So, last night, I did something I've been promising myself I would do for a very long time...I joined a local singing group! ...or to be precise, the Milton Keynes Women's Choir. Accompanied by another artist and equally nervous friend, Shelly, we entered the pub where the practice sessions are held with a sense of excitement and trepidation with just a touch of bowel loosening fear. We ordered a soft drink and presented ourselves on wobbly legs sporting worried grimaces to the leader and organiser, the fabulously talented and ultra friendly Nicola who is an acclaimed singer songwriter as well as a singing and voice coach. From there on in, we were hooked!
Nicola got us to do a round of warm up 'scale' type singing, which really got the old voice box revved up and explained the 'oranges in the armpits' technique to engage one's diaphragm in order to project one's singing voice and be heard. This involves imagining you have an orange under each arm which you must squish to your ribs, the action of which has the effect of drawing the ribcage and diaphragm slightly upwards giving you better chance of projecting the voice outward...fascinating and good general advice for good posture too!
Next, we were given a song sheet of an Adele number, which was good for me as I think I am Adele when I'm in the bath, shower, on the loo or in my studio...basically where I think no-one else will hear me murdering their favourite tunes. We sang 'Send My Love' which I had not heard before but I now feel as if I wrote after the in-depth analysis of the subtle nuances of every syllable by actually singing them! It turns out I am probably a 'Mezzo', which I always thought was a platter of greek style nibbles, but apparently not. It means I'm not a 'bloke' (Alto) but also not a 'real woman' (Soprano) either, which came as no surprise to me, I'm rubbish at walking in high heels these days and I don't even own any oven gloves. It was all in good humour though and I think we laughed just as much as we sang. We even got to record it all at the end when we sang it all the way through and again in the car on the way home at the top of our voices!.
As I am used to spending long periods of time on my own in my studio and am a natural introvert, social gatherings of any kind present a challenge for me at the best of times, which is probably why I have been putting it off for so long. I am also a bit on the highly strung side, prone to emotional overwhelm. It has been known for my eyes to spring a leak in the presence of beautiful voices singing in unison, which isn't usually a prolem in one's own front room watching Gareth Malone coaching groups of Post Office workers, but can be a bit embarrassing in public. A week or so previously, I went to see the MK Women's Choir perform and spent the whole time choking back the tears, desperately trying to act 'normal' so no-one would notice I had gone into an emotional stupor. So, it was a relief to find that didn't happen when I was actually taking part...in fact, quite the opposite. In light of all the terrible and desperately sad things reported in the news lately, it was very definitely the antidote to misery...in fact, Shelly couldn't have put it better when she described it as 'smile therapy'. Perfect.
To learn more about the MK Women's Choir and about Nicola go to www.nickirogers.com and to see some of Shelly's art go to