Joining a choir

Posted: August 31, 2017 in choral, Conducting

Are you one of those people who sings when you’re pottering around the house? I am. Always was, probably because I come from a family of musicians. It never occurred to me that singing was something associated with being happy, until a relative told me off for singing to myself in the house in the aftermath of a family bereavement when I was in my early teens. I must have been a rather odd child, because til then it had never even crossed my mind that this might be considered inappropriate; singing was just something I did, without associating it with particular emotions.

There’s been such an explosion in the popularity of choirs here in Ireland over the past 5-10 years, and so many column inches devoted to the phenomenon, that it almost seems superfluous to mention the documented benefits of choir membership to our mental and physical health, with study after study showing that it reduces stress and anxiety, and actually increases life expectancy a little.  Choral singing also provides a strengthened sense of both individual and community identity, bringing together people who may differ with regard to age, ethnicity, education or cultural background. As a singer, it is your space, somewhere you go to be with others and forget about your worries for a couple of hours. As I heard Bazil Meade of London Community Gospel Choir  note at a workshop: ‘When you come to choir practise, you check your baggage at the door’. To me this suggests not that singing reflects happiness, but rather that it contributes to it; I’ve known many people join choirs precisely because they’re not happy, for reasons as simple or as complicated as bereavement, addiction, pressured home lives. Wherever you place yourself on this spectrum, there’s a choir out there for you. Even if you ‘can’t’ sing – and many people who believe this about themselves haven’t really tried, but that’s another day’s blog – you can always join an ensemble such as the Sing Along Social, or set up something like the Can’t Sing Choirs that are popular in the UK.

If you can sing, live in the Dublin area and think you might like to join a choir under my direction,  here are some options:

Sandymount Gospel Choir are having an open night for prospective new members on Tuesday September 12th, so if you’re interested in joining a fun but committed group of gospel singers, why not pop along that night and see if it’s for you?

Alternatively, if you live on what Dubliners darkly refer to as ‘the other side of the city’, you might be interested in Portmarnock Singers Open Night on Monday 11th.  The choir performs a mixed repertoire classical, sacred and popular music. Same idea, just pop along on the night and try it out, then if you think you might like to join come and chat to one of us afterwards!

If you’d rather be in the heart of the city centre, Waltons New School of Music Choir, Sing Your Heart Out, will be back from the end of September, with try-outs for new members on Sept. 28th.

 

In a final aside, there is a good reason to do it now. Most choirs – or at least those I’m involved with – take in new members in both September and January, both being times of the year when people are interested in exploring new challenges and interests. I don’t know exactly why this would be true, but for whatever reason, people who join in September are far more likely to stay on than those who join in January. Perhaps it’s easier to make a commitment to an evening rehearsal before the nights get too cold and dark, perhaps it’s simply that September doesn’t carry the ‘new year’s resolutions pressure’ of January. I honestly don’t know, but it’s consistently the case in my own experience. So if you’re interested in joining a choir, do it now. The research suggests you’ll live longer.

 

 

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