補習之後就OK?——「卡啦OK訓練班」方興未艾

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1992 / 3月

文‧魏宏晉 圖‧邱瑞金


你知道嗎?在台灣,不只考大學需要補習,連唱卡啦OK都有人上補習班拜師學藝,而且還為數不少哩!


嚴聖賢是一位電腦銷售工程師,然而改變他近來生活的,不是電腦,也不是成功男人背後的那個女人,而是目前流行的一種新興行業——「卡啦OK演唱訓練班!」

歌唱不好也是罪?

嚴聖賢天生就對音樂有些冷感,七歲那年經過一次在眾人前失敗的演唱經驗打擊後,卅年來仍不敢上台唱歌。「由於唱得荒腔走板,那回我是被拉下台的」,回想起那次恐怖的經驗,他仍然心有餘悸。

然而近年來卡啦OK歌唱的盛行,社交場合便經常需要「以歌會友」,使得從事業務工作的他再也無法逃避;經過一番掙扎,他決定突破「不敢上台唱歌」的心結,報名參加了坊間「卡啦OK演唱速成班」。經過兩個星期的訓練後,他如同浴火重生的鳳凰,再也不畏懼上台,可以輕鬆在大家面前演唱,不只娛人,自己也樂在其中。

聽來像是「救世主」的神話,但是故事卻是真人實事!在台灣,不只英文、數學念不好要補習,歌唱不好也可以補習,而且開課的補習班還生意興隆得很!

位於台北市中山區的陛士公司所開設的「卡啦OK演唱速成班」,就是時下所流行「卡啦OK補習班」的典型。

全民運動

陛士的學生階層包含甚廣,彼此間的學習動機也不一致。有為社交需求而來的公司主管;有為訓練膽量來的上班族;有來打發時間的富家太太;也有要參加歌唱比賽的明日之星……。他們的目的倒都是一樣的——將卡啦OK唱好!雖然因採一對一教學,使得每小時收費高達新台幣一千元,但學員還是絡繹不絕,每天從早到晚都有人上課。

而台北基督教女青年會、味全文教基金會等機構所開辦的卡啦OK班,由於收費便宜,採取大、中班制教學,吸引的人就更多了,「一期有九個班,學員約兩百餘人。」女青年會幹事陳美紋說。

這樣廣大的市場需求,來自台灣特有的KTV文化。這幾年KTV成為休閒文化的主流,滿街林立的KTV歌唱中心,便是交際應酬的主要場所。談生意——上KTV!生日慶生——上KTV!消愁解悶——當然更要上KTV!就連達官顯貴也不能免俗地要學上幾首「招牌歌」,以應不時之需。內政部部長吳伯雄的「其實你不懂我的心」、台灣省政府主席連戰的「乾一杯」、經濟部部長蕭萬長的「月夜愁」等,都曾令聞者動容不已,甚而暗暗萌發「大丈夫當如此也」、「有為者亦若是」之志。

KTV(卡啦OK加MTV)已然成為「全民運動」,不能上台唱幾首的人,用一句年輕人常用的話形容就是——太遜了」。

找到自己的音階

「卡啦OK演唱訓練班」便是在這一兩年間隨KTV風行而興起的。有人說是從中南部開始流行;有人則認為它只是以往的歌唱訓練班的變形,有人甚至指出這根本就是KTV業者為了生意競爭耍的噱頭……,多種說法莫衷一是,不過可以確定的是這個市場前景非常看好,有家知名的報社在近期內就有跟進開班的計畫。

卡啦OK補習班究竟有何玄機,能「化腐朽為神奇」,並如此受到市場歡迎?

通常一般卡啦OK訓練班並非以正統音樂教學方式上課,他們多半直接教學生唱歌,教會一首算一首。陛士便將數千首中外歌曲依場合需要、歌曲意境,個人的個性,音域、職業……等多項標準分類,個別學員選出十首左右的歌曲教唱,像政治聚會場合,「黃昏的故鄉」、「愛拚才會贏」經常是要被引用的歌曲,政界人士當然最好要會唱;而如果自己聲音不夠高亢,當然不好選唱張清芳的「激情過後」,唱音階較低的老歌「往事只能回味」可能較合適;再如想對女友訴說衷情,選唱一首「舞女」,不僅文不對題,甚至可能討來一頓「好打」……。「依這些標準把歌曲選好,再全心去練熟,大概就可以應付所有相關場合了」,陛士公司負責人馮永村說。

