutely sure that I've read every one of your comments, even if I haven't responded. And I appreciate the comments. Even if it's not obvious, your comments are important to me and provide an important source of support.

In the time I've 'been away', I've filmed a new series at TVB. The name of the series is 寫意人生 and I'll talk more about that in a later article. It was a pretty busy part, including two sessions of five nights of continuous studio filming involving nine to eleven hours of filming each night.

Strange and interesting things have happened in the least few months. Perhaps the most important event is my decision to go back to Hollywood for more training, this time for singing ;-)

From September 21 until October 15, I'll be in Hollywood, taking daily singing lessons with a teacher who I have come to know by chance. I'm nervous, apprehensive and excited all at the same time. Daily lessons will be tough. It's also difficult to know how much I'll learn during my stay there, but it's possible that I'll make a break-through in my singing technique (two break-throughs would be better) and that would make me the happiest guy alive, if only for just a short while until I begin fighting for the next break-through.

In my lifetime, I've known a few singing teachers. I had two teachers in Australia when I was small but those teachers did nothing for me. I had another teacher here in Hong Kong and she did nothing for me either. I even had a few lessons with the incredible Roman 羅文 but learned very little even though I enjoyed my time with him.

Not every teacher is right for every student and finding the right teacher for you is normally hit-and-miss. I was lucky. After having had so many not-so-helpful teachers, I finally met one who helped me a lot. 鮑老師 took me on as a student after I was introduced to her by another of her students/fans. She took me on even though she was retired. After teaching for more than 20 years, she just wanted to relax and enjoy herself, but she took me on anyway, and I learnt more from her than from any other teacher I'd had. I only had the occasional lesson with her but every lesson was full of information and techniques which required time to absorb, understand and practise and over the three years or so that I studied with her, my singing improved immensely. I'll never be able to thank her enough.

But you can't learn everything from one teacher and a few months ago, I decided it was time to take the next step and find my next teacher.

It was difficult. Finding the right teacher is a case of chance. Only one of my friends has ever had singing lessons and she wasn't enthusiastic about the teachers she knew. Historically, I feel that there are many 'self-qualified' teachers in Hong Kong who either developed their techniques themselves or became singing teachers because they themselves were successful singers. Neither qualifies these people as real teachers and I felt that it would be difficult to find what I needed here in Hong Kong.

I should emphasise though that this situation of 'self-qualified' teachers exists all over the world, ironically possibly more in Hollywood than anywhere else.

In any case, I was considering finding a new singing teacher; possibly in the U.S.A.; when out of the blue, I received a phone call. A director in Hong Kong wants to stage an English musical here next year, and he wants me to star in it!!! As far as I was concerned, that was the sign that my decision to go to the U.S.A. to study singing was the right one. If I was going to do well in the musical, my singing would need a lot of work.

I have more than a few problems with my singing. My biggest problems are that I know very few songs, that I get extremely nervous in front of an audience, and that my voice gets raspy after the second or third song.

I have been working on the first two problems by going to a local karaoke three times a week. The more I sing and rehearse the songs, the easier I'll remember them, the better I'll sing them and the more confident and comfortable I'll be in front of a crowd.

My karaoke sessions are very unusual. People often ask 'how can you sing by yourself for 2 hours?'. It's easy actually. I love singing and when I find a song that entrances me, I will sing that song four, five even eight times before moving on to the next song. I do not get bored repeating the same song over and over again although I'm sure anyone else in the room would. Some of the songs on the top of my list are 你把我灌醉, 該不該, , , 愛如潮水 and 愛如刀割. One day, I'll have enough for a concert ;-)

The karaoke sessions have also helped with the raspy problem. Singing for two hours three times a week helps to strengthen the voice but I'm also looking forward to my lessons in Hollywood where my technique will be further improved and I'll be able to sing better for longer.

Anyway, you can look forward to more updates on my blog. While in Hollywood, I will probably have lots of free time, time that I'll use to learn more about the basics of music and music theory, work on a pet proposal of mine, and write more for my blog ;-)

In the meantime, I've encoded and uploaded my guest performance in the Teresa Tang 50-year Memorial concert, held at the Cultural Centre in Hong Kong in 2003. I hope you like it, and hopefully I'll have more clips for you in the future.

