Fond memories of music class at school and the odd shower performance spurred me towards my next hobby – singing in a choir. It’s a respectable past time and, while it’s unlikely to help your fitness levels, choir singing is reported to have splendid effects on your stress levels.
There are two types of choirs in London (both generally charge in case you were hoping that was the swing); one takes everybody, which is feel-good but also means if you’ve a delicate ear you may want to murder someone. The other holds auditions, which may increase the quality of the output but at the risk of rejecting some or feeling a little exclusive, so it really depends on how seriously you want to take it.
I found the Singing in London website on one of my hobby hunts and signed up to join their once-a-month open evenings at the grand Lauderdale House in Highgate (a shame, then, to hear it’s since moved on as this was one of its best features). The group charges £35 per month once you’re a committed member, and is part of the former ‘all-welcome’ types.
On arrival, it appeared that we were younger than the average age (more towards retirement), and it was soon clear why; an intro is given by Idit who welcomes the new-comers and relays that this choir primarily focuses on musicals, a crucial fact I’d missed on their website. Next Kieran – the session-leader – takes over and begins with a warm up. We’ve come a long way since do-re-mi, and exercises include laughing without sound and wobbling cheeks to warm the face and vocal chords. Both very important, despite making you feel a little foolish.
We then launch into one of two challenging numbers we’d never heard of; Shipoopi from the 1962 The Music Man, followed by Everything’s coming up roses from more recent Gypsy. Despite Kieran’s patient attempts at navigating the group around the obstacled songs, they take longer than expected and the evening ends just shy of ‘nailing’ them, which reduces the feel-good-factor I’d come for.
Despite missing the “musicals” focus of the choir, I’d have thought for open evenings they they’d wheel out a better known ditty, perhaps an Andrew Lloyd Webber to entice new joiners, but I may just not be right target audience.
Whilst I won’t be heading back, it may well be your bag so go along and give it a go. I am, however, keen to give another venue a go so will do a follow-up if it strikes a chord (oh come on, we’d come this far).
Other places to sing your heart out in London:
- City Lit has a whole shelf of options ranging from choral to jazz, Covent Garden, London. Prices start from £15 for a beginner’s choir taster.
- For something a little different you can try LGBT-friendly ‘Pink Singers‘ in King’s Cross, London. They’re auditioning in September for their new season.
- London Oriana Choir – for something a little more serious, they are recruiting for tenor and bass near Victoria, London.
- Friendly South London group London Sings in Brixton, London, take all abilities with Monday night rehearsals free to join a few times before a £15 monthly subscription is collected for the joiners.