In 2008 my husband (to-be at that time) and I moved to a town in West Yorkshire called Ossett. We were both civil engineers working in the area and it made sense to settle there. Growing up I played the piano, I learnt at 4, peaked early, and played a lot for school at concerts and accompanying the choir. But what I really wanted to do, but never told anyone, or did anything about it, was sing.
Feeling motivated and ready for a challenge in January 2009, I decided I was going to see if I could join a choir. I turned up to a rehearsal at the Yorkshire Philharmonic Choir, loved it, thankfully passed my audition a few weeks later (a harrowing experience, to say the least, given I wasn’t sure if I ‘could actually sing’) and I still sing with them today, almost ten years on.
Having joined a choir, when people asked me what I did out of work I obviously told them about the choir and eventually, more often than not, the conversations would get onto the enquirers’ ability, or lack thereof, to sing. And I noticed that the majority of people I spoke to thought they, in fact, could not sing. At first this didn’t really strike me as odd, I grew up with my mum telling everyone that she couldn’t sing, and I quite enjoyed being a part of an ‘elite’ crowd, something you had to be ‘good enough’ to get into.
But then I noticed that people said that they enjoyed singing, but couldn’t sing, or they wished they could sing, or they sang in the shower when no one could hear. And eventually I realised that it was a great shame, that all these people were missing out on the amazing experience I was having being a choir member, just because they ‘couldn’t sing’.
I’ve posted before about singing making you feel good - singing releases endorphins and dopamine and there is a great social aspect to singing in a choir too. So why should so many people miss out on all this?
I stopped working to have my family, but for a number of years, I had a nagging voice in my head telling me I should start a pop choir. Once I’d had my youngest, Oliver who is now 15 months old, and got over the newborn sleep deprivation stage, I decided it was time. Fanfare Music (obviously a play on my name, but also a suggestion that we should all blow our own trumpets from time to time) was born. I advertised on social media, mostly Facebook, and the Local Vocals choir came into being.
Now I have a choir with many members who still say they can’t sing, but they do sing, and we’ve given 5 performances already (in only 8 months), with plenty more in the pipeline.
I have beginner piano students who I am nurturing to become more confident musicians, some of whom recently performed at a concert, both surprising and excelling themselves.
I have recently taken the post as Musical Director of a seniors’ choir, helping our older generation find their singing voices, again with many members who tell me they can’t sing.
I post a lot on Facebook with tips and ideas for sharing music with our families. I have my blog where I talk about anything musical which tickles my fancy. And I have a little ukulele business - affordable, colourful, beginners’ ukuleles which people can buy for children or friends or just to try out the uke without spending a fortune.
It’s all about bringing more music to more people because music makes us feel good.