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31 Responses to “On vacation?”
  1. Alan says:

    Good to hear that your are taking the opportunity well! Here I wish you the very best in Hollywood and hope everything turns up to how u expected to be. And do hook up with some celebrities if you do see them wondering in downtown!! Take care and good luck!

  2. Kozzi says:

    Wow! To take singing lessons in Hollywood! What an incredible opportunity! Best wishes to you and hope to see more blog entries on your trip to the States =]

  3. 傳說中的地通拿 says:

    拍劇真係好辛苦,記住要保重身體!

  4. James says:

    Hello there,

    I was wondering if you had an autobiography on your website. It's quite interesting to have an Australian gain a prominent role in Hong Kong as an actor.

    Thanks.

    James

  5. Em says:

    Hi and thanks for the update - it was a nice surprise to see you'd posted when I checked in today!

    Wow! Learning to sing in Hollywood sounds amazing - be sure to tell us all about it. I can quite happily sing Karaoke alone for two hours, so I know how you feel about that. I love singing, but I'm not really cut out for the stage, so you have my total respect. Hope everything runs smoothly for the musical, I'll keep an eye out for it and maybe time my next trip to Hong Kong to coincide with it!

  6. Winnie Lau says:

    Hi, you're such an interesting guy! Good luck and looking forward to seeing your english musical in the future : )

  7. Pegasus@Taichung says:

    很高興看到新文章上架

    期待你由美國發的點點滴滴呦

    (因我也開始一段悠長假期 所以location由@Taipei改成@Taichung :-P)

    PS: Taichung = 台中

  8. Eileen says:

    So glad to see your new post, thought you've abandoned this...
    among your list of songs, I love "追" the most :)
    I've finished my studies in UK, and I'm going back to HK on 28/09, I'm gonna miss england so much!

    Pegasus, enjoy Taichung! I love the whole Taiwan so much! though I haven't been to Taitung (台東).

  9. williambeyond says:

    Hey there!

    I remember watching you on television when I was still a kid (10+ years??)

    Dunno why suddenly your name comes up in my head today and I started to find my way to this blog and reading your posts??~~!!

    The songs you have listed are all cantonese, by any chance you sing english songs?? or japanese? lol

    I've migrated to Oz Syd/Canb for a while now, but still able to watch TVB series (with TVBJ) I look forward to see you in Musical~

    pls send me an email if you have time, see you around~

    William

  10. 河國榮 says:

    Alan,

    I probably wouldn't recognise most of the celebrities, and I don't go to the places that many of them go to; ie, clubs, bars, etc.

    James,

    an autobiography? I haven't even written the 'about me' page yet. an autobiography... mmm...

    Pegasus,

    I lived in Tai Chung for 3 months back in 1988 ;-) nice place to live, and great Papaya Milk 木瓜奶.

    William,

    actually, only and are Cantonese. the others are Mandarin ;-)

    I do sing English (wow!) but the songs I love to sing are probably not available in Hong Kong's karaokes.

  11. Joanne says:

    I think it's great that you're a stage in your life where you can pursue your interests =)

    I can totally relate to what you are saying about karaoke sessions - I can go for hours at a time, on my own, singing the same songs.

    Whose version of '等' is it that you sing?

    Just out of curiosity, who are some singers who you really admire, or aspire to be like?

  12. Joanne says:

    "I do sing English (wow!) but the songs I love to sing are probably not available in Hong Kong's karaokes."

    Ironically, the English songs in Aussie karaoke's are just as pathetically lacking as those in HK....

  13. Tracy Liang says:

    Hey, how are you? I've read your interview. That was excellent. I'm very impress that you can speak fluent in Cantonese. Some of my friends who are Caucasian also speak fluent Cantonese and Mandarin. I think that's amazing. Your Chinese probably is better than me! Yeah, I feel bad about that because I was born in Canton AKA Guangzhou. I've grown up there too. But ever since I moved to New York. My Chinese got impair. The funny thing is my american who helping with my Chinese!

    Anyway, I've seen many of serial TV shows from you! You're an awesome actor! keep it up! Good luck!