味全文教基金會的卡啦OK班也是以歌曲教唱方式教學,不過由於該會多聘請為專業音樂老師,因此上課時也常加入識譜,與粗淺樂理的內容,讓學生更能深入音樂的歡樂世界。

老闆與員工同樂

「卡啦OK演唱訓練班」開始受到注意始於民國七十九年。哈佛企管顧問公司於該年年中舉辦了一期「經理人卡啦OK訓練班」,參加的學員不乏工商界知名人士,而大家在結訓後,多認為這樣的活動很有意思,希望能多多舉辦,於是中華民國中小企業協會接著舉辦了「董事長卡啦OK訓練班」,得到了更大的迴響,像美吾髮公司總經理李成家、西陵電子公司總經理吳思鍾等企業負責人都曾在這些訓練班上過課,並且感到受益良多。

像李成家從訓練班結業後,覺得自己和員工有了更好的相處與互動,「因為唱得要比說的好聽。」他表示,以前由於唱不好,所以不敢上台,失去許多與員工同樂、親近溝通的機會,「成天板著臉孔的老闆,是會影響員工士氣的」,他笑著指出。

不同於企業界人士著眼於社交的需求,有些人則只是單純地為了調劑生活,而去參加卡啦OK班。參加女青年會「卡啦OK歌謠演唱班」的范正江、林月觀、蘇仙查等人就是如此。

卡啦OK可治病

先生是公務員的范正江三個孩子都已經長大成人,平常先生、孩子都在外面忙,自己一個人在家媢磞b悶得慌;長得福福泰泰的她,這些年心臟又有些不好,在醫生的勸告下,她決定以歌唱的方法來養身與調劑。「醫生說唱歌調氣對心臟不好很有幫助」,她表示在參加兩年多的卡啦OK班後,身體果然覺得好很多。除了身體好起來之外,她還有其他意外的收穫,如與先生外出應酬,遇到部分需要唱歌的場合,自己可以輕鬆應付,「這樣才不至於被認為是沒用的黃臉婆」,她打趣地說。

六十二歲的林月觀說得更妙:「年紀大了要常唱唱歌才不會得『痴呆症』。」以前她還玩玩股票,現在則完全「專心唱歌」了。

而現年七十一歲,已經從實踐家專退休的蘇仙查老師更道出這群平均年紀六十歲的「老學生」的心聲:「為了好過日子,多交些朋友,是大家來這裡的最重要目的。」在這兒常看到一群太太們呼朋引伴地來來往往,好不熱鬧。

有別於「經理人卡啦OK訓練班」的交際目的以及女青年會卡啦OK班的休閒功能,一般業者則強調以能訓練出「台風穩健,歌聲怡人」的學生為號召。馮永村表示,以他們「專業化」、「一對一」的教學方式,保證學成後,上台會有「令人滿意的表現」。

國泰人壽公司業務部高級主管林世陽便現身說法指出,經過卡啦OK班的訓練,原本與麥克風無緣的他現在已經儼然成為箇中好手,「可以進入群眾,與大家同樂」,他頗為得意地說,新台幣一萬多元的學費值回票價,他甚至有意要太太一起來學呢!

年輕四十歲

愛唱歌是人類的天性,雖然有人批評台灣的KTV文化低俗,更有人大罵連唱卡啦OK都要補習未免走火入魔,然而對大部分愛好歌唱的人而言,能夠在台上把一首歌唱好,在博得掌聲那一剎那的喜悅,所有為它付出的金錢與時間代價都是值得的。

星期三上午正是女青年會「卡啦OK日語歌謠班」的上課時間,老師葉彩瓊正賣力地教導台下卅多位、平均年齡五十多歲的媽媽和祖母們唱歌。葉老師臉上掛著燦爛的笑,手勢誇張地舞動指揮著拍子,學生們受了她的感染,每個人的心都溫熱了起來,大家都十分專注地唱著,教室埵陬菑Q六歲歡樂的空氣與心情。

〔圖片說明〕

P.38

參加卡啦OK補習班,除了練歌藝,還可以交朋友。

P.41

卡啦OK已成為台灣社會的「全民運動」,政府官員如內政部長吳伯雄(右)也常愛來一首自娛娛人。

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近期文章

EN

Cramming for karaoke

Wei Hung-chin /photos courtesy of Diago Chiu /tr. by Phil Newell

Do you know that in Taiwan not only is it necessary to go to "cram school" to prepare for the college entrance examinations, but some people even go to supplementary classes asking the teacher to instruct them in karaoke? And the number is far from small!


