If you can speak you can sing, and if you sing, you can change your life.
Whilst working at The University of South Wales in 2013, the staff were invited to join a new choir starting in September.
This turned out to be a work-based choir with Sing & Inspire.
I had never sung in public, not even in church, although I loved singing to myself. I never had any confidence that I could sing. I joined the choir on a whim just to see if I could blend in and lose myself within a large group.
During this time, I was suffering from a prolonged phase of agoraphobia.
In fact, it had been 19 years with no end in sight. I hadn’t been further than a mile from my home in that time, which also affected my relationship with my family as they lived further away than I felt I could comfortably travel.
But as I said earlier, I went along to the choir just for a look see.
I was a little daunted at first as the motivator was using terms like “Alto” and “Soprano”, and not being a singer, I was not too sure of what suited my voice so I stood close to my friends and tried to sing what they were singing. This turned out to be Alto 2.
I struggled to sing to their level and soon came to realise that, although I am a woman and I don’t have a very low speaking voice, my singing voice was suited to tenor better.
This came as a surprise to both myself and the motivator, but I persisted and started to look forward to Wednesdays in choir.
After a short couple of months, we were asked to perform at a function for the University on campus, the senior citizens Christmas lunch given to the local residence of the area.
I was extremely nervous but I bit-the-bullet and did it… I loved it.
Some of the attendees who were also neighbours of mine came to see me after and said how much they enjoyed it.
This boosted my confidence and I felt proud of myself. However, it also made me feel sad that I couldn’t share this with my own family and in particular, my own elderly mother.
So, one Sunday I decided I would steel myself to try the 7-mile drive to my mother’s home.
After a few false starts, I eventually made the trip.
My mother was amazed as this was the first time I had been to her flat in 15 years.
To say that she was happy would be an understatement.
She was 82 at the time and disabled so although we talked most every day on the telephone, I hadn’t seen her for a number of years.
Her confidence in me made me want more and when the opportunity came up to join the Valleys Superchoir I jumped at the chance.
I was relieved that there was no audition or awkwardness I was received with open arms and a friendly smile.
I was still not sure about performing for an audience and even more uncertain of travelling to places to do performances, but with the encouragement of my fellow choristers I eventually travelled to Cardiff for my first ever performance with Superchoir.
The travelling was not easy as I hadn’t been to Cardiff in 20 years, but I did it!
My fellow choristers were so encouraging, supportive and kind that I felt fully confident that if I needed any help they would be there for me.
I have made lifelong friends in the choir and know that I can call on each of them for support for any reason and at any time.
We all support each other and my social life, both within and outside of the choir, has become very busy.
I keep pushing my boundaries and recently have completed a 20-year dream of going back to my childhood summer home, my late Aunt’s house on the coast. I love the seaside and have missed this over the years.
I cannot recommend joining a choir enough. In fact, I now sing in two choirs and help in a third on occasions.
So reader, if you are questioning yourself as you are reading this testimonial…
“Could I really sing in a choir?”
The question I would in fact ask is,
“Can you speak?”
If the answer is ‘yes’ then I would say… If you can speak you can sing, and if you sing, you can change your life.
I changed mine for the better and I wouldn’t change it back!
I am so thankful that I found my calling by joining the choir.
Written by Mel Gapper (USW Sing & Inspire Choir, Superchoir Valleys).