If you go to a Sing Out Saturdays session, you might think you're just stepping into a scout hut for a sing-a-long. In fact, you're walking into a different world. On this strange but wonderful planet, my monkey brain stopped and changed gear to focus on ONE THING ONLY. A near-miracle.
Led by Chris Rowbury, 'choristers' are taught three beautiful harmony songs from around the world. This month, we sang a Malawian prayer about "dumping your burdens on God" (as Chris eloquently translated it), an uplifting Hawaiian song about the female deity Pele, the Fire Goddess, the creator of the Hawaiian Islands and finally, Look What They've Done To My Song by Melanie Safka.
As a first timer to the group - and in fact any choir - and despite never having heard of any of the tunes and not being a particularly good singer, I had a great time. I like to believe I managed to get by ok (mainly by relying heavily on the support of fellow group members who actually knew what they were doing). I particularly enjoyed the level of concentration required to learn the words and harmonies - a surprisingly challenging task! My diaphragm also got a good work out too.
At the end of the session, Chris records the final three pieces which he emails to you so you can keep the ear worms going.
I would strongly recommend heading down to future sessions at the Wivenhoe Scout & Guide Hall. Enjoy a flashback to your uniformed youth spent inhaling Eau de Parquet Floor et Mothballs* whilst being transported around the world through song (with a short break for 50p tea and custard creams).
Health benefits (apart from the custard creams)
Singing or chanting does you wonders on a physical level by getting extra oxygen into the body and using important muscles such as the heart diaphragm and core muscles. Using the vocal chords is also known to affect other important nerves and hormone glands in the throat area - the thyroid and vagus nerve both get a massage. Psychological benefits are even richer because singing affects our parasympathetic nervous system. Mood-lifting endorphins are released, therefore reducing stress and ultimately balancing out the whole endocrine system.
Among the many mental health benefits, one piece of research has shown that people who participate in a choir enjoy a greater feeling of togetherness and being part of a collective endeavour than others involved in different social activities.
When? Where? How much?
Sessions generally take place on the third Saturday of each month and cost £8 for 2.5 hours. Due to Easter, April's meeting is on the fourth Saturday 22nd. Other dates are 20th May and 17th June.
Turn out tends to be between 20-40 but it would be lovely to see/hear more voices come along to the next one. Singers of all ages are welcome.