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Wishing You A Merry Christmas …

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The Autumn Leaves …

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So, you’re thinking about joining a choir …

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Joining a choir can be such a rewarding experience. Every year, more and more studies showing the health benefits of singing are released and so it’s a brilliant idea to give it a go and see the positive effects first hand.

I can, however, fully understand your hesitation and/or anxiety behind singing in a group. Their is no other musical instrument that is as personal as one’s voice. It’s not like other instruments where, as you improve, you can go and buy a better / more expensive instrument and you will instantly hear an improvement in the sound. Your voice is given to you and yes, you really can work at it to make it the best instrument possible and make you feel comfortable for others to hear it.

The first part of this is really getting you used to the sound of your voice.

As adults, when we try and learn any new skill, the only way we can truly benefit is by fully immersing ourselves in it. New runners will go and buy a new set of trainers, a subscription to Runner’s World magazine, a fancy Garmin watch to track their runs and a new iPod to keep them motivated whilst they are out in the wind and cold. Someone wanting to learn French will start going to classes or MeetUp groups, listening to French radio stations or Podcasts, reading L’Equipe and will say “Bonjour” to anyone they know who has made it south of Calais … even if it was just for a booze cruise.

So, as singers, what can we do? The answer is easy; sing all of the time!

Now, I know that this isn’t always entirely practical and you don’t want to be singing the guitar solo to Bohemian Rhapsody whilst you and your colleagues are meant to be on a conference call with the New York office. However, there are plenty of opportunities to sing on your own every day; in the shower, in the car, when you’re cleaning the kitchen, humming to yourself when you’re out with the dog and/or even doing a Beyoncé-influenced “goodbye” signoff to your best friend on the phone.

As instruments go, it’s very portable and very accessible! You haven’t got to drag around a grand piano or double bass … it’s just there … ready to go.

Once you’ve found a local, friendly choir (Google is a great place to find them!) go and sing with the thought being that this is just “part of your singing routine”. It will be very daunting to join a group of people who already know the songs, each others’ names and some musical terminology but try to think of the long term goal. Unless you are a choral veteran, it may take 5 or 6 rehearsals to make you feel comfortable in that environment.
I’m certain that, without training, no one would attempt to put on a pair of running shoes and go and run a marathon or learn “Hello, my name is xxx” in French and then try and contact François Hollande for an informal chat.

It is therefore OK that, without training, the results won’t be perfect the first time around but, let’s face it, no one is perfect! Get out there and give it a go! The longer you can keep at it, the more rewarding it will be in the end … I guarantee it!

Singing On Prescription?

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“First it was exercise on prescription, then it was arts on prescription, soon it could be singing on prescription, as the clinical evidence builds up, and as more and more projects promote the benefits of singing to health and wellbeing, both for those in generally good health and those with physical and mental health problems, or who find themselves socially excluded or isolated.”

Grenville Hancox MBE, Director of the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health based at Canterbury Christ Church University in the UK believes that we are not too far away from having your local GP say: “Go and have a sing with that lot down the road” instead of “take these pills three times a day!”

The article goes on to explain about seven therapeutic outcomes from singing in a group; Communication, Cognition, Engagement, Confidence, Relationships, Empowerment and Exercise and stress reduction.

Some of these benefits are felt by our choir members. In a recent feedback survey, the following comments were made:

“I love being part of a team and having an extended family!”
“This is the friendliest choir I have ever belonged to.”
“I can’t wait for tues evenings to have 1 and a half hours of wonderful practice and singing with such a lovely selection of songs.”
“Please make the one and a half hours go slower!!”
Read the full article here …