Inside the mind of a writer www.scskillman.co.uk

What or who would inspire you to start singing?

Gareth Malone, British choirmaster and broadcaster (credit: www.independent.co.uk)

Gareth Malone, British choirmaster and broadcaster (credit: http://www.independent.co.uk)

Gareth Malone, self-described as an “animateur, presenter and populariser of choral singing” (Wikipedia)

Even if you’ve spent years of your life  thinking  you “can’t sing”?

And there are many people with this gift – I’ve met quite a few in my own life of singing – but today I celebrate Gareth Malone.

What a difference Gareth has made to the popular perception of choral singing, here among the British people!

In the UK, according to a recent article in The Independent:

A nationwide choral singing boom is giving fresh meaning to the sound of music, with new choirs popping up at the fastest rate in decades.

Increasing numbers of people are starting their own vocal groups, inspired by the nation’s new choirmaster-in-chief Gareth Malone, ….  because they want to boost their wellbeing, mental or physical.

I’ve sung in choirs since I was very young. I was first introduced to it by my father, a great choral singer himself – he held high-value currency, as a tenor.

I sing in a number of different groups, and I love singing! But, even with all that experience, I would still love to sing under the direction of Gareth Malone! Perhaps one day I’ll achieve that wish!

I belong to the Warwick & Kenilworth Choral Society. Right now, we’re rehearsing to perform Bach’s Mass in B Minor in Leamington Spa in March.

Personally, I can’t get enough of singing! So now I’ve also joined a local Community Choir in Leamington Spa called “Songlines”.

“Songlines” is one of many community choirs. They’re all linked into the Natural Voice Network.

In a “community choir”,  the singers stand in a circle, without having to follow printed music, and the leader is at the centre, teaching the lines of music by singing them, and the choir members pick up the music from this. The lines of music seem very easy to sing, you master them quickly, then the fun comes when the leader directs you to sing it, perhaps, as a round, accompanied by movement. He may divide the choir into 4-8 groups and get each group to stagger their entries.

The sound of the voices blending is magical. And this – with the right direction – is really very easily achieved.

The Guardian article above refers to “wellbeing, mental or physical”. To that I want to add “spiritual wellbeing”.

Many different spiritual traditions have recognised this, and make full use of it.

Bliss through sound, using the human voice, is part of the Buddhist and the Yoga traditions. Years ago I went to the Buddhist Centre in Bethnal Green, East London.  There I joined weekly sessions of Buddhist chanting: an experience of joy and deep peace.

The Yoga tradition, too, has fully understood the healing power of sound, incorporating yogic humming and chanting into their practice.

Taize prayer , in the Christian tradition, also uses beautiful harmony singing, to achieve a similar sense of upliftment, and connection with God. I do this, too, every month,  at St Peter’s Catholic Church Centre in Leamington Spa.

Of course few experiences of body, mind and spirit can equal that of singing with a large choral society in Bach’s B Minor Mass –  and, indeed, any other major choral work. Being part of this grand swell of sound can lift you right out of this world.

So I celebrate Gareth Malone for spreading wide the love of choral singing and the knowledge that we can all sing – whether or not we currently believe so.

What about you? Do you believe you “can’t sing?” Has Gareth Malone encouraged you to believe otherwise – or perhaps to join a singing group yourself? Or maybe you’ve already experienced joy through singing in a group, large or small? Have you been inspired by the work of Gareth Malone? Let me know your experiences – I’d love to hear them!

You may enjoy these other posts by SC Skillman Blog on the subject of singing:

Susan Boyle

Heavenly choirs

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Comments on: "People of Inspiration Part 6 – Gareth Malone, The Love of Singing and the Rediscovery of the Power of Sound" (7)

  1. … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More: scskillman.com/2013/02/04/people-of-inspiration-part-6-gareth-malone-the-love-of-singing-and-the-rediscovery-of-the-power-of-sound/ […]…

  2. Comment received from Bruce Knight:

    ” Some community choir leaders have mixed feelings about Gareth
    > Malone. We can’t deny that he has caused a great interest in singing,
    > and community choirs are thriving, but I for one have issues with the
    > “competition” side of singing that seems inevitable once TV gets
    > involved. For 2 weeks preceding his latest series, the BBC showed the
    > same trailer dozens and dozens of time: a close-up of Gareth saying
    > “I only want the best singers!” which I think sends out a negative
    > message. It’s a shame, as his heart is in the right place.”

    Thank you, Bruce,a very interesting angle on the subject.

  3. Comment received by Fran Hill: “I love Gareth Malone. Such a nice chap, and is doing so much for people, encouraging them to sing their hearts out.” Thank you Fran!

  4. Julia Gardner Brisbane Australia said:

    Yes could not agree more Gareth Malone is so inspirational. I have watched several of his programmes here in Australia (although only shown late at night 930pm!) and have spoken to many people about him and all agree he’s superb.e need more people like him in the world!!

    • Glad you like my Gareth Malone post, Julia! I was going to write a post about the general subject of how the English love choral singing, then came upon the article in The Independent about Gareth Malone, & found the points made there fascinating.I realised that he has done a great service to people, particularly exploding the myth of “not being able” to sing, which many people do hide behind.So I suppose what Gareth Malone has done, re. singing, has much wider implications as well, for those who live with negative presumptions about what they can and cannot do.

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