  14. Frankie from USA says:

    Very not bad!!!!! I myself also sing in Chinese (I’m Caucasian too)... However I never realized how weird it looks from the outside. Nothing against you because like I said I do it myself, but seeing it from the outside gives me a different perspective and a different feeling about it. That feeling is that I must learn more Cantonese HAHAHA!!! I also could also use a singing teacher. I’d probably benefit from it significantly, but none are to be found where I live. Anyway good luck in Hollywood and good luck in the musical. I’ll be sure to check it out if or when I’m in Hong Kong.

    Best wishes,

    Frankie

  15. 蝦米 says:

    完全想像唔到你會唱"你把我灌醉" 這首歌, 我第一次聽這首歌時候, 感動到哭了, 我真係好想聽到你唱這首歌, 唔知效果係點呢????
    希望你在L.A時不用睡地板啦! 因為整晚要睡地板都好辛苦, 影到上堂就唔好啦!

  16. Peggy says:

    I'm a newcomer to this blog, and just wow. It's so nice to read such geniune posts! I wish you all the best with your singing lessons and may you astound the audience with your amazing vocals in your musical!! Good Luck!!

    "Ironically, the English songs in Aussie karaoke's are just as pathetically lacking as those in HK...."

    Actually, the last time I went Karaoke (in Sydney) was to farewell one of my American exchange friends (he has never been before) and the three of us sang english songs the entire 3 hours. We were actually really impressed with the amount of english songs avaliable! I think it really depends where you go.

  17. GNAP says:

    Wow! I jes discovered ur blogsite today! Well, actually, my colleague/friend fwded ur link to some of us. This is soooo.... exciting! I'm gonna show it to my hubby tonite. We both enjoy watching you in them HK TVB series - whatever roles it is you play. Every series we watch, we'd go - "it's him again"!! HAHA, you're everywhere! You're so funny, you know. Of course, when you're bad... - you're really bad!! haha. But that's your job, right. You have to make every role you play as real as can be! Hey, no matter how busy you are - don't stop posting in this blogsite of yours. It's a journal for you, and a genuine report of what's goin on in your life for us to read. (as opposed to sometimes-inaccurate paparazzi reports, ya!) Do post more ok? I'll be visiting this site regularly!

    btw, I'm a chinese (cantonese) living in Malay land, who can't read chinese (but love singing chinese and English songs), so it appears, you're more chinese than I am. :)

  18. Jocelyn says:

    Hey,

    Good Luck with your lessons. I had a question, how do you know if the teacher is *right* for you. I'm currently taking lessons right now, prob been about 4 months I've been taking lessons with my teacher, but how can I know if the teacher is the right one for me? IS there like a sense I'm suppose to feel inside? Thanks

  19. mandy says:

    其實看了你的blog一些日子,可能因為你愛動物,所以特別留意.
    現知道你學唱歌,為自己的興趣而努力,是值得開心的.加油,喜歡看你演出,如日後參與musical,是一件新鮮又興奮的事.
    請加油^_^等待你真文章

  20. Pegasus@Taichung says:

    何生:
    Wow, 你在台中住過三個月呀!?
    拍戲還是訪友呢?
    可惜木瓜牛奶很快就會溲掉
    沒辦法拎到香港
    不然下次赴港就拎一些讓你回味回味
    不過
    倒是可以帶些太陽餅/鳳梨穌/萬益豆干
    讓你跟夫人 岳父大人共享
    (暫時不知幾時會再去香港 去之前再來提醒你囉 呵呵)

    Eileen:
    謝謝^^
    很高興知道妳喜歡台灣
    台東很美 (不過我也很多年沒去囉)
    有機會一定要去花東地區走走 (花蓮已經去過了吧?)
    我也很喜歡香港喔:)
    搬回台中的家後
    一切都好
    雖然偶爾也會想到台北的朋友及交通的便利
    (現在出門主要靠motorbike
    不是不方便
    但不太喜歡 哈哈)
    PS: 我以前也在英國讀書耶 (LSE)

  21. Phobe says:

    I think you are an amazing person. I mean I have been watching TVB for all my childhood years till now. You SURE are everywhere.

