All over the UK people are uniting and making new friends from different walks of life. They are breaking down barriers and standing shoulder to shoulder. How and why are they doing this? They are joining choirs!
Choirs come in all sorts of styles from classical and choral to showtunes and rock music. I guarantee there is one round the corner from you. I urge you to give them a call and go along to a session. I promise if you find the right one for you that you won't look back.
I love directing choirs. I love seeing the singers enjoy themselves and being moved by the sound they are creating. The enthusiasm a choir director has for their job is infectious and can sweep a whole room of people along on their ride. Keeping the atmosphere fun and flowing can create for some excellent sessions not to mention some glorious harmonies!
Joining a choir isn't just fun; it's actually good for you! At it's most basic level it is good for keeping your brain active. Counting! You have to keep count or at least be able to concentrate and watch your director for the beats and when to come in, when to get softer and when to get louder. It's great for your memory too! All those words and harmonies can seem daunting at first but with regular attendance they soon become second nature. Harmonies become muscle memory and words are just there waiting to pass your lips. Your director will always give you little pointers to help you during a song so you can relax and let the music flow.
Not only does your brain benefit from all that concentration practice your mental health and well-being are boosted too. Music has the power to break down barriers and join a group of people as one entity. No matter how much you love your work and your family we all need time to relax. Some relax by laying in the bath or going for a stroll others go down to their local village or church hall and stand and sing their troubles away! I agree with the quote "Music is what feelings sound like". It's cheap therapy!
People that I meet often say "aren't choirs full of old ladies and church goers?" They have a vision of a room full of blue rinses holding hymn books and singing choral numbers from the 1800s. Well I'm yet to meet such a choir. I'm always faced with an eclectic bunch of human beings; a wonderful array of different sizes, shapes, ethnicities, ages and abilities. Yes there are old ladies and there are church goers but there are also punk rockers, young adults, nurses, firemen, teachers, artists and secretaries!
Singing releases oxytocin (that chemical that manages stress and anxiety) and singing in a group increases trust and bonding. Singing with and directing choirs has seen me through losses of people in my life, stressful times workwise, financial problems and general down days. I wonder whether some musicians are aware that by singing their songs I evoke the feelings I felt when loosing my friend or on the other extreme the feeling I felt when I first locked eyes with my son. Music takes you to places that you can't explain. The answer to how it does this in my opinion lies within harmony. All the different sounds created by the different voices come together and combine to light up the choir and create a mass; to quote a fellow choir director "wall of sound". I read somewhere that the singer's heartbeats in a choir become synchronized! That's amazing!
If you are looking for something new to try and feel like lifting your spirits then go on and find a choir. It's the perfect drug and completely legal and risk free!