How many times have you heard a choir sing and stopped to listen, thinking how wonderful it would be to be involved – if only you were brave enough to sing in front of a group of strangers!
It’s the season for a festive sing-along. But, if you are like me, singing is probably confined to the car or the shower. Put me in a group setting and I’ll be silently mouthing the words, afraid of messing up and attracting unwanted attention with my unpolished voice, which tends to hit all the wrong notes.
It seems that so many people are shy about singing in public, but why is it that we are so lacking in confidence in this area?
I still remember the day I was told I was singing ‘flat’ when singing in the primary school choir. From that moment, my confidence melted away like a snowman on a sunny day. I know I’m not alone with this, I’ve heard similar stories from countless people. It’s such a shame that this lack of confidence in our own voice means that we miss out on something so uplifting and powerful.
There really are so many benefits of singing in a group situation. There’s evidence to suggest that regular participation in a group choral activity can significantly improve physical and mental health. According to Grenville Hancox professor of music at Canterbury Christ Church University, and co-director of the university’s Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health:
“When you sing [in a choral situation] your brain is flooded, it is totally occupied, everything else is sent away. And when people come together to sing, there is a strong collective effort. Someone who has felt isolated feels part of something.”
We spoke to Caitlin from the Left Bank Vocal Collective about why she thinks singing is so good for the soul:
“Singing in a choir is so socially and emotionally stimulating that you literally sync heartbeats with other choir members! It’s an emotional act, where you give a lot of yourself to those who listen. When we hear a room full of people launch into a well-known song or carol, we get a rush of excitement. It reminds us of all the good things in the world that we should be doing, but don’t always allow ourselves to.”
We were also interested to know what advice Caitlin has for those of us who are a bit nervous:
“Come anyway! Students nearly always feedback that they feel nervous singing in front of another person (even the really talented singers) and the highlight of my work is building confidence in all my students. Left Bank Vocal Collective is a lot about that for me, but it’s mostly about having lots of fun, creating a warm and welcoming environment but also giving everyone a challenge and showing them that everyone can sing quite complex, beautiful music well (not just the select few!)”.
This Christmas at Left Bank Leeds we’re encouraging everyone, especially those of you who would usually shy away, to join us for a very informal sing-along. We invite you to let your hair down, grab yourself a beer and join in as we belt out some Christmas favourites by the piano. (You can always stand next to someone with a really loud voice if you are particularly shy).
It really doesn’t matter how your voice sounds! If you join in and let yourself go, we can pretty much guarantee you’ll leave feeling uplifted with a smile on your face.
Join us for Beer and Carols between 4:30 and 5:30pm on Sunday 18th December. It’s a free event but please RSVP here. Arrive early to hear the Left Bank Vocal Collective sing from 4pm.
If you have little ones, they might enjoy our free Messy Christmas craft activities at 3pm. Again, this event is free to attend but please book your tickets.
The Left Bank Vocal Collective is a choir for anyone who enjoys a good sing. You don’t have to be brilliant, just enthusiastic. Held at Left Bank Leeds on alternate Mondays 7.30pm – 9.15pm (weekly from Jan 2017). Email firstname.lastname@example.org for dates and to find out more. Follow LBVC on Facebook for updates.
Text by Jo Pickles who is a Designer at Jo Elise Designs and Marketing Manager at Left Bank Leeds.