I thought you might like to see this article, and update that I have recently released.
The Choir Lady
Just a thought
I was a solo singer for many years and had been running workshops on freeing the voice to allow the inner sound to sing out with abandon. I love singing, so when a new community choir started locally I joined. I was looking forward to the challenge of blending my voice with many other voices and rose to the challenge but found, within that choir, I was not able to release the sound that I needed to express. I stuck with it, but it felt like a chore, and eventually I had to admit that the choir was not for me and left to seek that which would match my needs. I joined another choir but it did not lift my spirits or feel quite right. I concluded that maybe I was a solo singer after all and choirs were not my thing and so I phoned a singing teacher, who came highly recommended by a friend, and booked a one-to-one lesson for the first week in January 2010. My New Year resolution was to sing.
My new teacher was Dutch and dynamic and in her care I knew my singing voice would grow. She invited me along to her choir. I declined the invite and said that choirs were not my thing but she insisted and reassured me that her choir was different.
With trepidation, in March 2010, I ventured along to the Eastleigh Fusion Choir. The first thing that struck me was the laughter. People were actually cheerful as they were warming up to sing. Silvana, my singing teacher, greeted me with open arms and into the sea of laughter, wild abandon in song, music and friendship I willingly fell and, for the first time, found a choir that felt like home.
Who would have thought that one year on I would be invited to lead the choir when my choir leader left to return to Holland. I initially refused the invite then agreed to lead for a trial period of three months. Leading a choir was a scary challenge and my lovely choir, of which I was a soprano and was now the leader, held my novice hand whilst I made endless mistakes. They gently and with much encouragement taught me how to lead. I started attending professional courses in conducting, voice release and song leadership and therapeutic voice work but the real training was to stand in front of the choir as they supported and reassured. I am so very grateful to the choir – they are wonderful people – each and every one.
I had been leading the choir for two years and was invited to start a second choir, and the Winchester Fusion Choir was born. It grew so rapidly that we had to start a second branch of the choir. There are three choirs now and my life is full of song and music – and choirs!
I was, and still am, a therapist and recognise that my training has been a great foundation for any choir leadership role. As I stand in front of my choirs and observe my arms beat time and dance around and move effortlessly to lead others in song, my whole being rejoices and I wonder if the singers are aware that what they are witnessing is incredible, a miracle. My neck was broken in a car accident, my spinal cord traumatised, my limbs paralysed. Surgery, an incredible spinal surgeon, and absolute belief in the power of a healing presence and deep love from those who love me brought me through – my gratitude knows no bounds. I recognise every day of my life that everything came together to support my healing and I am an unusual case. I entered into paralysis and came out – it is rare – indeed my surgeon told me he has never known anyone walk away from the degree of injury I sustained. I take nothing for granted. And now, I stand in front of a choir and watch my arms move and it brings me to a place of joy beyond joy, which is felt but may not always be obvious.
Many events happen – so many funny stories bring laughter, while the sorrows of life bring tears, and through it all the choirs sing. We sing for the sheer joy of singing, we sing because singing is an uplifting experience, we sing to raise money for charity and we sing because it is a gift to get together every week with a great bunch of lovely people to just sing.
I would not be leading choirs if it were not for the generosity of spirit I have met along the way. My choirs are incredible, filled with beautiful people who are a blessing in my life. It is all about supporting each other and my husband, Liam, supports us all. To say thank you is simply not enough….but is what I need to say.
Singing is good for you. There are lots of different choirs out there who are full of good cheer and great singing. Shop around until you find the choir that lifts your spirit and makes your heart, body and soul sing.
Until the next post – sing, sing, sing.
Since writing the above, the choirs continue to bring joy and laughter into the lives of many.
Last year, a member of the choir, nominated me for a British Citizen Award for service to the Arts and for my joyful work with choirs. I received the Award at Westminster Palace on the 5th July 2018, and the choirs all got together and threw a big party to celebrate. The party was a celebration of friendship, song and laughter and good cheer. I am simply overwhelmed, delighted and amazed by the Award, which was a wonderfully uplifting experience. From trauma to the early days of singing in the choir, to the trepidation of leading the choir, to the Award and beyond. I am simply humbled, delighted and blessed. I cannot thank those who have helped me along the way enough….I love you all. The choir is a community that goes beyond singing – and is just an incredible blessing.
So, all I can say is this – Trust, there is something so incredibly amazing going on and it is greater than you or I will ever understand. Our gift is life – celebrate the gift and sing with all your heart and with wild abandon – and let your voice resound with unbridled joy and gratitude.
‘I don’t sing because I am happy, I am happy because I sing.’ William James, Philosopher and Psychologist.
Eastleigh Fusion Choir meet every Tuesday evening, 7.30pm-9.30pm at St Andrew’s Methodist Church, Blenheim Road, Eastleigh – we have a break for tea at 8.30pm
Winchester Fusion Choir meet every Friday afternoon, 1.30pm-3pm and 4pm-5.30pm, at The Salvation Army Hall, Parchment Street, Winchester – we meet for tea between choirs