Joining a choir is good for the heart and soul

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft M

Members of the Lowestoft Choral Society singing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra at Lowestoft Marina Theatre. in 2006. Picture: Archant library. - Credit: Archant © 2006

I love new experiences and taking up new challenges.

The only trouble is that I have really enjoyed everything I have tried so far and end up adding more to my ever-increasing list of pursuits.

My latest venture has really got me teetering on the edge of my comfort zone - I have joined a choir.

I tend to sing around the house, periodically throughout the day. My repertoire is vast, from decades of pop songs, hymns, classical and even some rather odd ditties handed down through the ages from my dear mum, who pretended to be quite prim but had a selection of risqué pieces that were full of double entendre.

From embarrassing my children when they were young, (Mum! We can hear you singing outside!) to serenading my neighbours,(especially in summer when doors are open,) I have sung through them all, often interspersing my own words and backing too.

However, even though I am always up for a challenge, when a friend asked me to join the recently formed local choir, it took me days of consideration. Could I be brave enough to step outside my comfort zone?

Initially, (and quite a relevant point,) I didn't know if I could sing; I tended to change key halfway through a song, I made up the words sometimes and I had no idea if I was a soprano, alto or anything else.

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Eventually deciding to try it, I went along with trepidation, and yes, even a little fear.

Although unsure, I joined the soprano section, (mainly because I knew a couple of people already in it!) and took it from there. As it turned out, it was the correct choice (I think) because the sopranos usually get to sing the tune of the song, so I didn't have the added worry of learning descants and such.

I would like to say I loved every minute of that first session but I felt so unsure and unconfident and was terrified I was singing flat and putting everyone else off.

I thought I would see it through until the first 'gig,' a performance in the village hall, only a few weeks ahead, accompanied by a brass band; then I could say I had, at least, achieved that.

(Personally, I was a little glad to hear about the brass band because I thought that if I were a tad off-key, then at least they would drown me out with their music.)

We practiced hard under the excellent guidance of our choirmaster and as the weeks went by, I found myself enjoying it.

Concert day arrived and as we took our places on stage, I was aghast to see so many of my neighbours in the audience and many doubts crept in, as to my prowess as a singer.

To add to this, I had just learned that the lady next to me had sung in concerts before, in such venues as The Royal Albert Hall, (no pressure here then!).

The only morsel of confidence that I was trying to build on, quite rapidly, ebbed away.

However, the concert was a great success and we received much positive feedback.

Since I haven't been 'expelled' yet for singing out of tune, I have enrolled for a second term with several gigs on the calendar, and I would urge anyone who has ever held back from joining a singing group to give it a try.

Choirs bring people together and can be uplifting both to singer and listener.

Someone once said, 'Singing in a choir is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking and more fun than working out.'

I can certainly vouch for that.