Anyone Can Sing (Yes, Even YOU!)

Anyone Can Sing (Yes, Even YOU!)
Type of post: Chorus news item
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Emma Tofi
Status: Current
Date Posted: Thu, 12 Oct 2023
More Harmony are on the hunt for new singers!  This means we're about to hear one common phrase a lot:

"Oh, I'd love to join, but I can't sing!"


With very few exceptions, pretty much anyone can sing.  Whilst people are often guilty of referring to themselves as "tone deaf," in reality, only around 1.5% of the world's population suffer from a disorder called congenital amusia, which prevents them from hearing a difference in pitch, tone, and rhythm.  That leaves a whopping 98.5% of us across the globe who can most definitely sing!

Singing is a skill like any other and can be learned.  In fact, singing is more accessible than many other skills, because the majority of us already have the componants we need to sing well, whether we realise it or not.  It's simply a case of learning how to use the equipment we were born with in order to create the best possible sound for ourselves. 

Over the years, we've had members of More Harmony say things like:

"None of my friends can believe I'm in a choir!"


"I was always told I had a rubbish voice."

So, how did those members go from hiding their lights under a bushel to blasting out songs with us?!


Put Those Doubts Aside...

The very first thing you need to do if you want to learn to sing is silence the nagging doubMore Harmony in Wadebridge, North Cornwall, where the choir sang for the Queen's Platinum Jubileets in your own mind.  Whether you're still clinging on to the time a school music teacher told you you sounded flat, or being overwhelmed with nerves at the thought of singing in front of other people, it is entirely normal to feel a bit vulnerable - after all, joining a choir often means walking into a room full of people who already know each other and feeling like the new kid at school - but if you're determined to learn to sing, then this is the vital first step!

At More Harmony, we pride ourselves on our warm welcome.  We all remember how it felt to walk into the hall for the first time and we are all determined to ensure that anyone who joins us is met with a sea of friendly faces and a decent cup of tea at break time!  Our chorus is made up of women from a variety of different backgrounds and many of our singers have formed close friendships that stretch well beyond Thursday nights.  So, it could be more than just learning how to sing that you gain from joining us!  You couldn't ask for a more supportive place to sing, so if nerves are all that's stopping you, it's time to kick them to the curb!


Your Comfortable Vocal Range Might Not Be Where You Think It Is!

When you're singing along to the radio or serenading your rubber duck in the shower, you're usually singing the actual tune of a song.  This is where some people start telling themselves they can't sing - perhaps you're straining to reach those high notes, or finding that you sound flat against the main melody.

More Harmony Women's Barbershop Chorus - a choir for women in Cornwall - rehearsing at Wadebridge Ambulance HallOne of the first things our Musical Director does with potential new members is a voice test.  We promise, that is not anything to panic about and you won't be singing in front of anyone but her!  She'll literally just have you sing back a few notes she'll play for you, or get you to sing a familiar song like Happy Birthday to see where you pitch it, before placing you in the section that best suits your vocal range.  Where you end up might come as a surprise...

We've had people come through our doors telling us they struggle to sing along to the radio and don't know why, only for them to realise they've got a beautifully rich bass voice that had never been discovered, because they were too busy straining themselves to try to hit the high notes!  The opposite is also true - I have a good friend who always believed she had a low voice and couldn't understand why she always sounded "wrong" when she sang along to her favourite songs.  When she joined a choir, her MD instantly realised she was a soprano and there was no looking back after that point - everything just clicked into place!

Your singing voice tends to be higher than your speaking voice, but our voices tend to drop lower as we get older.  So put simply, you might not know where your vocal range naturally sits until you've been placed in a section (for us, it goes from bass at the bottom, then up to baritone, lead and tenor at the top), and you may well find that as soon as you're singing at a different pitch to the one you're used to, it all comes much more naturally!


It's A PHYSICAL Thing!

Every rehearsal begins with a physical and vocal warm up.  That's because singing is, believe it or not, a form of exercise and one you need to limber up for!  Any tension in your body will impact on your singing, so we ensure tWarming up at rehearsal in Wadebridge, North Cornwall.  A good choir always warms up before singing!hat we loosen ourselves up and are ready for action.

Our warm ups always include breathing exercises.  Without getting too bogged down in the technical details, strengthening your diaphragm is essential to learning to sing well, as is working on your lung capacity (vital for those long notes!).  So, if you come along to a rehearsal, you'll find that you start the evening with lots of deep, slow breathing and exercises to strengthen this part of your body.  We encourage everyone to bring a bottle of water, because as the warm ups tend to prove, singing is thirsty work!

Everyone's voice is different and of course, everyone's lifestyle and background is different, so these exercises at the start of every rehearsal help to ground us all and give everyone the best chance of creating a brilliant sound.  Beginning with the basics also means that there's never a wrong time to come along and join in!  You'll always start in the right place.  Oh, and as an aside, I'm writing this as a person who is severely asthmatic.  Doing my breathing exercises every week and working on my lung capacity has had a direct effect on my physical health, so if you're worried that you might not be in good enough shape to come along and join us - don't!  We have all found that being a member of chorus has given us major health benefits - both physically and mentally.

Our baritone section leader having a conversation with our Musical Director at our rehearsal venue, Wadebridge Ambulance Hall, North CornwallPractice Makes Perfect!

As with any other skill, if you want to learn to learn to sing well, you can't just expect it to happen without putting the effort in.  Can you expand your vocal range?  Yes.  Can you learn to hold an impressively long note?  Yes.  Can you do either of those things without practice?  Nope!

Our chorus is, as mentioned, a hugely supportive place.  Every section of the chorus has a Section Leader, whose job involves helping new singers get to grips with their part, and our Musical Director and her assistant are also always on hand to answer questions or provide support.  We learn from teach tracks, so there's no need to be able to read sheet music, either.  You'll be given a guest log-in for the members area of our website, where you'll find all the tracks and can listen to your heart's content, practicing along at home.  We'll never expect a new singer to be note and word perfect in their first weeks - you're getting all kinds of information thrown at you and trying to catch up with songs we might have been singing for years, so please don't worry that you'll make a mistake and end up banished for all eternity!  We can assure you that will never happen.

We ask the same thing of all of our members, whether they've been with us five minutes or five years: make sure you're regularly practicing at home and ensure that you listen to your Section Leader/Musical Director's advice.  They will give you tips to make learning the songs easier, they will provide loads of encouragement and if there's something that needs to be fixed, they will let you know (positively and never in front of the whole chorus), so that you're getting the best results possible for yourself and the wider group.  Singing in a choir is a team effort, so it's really important that we all hold up our end of the bargain and practice regularly, taking on board any feedback so that if we're a bit rusty on something one week, we've got it sussed by the next (again, new singers aren't expected to be nailing it in their first few weeks, so don't fret!). 

Oh and the only other request?  Enjoy yourself!  Leave any nerves at the door, lose those inhibitions and allow yourself to have a flipping good time.  Singing should be fun and frankly, if we have a rehearsal without laughter, something has gone wrong!  

So, can anyone sing?  The honest answer is YES.  If you still need convincing, we'll be at Wadebridge Ambulance Hall tonight from 7:15pm.  Come along and see for yourself!  

If you'd like any further details, please feel free to email us or drop us a message via our Facebook page and we'll be happy to get back to you.