Thursday 1 August 2013

Singing is Good For You – and Buildings

A month of rehearsals, July 2013

During this for us very busy month the BBC, in their article Choir singers 'synchronise their heartbeats', confirmed what we already knew – singing is good for you. I certainly feel as bad if I don’t get a couple of fixes a week as if I haven’t cleaned my teeth or completed my daily stretch of writing.
I was coerced into to joining the choir by a friend who has since left. But then within a couple of weeks I remembered how much I enjoyed singing. I remember also, when I used to be a high school teacher, being asked with a bunch of colleagues to attend rehearsals for Joseph to help the youngsters gain their confidence and their volume. This was on a Wednesday when I accrued tons of marking and taught difficult classes all day. Every week I would regret my promise, but I’d go along all the same and every time when I got back to my classroom I’d wonder why I’d been so bothered. Singing had definitely lifted my spirits and helped me to get my work back into perspective.
I suppose I’m old enough to have sung hymns every day at school and had a couple of singing lessons a week as well – at least until the end of the third year at Grammar School. Singing is such a human thing to do. I have to give it to the French: every time I’ve been out and about on a trip with a group of French schoolchildren, the singing on the coach has been wonderful.
And now the BBC endorses all of that with some quite scientific reasoning. It’s all about synchrony – of breathing and heartbeat as well as the harmony in the music itself. I personally enjoy working closely with a group of people as my day job involves being a stand-alone expert in my field, often working in an isolated office.
Talking of which, it was extraordinarily delightful to have the choir rehearse one week in the rather neglected building where that very office is situated. Two of us worked there at the time. More and more colleagues are being moved out of the building for various reasons. Corridors echo and sometimes you feel as if you are absolutely alone. The building felt less depressing afterwards. Could it be that music had somehow got into the bricks and mortar?  All that air moving around … echoes … changed atmosphere. Maybe. More likely, probably, I now associate that building with the choir as well as the mobile colleagues. Alas, the one who arranged it all has now left the building and I shall be doing so shortly.
Yes, it’s been a busy month. The first two weeks we were getting ready for three important gigs. Then we’ve turned out attention to learning new songs and polishing up ones we know reasonably well. We have a couple of weeks’ break in August and folk are away on holiday at various times over the next few weeks. We start a whole new season in the autumn. Jeff is pushing us quite hard now but I think we enjoy being pushed.