Yen Sheng-hsien is a computer sales engineer. His life has recently been changed not, however, by computers, nor even by that woman behind every successful man, but rather by a currently popular newly rising industry, "karaoke supplementary school!"

Is It a Crime to Sing Badly? Yen Sheng-hsien is by nature not very musical. After an experience failing in singing before a crowd at the age of seven, he has not dared to get up on stage for the last thirty years. "Because I sang so badly, I was pulled right off the stage that time," he says, still slightly tremulously, recalling that terrifying experience.

However, in recent years karaoke has become tremendously popular. It is thus often necessary to "win friends over with song" at social occasions, and someone like him in the service industry especially can't avoid it. After some internal struggle, he decided to break through his unwillingness to get back "on the stage," and he signed up for a "Karaoke Singing Accelerated Class." After two weeks of training, he could calmly sing in front of everyone, not only entertaining others, but making himself happy in the process.

This may sound a bit like a myth, but the story is true. In Taiwan, you not only have to go to supplementary school if you didn't do well in English or math, you also have to bone up if you can't sing well. And the supplementary schools which offer this class are doing booming business!

The "karaoke singing accelerated class" begun by the Pi Shih Company in the Chungshan district of Taipei is the classic example of the trend of popularity of "karaoke supplementary school."

Everybody Join In!: The backgrounds of the students at Pi Shih are very broad, and the motives for attending are far from uniform. There is a company executive who needs to socialize; there are office workers and yuppies who have come to build up their courage and self-esteem; there are wealthy housewives coming to kill some time; and there are wannabe stars of tomorrow who plan to enter singing competitions. But their motives have one thing in common-to-sing karaoke well! Although tuition is as high as NT$1000 per hour if you choose one-on-one classes, the students just keep on coming, and there are people taking class all day every day.

Moreover, the classes like those started up by institutions like the Young Women's Christian Association or the Wei-Chuan Cultural Educational Foundation have adopted medium and large size classes because tuition is relatively low, so they have attracted even more people. "In one term we have nine classes, with two hundred-plus students," explains Kissy Chen, a staffer at the YWCA.

Market demand this broad is a product of Taiwan's KTV culture. In the past few years KTV has become the mainstream of popular leisure culture, and the streets are lined with KTV centers, and they are the main locales for get-togethers and drinking parties. Want to talk business? Go to KTV. A birthday party? Go to KTV! Want to lose your worries? Of course--go to KTV! Even high-brow types can't be caught without learning a few of the more popular tunes in order to meet the occasional need. Taiwan Province Governor Lien Chan's "Drink a Glass," and Minister of Economic Affairs Hsiao Wan-chang's "Thoughts on a Moonlit Eve" have all moved the people who have heard of them.

KTV (karaoke plus video) has already become a "national pastime." Anyone who can't at least get up and belt out a few numbers is, to use an expression popular among young people, "out of it."

Finding Your Own Singing Range: Karaoke singing training classes have risen in the wake of the flourishing of KTV these past two years. Some say they have spread from the south and center of Taiwan, some see them as just the singing classes that have always existed in a new guise. Some go so far as to claim they are nothing but a promotional gimmick pushed by KTV operators trying to compete. The various theories have little in common, but one thing you can be sure of is that the market looks very promising. One well-known newspaper publisher has recently made a plan to enter the fray and start a class.

What mysterious spells are weaved in a karaoke class that can give eyesight to the musically blind, and thus find such popularity in the marketplace?

Usually, the ordinary karaoke class does not use orthodox music instruction methods. They mostly teach the students to sing right off the bat, mastering one song at a time. Pi Shih has thousands of Chinese and foreign songs divided up into categories according to the occasions for which they might be needed, the sentiment of the song, individual personalities, range, profession, and so on. Each individual student selects ten or so tunes to be taught. For example, at political gatherings, songs like "The Old Hometown at Dusk" or "You Can Only Win If You Love to Suffer" are frequently selected--naturally it is best for politicians if they can croon. Or if your voice is not high enough, of course it would be a mistake to choose Chang Ching-fang's "After the Passion is Past," while some of the older tunes in a lower range might be more appropriate. Or if you want to woo your girlfriend, if you choose "Taxi Dancer," not only won't the words fit the theme, you might even get yourself a knock on the head. "If you choose correctly according to these guidelines, and devote yourself to practicing them until you get them right, then you can probably cope with any relevant occasion," says Pi Shih Director Feng Yung-tsun.

