Sing Your Heart Out
I was listening to the radio the other day and heard a fascinating program about choirs in the UK. Unlike Japan, karaoke rooms and bars have never really taken off in the UK, but in the last few years there has been a growing craze for choral singing. There have always been choirs in the UK, but these were mostly associated with churches. Now they are springing up all over the place and there is something for all tastes - whether you like traditional choral music, barber shop, gospel or show music, there will almost definitely be a choir out there that suits you. I've even seen the craze in my own community with neighbors signing up for a one-day rehearsal and performance of Handel's Messiah. And a recent reality TV series called The Choir was extremely popular. It involved the presenter, Gareth Malone, teaching choral music to people with little singing experience.And now, there's a new type of choir in the UK. It's called RockChoir and in just seven years it has rapidly grown to become the largest choir in the UK. There are now over 200 branches in towns and cities around the UK and Rock Choir looks set to open in Australia, the USA and South Africa.
It all started when the founder, Caroline Redman Lusher, took a new job teaching music at a high school in Farnham, just south of London. To expose the students to different kinds of music, she set up an afterschool choir focusing on contemporary music. It was so popular that she decided to set up another one in the local town for adults. She stuck a notice up in a coffee shop window and called her idea Rock Choir! In the seven years since then, over 8,000 people have signed up for weekly singing sessions. Members range in age from six to 88 but they all share one thing - they don't have any professional singing experience and they want to have a lot of fun.
BBC radio ran a program on Rock Choir this October and I was very interested to hear how passionate Rock Choir members are. Here are some of the things they said to the interviewer.
"I joined Rock Choir four years ago," said Hannah, a probation officer. "It's different from work. I can let my hair down. I can sing my heart out, have a dance and not be judged by anyone. It's a lovely way to spend a couple of hours each week."
hadn't sung for years," said Anne. "I used to sing in the school choir, but
when I started singing around the house, my husband begged me not to. So, I
joined my local Rock Choir and I go every week with my mother and my10-year-old
daughter. Three generations of rock chicks. There's something for everyone: rock,
pop, Motown and gospel music. There are no scary X Factor-style auditions to
join up - all you need are your vocal cords and bags of enthusiasm. We sing
different songs over each 10-week term and finish with a performance at the end
of it. The performance is the icing on the cake."
Caroline Redman Lusher chooses all the songs herself. "I grab some CD's and go for a long drive," she explains. "I love all kinds of music, but I'll pick out the songs that I like. They must have a 'feel-good factor' and a good beat. Then I go home and write all the harmonies. I teach by rote. There's no sheet music. I sing the first line to the bass section and they sing it back. I do the same thing with the altos and the sopranos. All the harmonies are on line and the singers go home and practice on their own. We have ten rehearsals and then a performance. Rock Choir attracts anyone who simply wants to sing feel-good songs in a fun and social atmosphere."
Caroline Redman Lusher is set to launch Rock Choir in the US, Australia and South Africa. Do you think that Rock Choir will ever make it to Japan? You've probably sung karaoke, but would you consider joining a choir and singing along?
Useful vocabulary from the newsletter
barber shop (quartet): four people singing a capella, unaccompanied by any instrument. Each of the four parts has its own role: generally the lead sings the melody, the tenor harmonizes above the melody, the bass sings the lowest harmonizing notes, and the baritone completes the chord. Barbershop singing is performed by groups of men and women.
audition: test, interview. e.g. Various actors had to audition for the part of the heroine in the latest Bond movie.
it all started when.... e.g. I set up my recording business in 2005. It all started when I was working in a music studio in New York. One day I decided that ...
set up: to begin a business = e.g. He set up his recording studio in a rough part of the city.
let my hair down: to relax = e.g.If you are a movie star, it's very difficult to let your hair down in public because there are so many paparazzi hoping to take a photo.
sing my heart out: sing with a lot of passion
beg someone (not) to do something: implore = e.g. I begged my friend to come to karaoke, but he went home early.
it's (the) icing on the cake: an extra enhancement. e.g. Oh, wow! A tank full of gas in my new car. That's icing on the cake!
I love the Christmas vacation, but your joining us for a few days will be the icing on the cake.
bags of enthusiasm : lots of interest
teach by rote: teach by repetition = e.g. The math teacher teaches us by rote. We don't have to prove anything.
contemporary choir: choir singing modern, contemporary music
extra'singing' idioms for you to learn
sing someone's praises: say good things about someone = e.g. Bob was singing Mary's praises this morning. He was really impressed with her last piece of work.
sing from the same song sheet / hymn sheet: working together = e.g. I'm disappointed. You're not listening to each other and you're not working together. We all need to sing from the same song sheet and we all need to cooperate.
it ain't over till the fat lady sings : don't give up until you are certain that you can't succeed = e.g. OK, the score is 19-15. There are only two minutes left, but it ain't over till the fat lady sings. Give it everything you have and we can still win.
sing for your supper: work to earn your reward = e.g. We're going to have sing for our supper to win this contract. XYZ want us to show them our design for the new building before they decide whether to employ our company or not.