You may know that I’m a keen choral singer. I sing in 3 different choirs currently and have been singing since I was 5 years old. I was lucky enough to be spotted by a great singing teacher at school and stuck with it ever since then. I feel much better in myself when I’m singing compared to times when I don’t if I’m too busy or something. There are so many benefits for me: using my brain in a different way to sight sing and learn new music, the great feeling of having learnt that music and being able to perform it to concert level, as well as working and achieving something together with a group. Singing can be hard work but for me it’s also social and fun. Being able to perform with other musicians and in different venues is also always a treat.
Now, according to contemporary choral composer and musical director Eric Whitacre, (who I wrote about here) the health benefits of singing have been scientifically proven. Whitacre has collaborated with a scientist working in the centre for performance science at the Royal College of Music to monitor stress hormone levels in singers when they are rehearsing and performing. The audience was also monitored. The conclusion was that for singers and audiences, after singing or listening to singing, stress hormone levels went down and all involved felt more relaxed.
“Singing is something that many people inherently feel is good for them and relaxes them. But to actually show biologically (and demonstrate scientifically) that it can reduce stress is very exciting.” – Eric Whitacre
I agree with the study as even at times when I don’t feel like going to rehearsal, I’m always in a better mood after having a good sing! I also know that listening to live or even recorded music relaxes me.
On the subject of choirs, I’m looking forward to Dustin Hoffman’s new film The Choir. Hoffman plays the part of the musical director of a boys choir and the film follows the journey of one troubled boy to becoming the musical academy’s best singer. Dustin Hoffman is in the press at the moment for bemoaning the state of the film industry in terms of money-making being at the top of the list and the lack of time that can be spent on making movies. Hoffman did however say about music,
“I love it more than anything, but I can’t play well enough to make a living out of it. If God tapped me on the shoulder right now and said ‘no more acting, no more directing, but you can be a decent jazz pianist’ … I could never read music gracefully. I don’t have a good ear. I still want to do it. I would love to do it.”
Well I think he could do anything!
I have always loved singing and was lucky to grow up in a household where music was important whether it was The Beatles, pieces of famous classical music or ‘world’ music from other cultures – something was always playing in the car or at home.
I am into a really wide range of music and I don’t understand when people seem bemused that I like opera, classical, reggae, dub, ska, klezmer, folk, 60s pop, grunge, retro close harmony a cappella and much more!
I was lucky to start singing lessons from the age of 6 through school and I haven’t stopped singing since then, in choirs at school, universities and then semi professionally in chamber choirs.
I have been classically trained in singing and completed the 8 grade examinations. Singing in a choir is brilliant – there are so many benefits! Working on a piece and getting it to performance level can be challenging and is very rewarding. Performing balances adrenaline and nerves and it’s a great feeling of pride when the audience shows their appreciation at the end! Singing in a choir involves many skills and also means that you are part of a team and are involved in a wonderful community of creative, talented people.
Having sung in choirs throughout my schooling, entering solo and choral competitions including at the Eisteddfod as well as singing in choir tours in Spain and Italy, I have sung in University Chamber Choirs at Sussex and Leicester and Pisa. A memorable singing moment from that time was singing with many other Italian University choirs in a private part of the Vatican, inside St Peter’s Basilica, Rome.
I now sing in the English Chamber Choir which involves weekly rehearsals in the City and frequent performances at St Martin-in-the-Fields in Trafalgar Square as well as other London venues,. We make recordings of our work and have a wide repertoire ranging from classical crowd pleasers like Mozart’s Requiem to prog rock singing for Rick Wakeman! I get to sing in fantastic venues for all different kinds of events with a variety of creative people.
Hear and see English Chamber Choir singing
I have sung solos including ‘The Mouse’ from Benjamin Britten’s ‘Rejoice in the Lamb’ at St James the Great in Leicester, ‘Tecum Principium’ from Handel’s Dixit Dominus at St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe in the City, London and most recently I have sung the Pie Jesu from Faure’s Requiem at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London.