The karaoke class at the Wei Chuan Cultural Educational Foundation also teaches with the song by song instruction method, but because the foundation hires specialized music teachers, they often get into sheet music or scratch the surface of music theory in class, bringing students even deeper into the joyous world of music.

A Class to Transcend Class: Karaoke singing training classes began to get attention in 1990. In the middle of that year the Harvard Management Consulting Company held a one semester "Management Karaoke Training Seminar." The students in the class included well-known figures from the business world, and they all felt after completing the training that this sort of activity was quite entertaining, and expressed the desire to hold more. Consequently the Republic of China Small and Medium Entrepreneurs Association followed up with its "Chairman of the Board Karaoke Training Seminar," getting an even stronger response. Industrial leaders like Li Cheng-chia, general manager of Mei Wu Fa Enterprises, and Richard Wu, general manager of Kingtel Telecommunication Corp., took the class and came out with the feeling that they gained a lot.

Take the case of Li Cheng-chia: After completing the training, he felt that there was even greater interaction and relations between himself and his employees "because it sounds better if you sing it than if you say it." He says that in the past, because he did not sing well, he dared not get up on the stage, and missed a lot of opportunities to share entertainment with and grow closer to his employees. "A boss who just sits there stone-faced all day will affect the morale of the employees," he points out with a laugh.

Unlike the entrepreneurs who are most concerned about the requirements of socializing, some people simply want to add some spice to their lives, so they attend the karaoke class. Fan Cheng-chiang, Lin Yue-kuan, Su Hsien-cha, and others who go to karaoke class at the YWCA are this way.

Karaoke Can Cure Illness: Fan Cheng-chiang's husband is a civil servant and her three children are all grown. Usually her husband and children are out doing things, and it was really depressing being alone in the house. Lately she's been having trouble with her heart, and, under her doctor's advice, she decided to exercise her body and get some stimulation through singing. "The doctor says that singing to bring a change of mood is good for heart problems," she explains. After participating in karaoke classes for two years, she felt, as expected, much improved. And besides better health, she has had other incidental benefits, such as being able to easily deal with those times when it is necessary to sing when accompanying her husband to job-related "social" gatherings. "This way I'm not treated like just a decorative wife," she says intriguingly.

Says 62-year-old Lin Yue-kuan delicately: "If you sing often when you're older, you won't become senile." In the past, she often played the stock maket, but now she "concentrates on singing."

Now 71, retired teacher Su Hsien-cha expresses even more fully the sentiments of this group of "old students," whose average age is 61: "The main purpose of everybody in coming here is to live more happily and make a few new friends." You can often see a group of ladies coming and going with their friends, having a grand old time.

As opposed to the socializing goals of the "executive class" karaoke instruction or the recreational function of the YWCA karaoke class, most karaoke classes stress recruitment of students who seem capable of learning to "be in control in style, and to sing pleasingly." Feng Yung-tsun stresses that, using their "specialized," "one-on-one" instructional method, after completing study it is guaranteed that the person will "perform to expectations" when getting up to sing. Lin Shih-yang, a high-ranking manager in the sales department of the Cathay Insurance Company, points out from his own experience that in the past, when he came across occasions to get together with coworkers, he would feel out of place and uncomfortable when he saw coworkers getting up to sing one after the other while he just set offstage. After going through karaoke training, he is now suddenly a fair-to-middling singer, and can "get in with the crowd and have fun with everybody," he says rather contentedly. He has gotten his money's worth out of the NT$10,000-plus tuition fee, and he even wants to bring his wife along to learn, too!

A Young Forty: It's a natural human instinct to love singing. Although some criticize Taiwan's KTV culture as being vulgar, and there are even more people who loudly complain that you have to go to supplementary school even for karaoke, for the vast majority of those who love to sing, whatever the cost in time and money, it's worth it for that moment of joy of singing a song well, and soaking up the sounds of applause.

Wednesday morning is when the YWCA "Japanese Language Karaoke Class" meets. Instructor Yeh Tsai-chiung is right in the middle of giving her all to teach the thirty or so mothers and grandmothers--average age over 50--to sing. Teacher Yeh's face is covered with a bright smile, and she waves the baton with exaggerated gestures. The students are infected by her enthusiasm, and everyone gets drawn into it; they are all concentrating on their singing, and the classroom is filled with the feeling of being sixteen all over again.

[Picture Caption]

Besides learning the fine points of singing, you can also make new friends in karaoke class.

Karaoke has become a "national pastime" in Taiwan, and even government officials like Minister of the Interior Wu Po-hsiung (right) often enjoy getting in on the act.

 

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