Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Singing

Now Wednesdays are currently a bit sad for me. Because usually on Wednesdays I sing in an acapella group. And at the moment church hall chairs are my nemesis.

My best friend and I decided some time ago that it was time to explore the world of song. It had been a while for both of us. About twenty years.

We started with a bang by trying a massive, female dominated, matching t-shirt wearing choir. Did you know that singing makes you happy? The women who went were very happy. I was less so.

I don't think I have ever felt so out of my depth. Firstly we were singing "Proud" by M-People. Secondly we had turned up on the last week of term (they had been learning it for weeks) and we had no clue what was going on.

The woman running it was incredible. A musical marvel switching between keyboard playing and singing different parts like a demon. We muddled through but it was beyond hard. Eventually it felt like it were coming to an end. Just as we were about to breathe a sigh of relief we were instructed to incorporate...the actions. I was only hanging onto the "ooo"s and "aaaah"s by a thread at this point. Turning sideways and raising my arms did nothing to help things along.

As if this wasn't toe curling enough the newbies were then asked to stand at the front so we could be performed to. I have never felt so self conscious in all my life. What is the correct way to stand when watching about 150 people perform "Proud" complete with side turns and arm waving? Do you clap at the end? They certainly deserved clapping, it was astonishing. So we did. There were three of us. It was awkward.

We were determined to find the choir for us and moved on.

Our next try was Jacapella - an acapella singing group in Nether Edge.

We arrived and quickly began chatting to another new girl, regaling her with our tale from the previous week. She told us things could have been worse and that she had tried a choir where the members had no tune to sing to and just expressed themselves by making whatever noise they fancied. Think barks and squeaks. I'm still confused even now and I've seen them on You Tube.

It was with some trepidation that we wondered what was Jacqui going to throw at us? Well there is no barking or quacking. No choreographed moves or matching t-shirts. I had a brief moment of concern the first time we did a warm up exercise (and even now can't quite get used to the shimmying), but the group could not be further removed from what we'd experienced the previous week.

It's acapella. No accompaniment, no music to read from, just the lovely Jacqui who is mind bogglingly brilliant at switching between parts while teaching and exudes enthusiasm and positivity. She would probably describe it as a singing workshop rather than a choir.

On the first week I worried I couldn't do it. I tried to close my ears when the other parts were being worked on as I desperately tried to fix my part in my head. But now it's opened up an area of my brain that was long since covered in dust. Some of the songs are fairly straightforward. Some are a challenge. All of it leaves me with a sense of achievement.

People always ask me what we sing and it's only occasionally things you'd have heard of like "Moon River." More often it's songs from around the world. Or amusing songs with great tunes. And there was one from Scotland about a half woman half seal...but I'd rather have that than M-People or John Farnham any day.

And who goes? Mostly women at the moment, although men are very welcome. We are different ages and backgrounds. I overheard one of the ladies say it was nice that some young people now came. I don't think she can have meant me.

Some can sing high. I can't. All of us like a laugh and chocolate biscuits. I can't rate it highly enough and now missing my third week I am genuinely quite sad.

So choirs in Sheffield are nothing if not eclectic. Look on Sheffield Help Yourself and you will find over 55 listed, and they are all different in one way or another. With my love of journey books I toyed briefly with the idea of trying out every one and writing a book about it. I still think it has legs. But since I've found my singing destination the idea is shelved for now.

Once I'm off this flaming sofa I will be back at Jacapella singing my head off after half term. You have to find the things in life that make you happy and this is one of mine.

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