    You are also a very multicultural actor I mean I see you being a French , American, English and German but never see you acting as an Australian..... which is odd.

    I personally think TVB need to give you a very special award and let me name it.... 星輝最佳電視男配角 . TVB should also try to give you a chance to act as the main character. Its not really fair... I think anyway.

    One question, do you have any children yourself apart from the pets that you have?

    Anyway Good Luck in Hollywood and don't work too hard! ^__^

    Phobe

  22. Paul Suen says:

    Hi Gregory,

    I'm very impressed by your attitude towards your interest & career. Just want to say "Good Luck!" and hope you've a great success in your coming musical. I'm very respect your hardwork & presistency in the entertainment business in HK. Btw, I enjoy reading your article. (This is the 1st time I read it.) I'll recommend guys in HK who want to learn more english to read. May be you write more articles about the show business in HK & adapt for english learning can help you have more exposure in HK.

  23. MY says:

    Wow! I'm very happy to hear that you will be starring in an English musical next year. Hope everything goes smoothly!

    Enjoy your stay in Hollywood. I'll be looking forward to your daily (or nightly) blogging from the US!

  24. Bibi says:

    Mr. Rivers, it's great to hear from you again. You certainly got so many Hong Kong fans including me; just see from that once you update your blog content, you've got so many replies immediately. You know what, it is surprise to know those songs on your karaOK top list are Chinese, and I love to hear Gwai Lao sing Chinese songs, particularly in Mandarin. So when will show that to us?

  25. Julie says:

    Hi Gregory,

    I think your voice is gnerally very good, the range is high and you can reach very high pitch, it's just not quite.... powerful enough.

    Best of luck to your lessons.

    Jules

  26. W says:

    Hey Greg

    Wow! Looking forward to seeing your performance on stage (the English musical)!!!!

    Take care and have fun in Hollywood.

  27. Joanne says:

    "Actually, the last time I went Karaoke (in Sydney) was to farewell one of my American exchange friends (he has never been before) and the three of us sang english songs the entire 3 hours. We were actually really impressed with the amount of english songs avaliable! I think it really depends where you go."

    I have been to the majority of the ones in Sydney ;) It is true there are plenty of songs...I think my standards are just too high! I just wish they had songs that are more recent than...3 years ago? I want some Delta Goodrem!

  28. Jen says:

    Wow this is the first time I came to this blog and got quite shocked when I realised you're that guy (yes you stand out a bit; in a nice way) that I always see on tv! You sure are everywhere.
    Have fun in hollywood and just to let you know, my mum says you're very talented to be able to act and learn lines and all that in Cantonese.

  29. Helga says:

    Hi Gregory,
    I discovered this blogsite by accident when I checked something from google. I know you as an actor from TVB way back in the 90's. I remember you were in one of the "表姐你好野" movie series and also in a TVB's travel programme of China couple of years ago. That was a funny programme because I've never seen a non-Chinese took part in any travel programme b 4 . Your fluent Cantonese is the main reason TVB chose you. I also saw you in many T V series. It's always difficult to have a 外國人 who can gain a prominent role in Hong Kong as an actor. Well, I guess so far you are the only non-Chinese actor HK ppl are familiar with. Thank you for being loyal to your career in HK and TVB.

    The recent TV series I saw u on was 刑事情報科. The others 寫意人生, 突圍行動, and 賭場風雲 are not yet available here in California. Btw, I am from HK but live in USA. Though I am not in HK, I can still you all the time..........on TV. Hahahahah!!!

    I went to Sydney once in 1995. It sure was a very beautiful city. I always wanted to visit again.

    Good luck with your trainingin Hollywood. You sure could sing. Amazing........ I never know you could sing until I saw this blog.

    PS.. Your fluent Mandarin will definitely make many HK ppl shamed. Hahahahaha!!

  30. collin says:

    I love singing too.
    I have been singing for my half life. I would like to have a good singing friend for sharing. If u not mind to have a singing friend , u can reply me thought my mail.
    May be we can share the singing skill for each other too.
    good luck for ur life and happy everyday.

  31. harry says:

    I like you