Music in the Community and for the Community with Annie Griffith

Music in the Community and for the Community with Annie Griffith

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Starting a Community Choir…


We are lucky to be surfing a bit of a zeitgeist as far as community singing goes at the moment.  Whilst I am sad about the direction that Gareth Malone has taken singing on TV (competitions?  Why is it always competitions?), I do believe that his Military Wives series in particular, helped to show people that singing was an empowering thing that *anyone* can do.  Lots of people feel able to look for a group to sing with.

The problem comes at the next stage, however.  You’ve summoned up the courage to join a singing group, but you can’t find one near you, or the ones that you can find are not the sort of thing you are looking for.  What should you do?

First of all – don’t give up.  The chances are very good that if you want to join a particular kind of singing group then you probably won’t be the only one.  Experience tells me that there are generally lots of other people willing to have a go if they find the right sort of group.  So why not set one up?

It isn’t as hard as you might think.  Formal choirs generally have piano accompanists and trained conductors familiar with classic and choral music.  They may encourage only music readers to join.

THIS IS NOT THE ONLY WAY TO SING!!!

I have been running choirs for several years now, and singing solo, in bands and in choirs for longer than I care to remember.  And…  I don’t care at all for the classical model with a piano accompanist, beautifully organised SATB parts and lots of showy, complicated music that you need to be able to read to follow.  And that’s OK – it really is.  Plenty of people *do* like that (I actually like to listen to it, but have no desire to participate in it), but plenty of people also like what I do – orchestrated backing tracks, modern and upbeat songs, choose your own part and sing what you love.

It is really easy to do as well.  To get something started, I recommend this setup kit:

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  • A battery-powered portable amplifier (something like this  Block Rocker that works off Bluetooth).
  • An iPod/MP3 player.
  • A copy of any of Mark DeLisser’s “Sing Out” books.
  • A printer with a photocopy facility.

With this setup, you can take a choir rehearsal *anywhere*.  You can work acapella, or if you are uncertain and need a little bit of confidence building, you can sing along with the tracks, following the alternative parts (Mark’s books utilise CDs/downloads of tracks so that everyone can learn their own parts before blending them altogether. )

Pop the tracks from the books onto the iPod, and then connect the iPod to the Bluetooth speaker and just… sing… along.

You can do this in your living room.  Or a church hall.  Or a friend’s garage.  It doesn’t have to be complicated, but it really *should* be joyous.

Don’t wait for someone else to set up your dream choir – do it yourself!!!

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