Emily rebuffs some of the most common myths that stop people from singing:
When I tell people my job involves teaching non-singers to sing, I often hear the reply 'Oh I'm a terrible singer'.
I'm here to say that 1. You're not, and 2. It doesn't matter, get singing anyway.
Here are some urban vocal legends that I want to set straight:
Singing is embarrassing
I hear you, singing out loud in public can feel a little odd if you don't do it every day. But most people would be happy to sing along with chants at a local derby football match, or along to their favourite song at a concert at the 02. Singing in a more structured way - for example a singing lesson or rehearsal - doesn't have to be any more intimidating than the let rip mentality of crowd singing. And if you glance round the world, most cultures use song as an integral part of ritual, celebration and memorial. There's nothing more odd about group singing than the way we Brits obsess about making tea or queue. Use your voice and after a couple minutes of singing it'll feel like second nature.
I don't have a good voice
Let me clear something up; everyone can sing. The extent to which each person creates a tuneful, rhythmic and beautiful tone of course varies but these qualities CAN be improved upon with practice. And although we're not all born with the vocal power of Adele, we can gain all the same benefits by singing, however pleasant the tone of our voice. Studies have proven that the act of group singing is enough to synchronise our heartbeats and offer stress busting hormones, whatever the sound actually coming out of our mouths. And even a rusty voice can contribute significantly to a choir, where the emphasis is on a collective sound. So don't let confidence hold back the notes. Sing out and not only will you feel better, but your voice will begin to improve too.
Singing in a choir is good for your health and happiness
Ordinary people don't sing
Take everyone's reaction to Susan Boyle's first audition for Britain's Got Talent. The nation was shocked that someone so 'ordinary' could sing so well. Why? Because we often think only those marked as special are entitled to a voice. Obviously this isn't true. Everyone has some sort of voice, and often those we mark as 'talented' have worked really hard to hone their skills. Susan Boyle had trained tirelessly and used all her savings to create demos before finding international fame on BGT. SuBo proves that singing ability isn't just about preened pop-star styling or supernatural talents assigned at birth. Singing is about passion as much as anything else.
Singing is 'just for fun'
Yes, singing is a fun thing to do. One of our choir members described it as the most fun you could have with 30 other people without breaking the law. But singing does so much more than offer 'a laugh'. Instead it can offer a wealth of benefits to individuals, businesses and communities. If you want to be persuaded of the health and social benefits of singing, check out this post arguing for Singing on Prescription. So group singing does a magical job of bringing us together, relaxing us, making us healthier and happier. Who wouldn't want that for their personal well-being, workplace or sanity?!
Singing may be fun, but with fun comes a host of other benefits
Singing in a choir is difficult, stuffy and serious
Singing, especially in a choir, means learning long, difficult music, often in a foreign language, right? Wrong. Singing in a simple harmony or even in unison (singing the same melody) can be extremely beautiful, effective and satisfying to sing. Need 100 people in a cathedral to sound stunning? Wrong again. Even five work mates in the canteen after lunch can create an amazing effect. And choral music doesn't have to be classical - here at Starling Arts we arrange everything especially for the strengths, likes and make up of the groups we're singing with, and include a mix of pop, rock and jazz as well as show tunes.
For every excuse people use for not singing, there are many more reasons to give it a go.