Dear Forte Family

Forte member Ellie writes a word of thanks to singing and the family it has given her.

Dear Forte Family,

When I walked through that door in Pimlico 18 months ago, I had no idea what the future held for me. I had just dropped out of university, my first attempt, having spent the previous four months miserable and lost day in, day out. My spark had gone, along with the things in my life that made me smile and be excited about the days and weeks ahead.

Sitting with my Godmother over dinner towards the end of that seemingly endless autumn term, she suggested I needed to start getting back into something I loved. That I join a society, made some friends and found a small window of joy each week that would carry me through the days in between.  

Singing. 

 Ellie backstage at Black & Teal and at a Forte Eurovision party

Ellie backstage at Black & Teal and at a Forte Eurovision party

I had sung all the way through school: my Junior School and Senior School choirs, singing lessons from the age of 10 and, of course, many solo shower/kitchen/car journey performances on a daily basis. Singing was, and is, something I love. As soon as I am in a space alone, music appears whether through the radio, the computer or me singing and la-ing my way through the day. 

So, it made sense. Join a singing group. A revelation! Somewhere out there, groups of people existed that loved to sing just as much as I did and they gather each week and do so, together! They take that passion and create an explosion of music and happiness that can’t help but bring a smile to people’s faces. Somewhere out there was Starling Arts. A few days later I was emailing Anna and Emily, a month later I was walking through the door into my first rehearsal with Forte.

 On stage with Forte at a Starling Cabaret

On stage with Forte at a Starling Cabaret

Of course, at first it was tricky. I was nervous and my anxiety and sadness from the months before were far from gone. I was jumping from appointment to appointment for anti-anxiety medication and CBT, all while trying to work out my plan. You know, the whole life plan thing. What do I do? Where next? Do I try university again? Have I always been right and simply never been made for the whole Uni thing? If I’m not, then what happens next?  Everyone else is on a straight path heading forwards and I’m stuck at a cross roads. 

 Members of Forte on a weekend ramble

Members of Forte on a weekend ramble

But somehow, week by week, Tuesday evening by Tuesday evening, a weight began to lift. While my days may have been a bubble of uncertainty and confusion, my Forte evenings were a constant. Each week, I became more confident and slowly stepped out of my bubble. I revealed more and more about myself with every getting-to-know-you game during the warm-ups. With every cake-filled break I developed the strength to move towards someone instead of waiting for them to come to me, allowing myself to laugh and smile and, with each week, make new friends. Friends who not only stand by me as we sing but who I sit in the pub with every week for an hour or two before rehearsal, who I take the tube home with at the end of every Tuesday night, who I stay in lovely houses with in the middle of the countryside for a weekend away, accompanied by a very large amount of food, wine, karaoke, murder mystery (the game, don’t panic) and much, much laughter. Friends who only a week ago I spent my Sunday with rambling around the edge of London, not quite sure how to navigate our way without the aid of city-mapper, but still making it to the half-way Sunday lunch pub and to the delayed (and then cancelled) train journey home at the end. Friends who this week, when I finished my exam at the end of my (second attempt) first year at Uni studying something I actually enjoy, I wanted to tell, and who on receiving the news, flooded me with the kindest messages I could have asked for. 

 Forte's murder mystery during a weekend away together

Forte's murder mystery during a weekend away together

Forte, to me, you are more than friends now. From my first rehearsal when I was a girl I barely recognise, to today, you have helped carry me through each week. Full of big hearts, kind words and the types of warm-ups that involve hugging everybody, I couldn’t ask for a better singing family.

Because that’s what you really are. My Forte Family. And Holy Cow, do I love you all.

So thank you, 

Ellie