Singing in a choir does you good! It lifts your spirits, helps your breathing, and makes you lots of friends! I’ve been singing since primary school, when we sang from the BBC songbook ‘Singing Together’ I think it was called. We went in for competitions, and it started me on a love of singing. I also sang in church but they never seemed to recognise my talents – sigh! Possibly because that church didn’t have a choir. But it showed me how enjoyable it could be!
At secondary school, I seemed to be concentrating on other things, but when I started nursing, I discovered a Nurses and Doctors’ choir and we had concerts and sang around the wards at Christmas. My mother was a good singer, her favourite was ‘All in the April Evening’, but I remember she was not too keen on ‘Adam Lay Y-bounden’! We even made a record and I still have a copy! We had a series of conductors, mostly doctors, and they were very inspirational. Sadly, that choir lapsed and I went back to singing in a church choir. I had learnt to read music for the piano, so was able to learn new hymns and songs, and develop a repertoire.
After I was married we moved to a house in the country and I discovered a choir called The Killinchy Singers, and learned more exotic pieces there, like Panis Angelicus. We sang great carols at Christmas concerts in places like Downe Cathedral, so atmospheric! Then we moved away from there and the church we joined had a very enthusiastic conductor, who also taught music. I learnt a lot from him, but sadly he died. As well as the church services, we did quite a few concerts, and musical evenings. But a situation developed where a certain group of people there preferred ‘modern’ songs, and this influence took over and the choir disbanded. Sometimes I think I went to church just for the music, and I missed it a lot. So when as a widow by then, I met a man in another local church which had a good choirmaster, I moved there, and that was good, until he was grabbed by a big city church and moved away. Well they say change is good for you, and I had by then joined another choir called The Corrymeela Singers, connected with the Corrymeela Community, involved in Cross-community work in Northern Ireland. We did charity concerts and I developed my repertoire even more. They too disbanded and some of us joined with another similar choir, Voices Together, which I now enjoy.
Over the years my voice has changed, from soprano as a young girl, and now alto since having asthma which lowered my voice a bit, and being asked to sing alto because I could read music well, and so learn new pieces quickly. This I think stimulates the brain, and hopefully prevents Alzheimer’s Disease developing. And long may we all keep singing!