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Community Choir On Song With The Rhythm Of Life

Published on: 16 Mar, 2015
Updated on: 16 Mar, 2015

Anna Valentina meets some of the singers from the Rhythm of Life community choir who rehearse on Thursday evenings at the Park Barn Centre in Guildford

I would bet that everyone knows singing makes us happier. However simple that might be, singing is actually very powerful. It not only floods your brain with hormones of happiness, but also improves its work. Singing stimulates memory and can even help people to learn foreign languages.

But not only is it beneficial to health, it is also a very pleasant way to build a community.

Members of the Rhythm of Life community choir in rehearsal.

Members of the Rhythm of Life community choir in rehearsal.

So there is no big wonder that Park Barn resident, Gill, loves Thursdays. This is the day when she and her twin sister go to the Park Barn Centre for a bit of singing in the Rhythm of Life community choir.

The fact that they are singing for fun and enjoyment, takes away a lot of pressure. They are all in good company together.

Although Gill takes great pleasure singing in the choir now, she confided that it took all her courage to join. Her previous singing experience was in her school choir – and the gap in time has been a long one! Although she was not confident about her voice, her fears vanished within a few rehearsals, thanks to the very friendly atmosphere and pleasure of people singing together.

Gill is not the only person who was quite worried before she stepped in. Jane Smith had never sung in public and her singing was limited to crooning a bit while doing housework. Nevertheless, she was very excited when her husband Neil told her about a call for singers to join the choir that he read in a local newspaper. Now her fears are long gone and she does her best not to miss any of the rehearsals.

The choir sings a wide selection of numbers from pop classics and songs from the shows to even a bit of jazz. It was formed in May last year and has performed several times. Their fundraisers at local churches, that included singing Christmas songs and carols, and the same for elderly people at Claremont Court Care Home in Stoughton and at the Park Barn Centre, all went down extremely well.

The choir's musical director Karen Taylor.

The choir’s musical director Karen Taylor.

The choir’s musical director is Karen Taylor, a third year music student at the University of Surrey.

I was not able to stop myself from watching this young girl. She was literally bursting with emotions as the choir perfected their practising – encouraging them to sing ‘higher, higher’. At times it seems she might even fly up into the air as she waved her hand while conducting.

Although Karen joined the choir just six months ago, she has lifted it up to a higher level. As a musician who specialises in conducting, she knows exactly how to teach and encourage people to sing.

Her conducting experience is not limited to the Rhythm of Life choir, as she works with two more choirs at the university.

With this choir, the biggest thing seems to a total absence of pressure – everything is done with a lot of fun. But this does not mean the singers are not trying to improve, they are making good progress every time they rehearse. 

Karen said that she has been so impressed working with this community choir, that she is seriously considering making career as a community musician.

Their voices are very good, but the choir could do with some more male voices. Karen said they could add a wider range of wonderful songs to their repertoire if they had more voices in a lower range.

If you can spare a couple of hours on Thursday evenings to sing – you are most welcome to join. And if you can sing in a low voice, who knows, you might become a local star!

Age is no barrier also – as the choir feature singers of all ages, the youngest being some students from Kings College.

Deep in concentration of the song they are practising..

Deep in oncentration on a new song the choir is perfecting.

You don’t have to live in the local area – one member travels from Croydon each week. She was looking to join a choir there, but could not find one. She visits Guildford regularly as she is a member of a local knitting club and comes to sing in the evenings.

The choir is accompanied by David Rose on guitar, who is one of the founder members of the choir. The idea of a choir based in the Park Barn area was a joint one between him, Tracy James and Julia McShane when they attended Voluntary Action South West Surrey’s annual conference last April. A workshop at the event was to think of a community-based scheme and not let the idea be forgotten, but within a year make it a reality.

Working on some new songs.

Working on some new songs.

Within a month they had arranged an open meeting to see if people would be interested in getting together to do some singing. There was no shortage of willing volunteers and David (who is the co-ordinator of the Joining In! project in the Westborough ward that supports community involvement) was delighted that after a couple of months of rehearsals they had a number of songs up to concert performance.

New members of all ages are always welcome – no matter what your experience or vocal range is. Go along and meet them – you might want to just have a listen first, there’s no obligation to join in straight away.

They meet most Thursday evenings from 7pm to 8.30pm, at the Park Barn Centre, Park Barn Drive, Guildford GU2 8EN. Please note: the next rehearsal will be on Thursday, March 26.

More details from Tracy James on 07767 475822, Julia McShane on 01483 837736, or David Rose on 07825 419408.

Check out the Rhythm of Life community choir’s Facebook page.

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Responses to Community Choir On Song With The Rhythm Of Life

  1. Deanna Davis Reply

    March 16, 2015 at 4:39 am

    I am thoroughly enjoying singing with this choir.

    I have made loads of friends and they help me by carrying my folder containing the song lyrics as I have to use two walking sticks.

    I use my mobility scooter to get to choir practice.

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