Sing Out Loud

During the Summer of last year I took on a side project of blogging for my local singing group, Sing Out Loud. I really do love writing and given any opportunity to express myself creatively, I’ll take it. The group meets in Chelmsford, every Thursday night and is genuinely one of the highlights of my week. It’s a wonderful way to relieve stress, escape from the real world for a bit and improve your skill as a singer. At 24, I’m by far the youngest person who attends but that in no way changes the dynamic of the group; I’ve always gotten on well with people who are much older than I am and the people I’ve met are all so unique it’s impossible not to fall in love with them all.

The evenings are filled with laughter, tea, chatter and yes, there’s even singing at some point. I have made some life-long friendships with some of the Sing Out Loud members, one in particular being Chrissie, a wonderfully funny and caring lady who has become my ‘surrogate gran’. Since my own died a little while ago, this is now a relationship I truly treasure. We bonded through a rather special reason. I have quite a resemblance (especially) physically and emotionally to her granddaughter, who unfortunately died a few years ago from cancer. It’s absolutely heartbreaking to know that she and her family went through something like that, but knowing that when she sees me she can feel some joy and happiness again is a comfort I’m glad I can give.

In total I wrote 5 pieces for the group. I was very moved and surprised by the reaction of the other members; they all looked forward to my next posts and told me I write beautifully. I’ll be writing more for them this month, so I’ll keep you updated on that.

Here are a few of my posts; I hope you like them. If you want to read up more on Sing Out Loud, visit their website here!

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14th June 2013 – My First Blog Post

It’s hard to believe we’re already into the middle of June and yet here we are! After a two week hiatus in which the country had its traditional one week of Summer, we all returned last night ready and raring to get back into the swing of things!

Despite the ever-changing weather, everyone was in high spirits. We almost had a full turn out, which meant the laughter and nattering was at full volume! It was wonderful to see everyone again – I’d really noticed the absence of the class, which has easily become the highlight of my week and I was thrilled come Thursday morning when I had to pack my song folder in anticipation of the evening!

It may have been our first class back, but last night was special for another reason… it was the lovely Iris’s Birthday and the whole group was treated to some absolutely delicious cakes. I think we were all surprised there were any left at the end! Thank you Iris – and Happy Birthday (and Chrissie for making those delicious cakes)!

We went over the songs we’d been learning weeks before, including some of my personal favourites: The Water Is Wide, Roseville Fair and Fix You. What I’ve noticed over the past few weeks is just how good the whole group is getting. I’m genuinely astounded when many tell me they’ve never sung before nor had professional tutoring! From the harmonies to the emotional understanding of each song, it’s clear that we just keep getting better and better. There are times when I’ll stop singing and just listen and I am so impressed with everyone! Well done guys!

I also heard a song that I wasn’t familiar with – Universal Child by Annie Lennox. The class sang it beautifully and David was quite right – I’ve already been listening to it again since last night! I think it’s an excellent addition to our already remarkable repertoire!

What’s really struck a chord with me is how Sing Out Loud is filled with not just vibrant voices, but also an array of incredible personalities that leave you laughing and feeling incredibly at home. To be able to express myself in an environment where I feel completely comfortable and stress-free is a gift – one I definitely don’t take for granted.

It was an evening filled with tea, tales and yes – even the odd tan. Not to mention plenty of singing, of course. It was brilliant to be back and for me a great end to the week. I’m already looking forward to next week – see you there!

Emily

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25th June 2013 – The Halstead Beat-A-Fest Weekend

Well, what a week! After our final rehearsal on Thursday evening, I think we were all looking forward to our first performance of the term – I know I certainly was. Saturday came – and so did the rain! But that didn’t dampen the group spirit. Our ‘stage’ was the Bandstand, in the picturesque Halstead Public Gardens, which throughout the afternoon played host to some wonderful and vibrant acts… (I particularly enjoyed David and Brian’s playing, though I’m not biased, I swear!)

We eventually made it on to the platform at around 6 o’clock. It was definitely a little chilly (though nothing compared to Hyland’s House – or so I’ve heard), but we gave it our all. We executed each song brilliantly and most importantly, had fun doing it. Singing, personally, brings me so much joy, so much so that despite singing for around 15 minutes, I just wanted to carry on and on!

For me this was my first time performing since I was 16 and I loved every second of it. I was a little apprehensive, but felt far more confident knowing I was up there with everyone else. There’s no mistaking the support and camaraderie within our circle and it was a pleasure to perform some of our best songs all together.

Events like these, regardless of size, are so important because they inspire the young and old alike to express themselves and delve into the world of music. I went home feeling exhilarated and motivated to get back on the stage again, which is not something I expected so soon. Music has been a huge part of my life and so I leave you with a quote that I’ve always held to be true. Have a great week and see you all Thursday for the Open Evening!

‘I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.’ – Billy Joel

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2nd July 2013 – Oh, What A Night!

Last week’s Sing Out Loud Open Evening was a roaring success and a night I won’t forget for many years to come. Not only was it my first time EVER singing in front of my mum, but it was, by the end, the pivotal moment in which I decided to start playing the piano again.

As a testament to our hard work and rapport, the group was perfectly in sync and performed brilliantly. I thought that ‘Somewhere Along the Road’ especially, was delivered beautifully. Out of our entire repertoire, singing ‘Fix You’ gave me the most gratification because it is originally by Coldplay, one of my mum’s (and my) favourite bands and it was such a pleasure to see her smiling and actually singing (well, talking) along!

Towards the finale, Karen and Brian delighted us all with a lovely rendition of ‘Only You’, a song we will hopefully be learning soon! I wish I had the confidence to get up there and sing so confidently… one day perhaps!

The evening ended on a high note with David’s band, ‘Two Coat’s Colder’ treating us to a number of songs. I can’t even begin to describe how much I loved their music! From David’s flawless playing of the Mandolin (now one of my favourite instruments!), to Anna’s exquisite voice, the whole ensemble was incredible. I’ve seen a few live bands before, but this was by far my favourite experience. You wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve listened to ‘Six Thousand Miles’…!

I left feeling exhilarated and revitalised; quite literally bouncing and dancing down the road singing many of the songs from the evening – and if that isn’t proof of the magic in music, then I don’t know what is!

I can’t believe there are only 2 weeks left to the end of term; I’m actually willing the ‘Summer’ to pass by quickly, just so that we can resume our weekly get-togethers! I know I won’t stop singing, but there are so many faces I’m going to miss!

In the run up to Thursday’s session, I’m going to research some songs we can potentially sing in the Winter term; I already have a few ideas up my sleeve… Do you have any thoughts?

See you all soon!

Emily

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