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Planning Retirement Online

Out of the box - Joining a choir

                                            July 2009


This is our regular OUT OF THE BOX feature where we give suggestions on different things to try.     

If you have tried something unusual or different, tell us all about it - and send in a photograph as well if you can – so that we can share your experiences with others.



This month……

choirJoining a choir

At our age, most of us had singing as a school subject. In those days it was normal for a class to spend a lesson singing various songs under the direction of a music teacher and accompanied by a pianist.

Once adult though, unless we are some of the lucky few who have a real enthusiasm and talent for singing, most of us give up group singing. It is a shame because you don’t have to be particularly good at singing to make a real contribution to a choir and the benefits you can get from group singing are immense.

Various choirs and authorities state benefits from joining a choir include team working; social skills, aiding memory, aiding learning ability, helping time management skills, problem solving and experience in handling stressful situations during performances.

All that may well be true, but for many the real benefit of singing is undertaking a healthy exercise involved in lovely music with a group of like minded people. Exercise? Yes, singing is an excellent way to exercise and improve your lung capacity; and music is known to help reduce blood pressure and calm stress.

Some people put all sorts of obstacles in the path of singing; worry they may be out of tune, concern that they can’t read music or they will be a beginner among professionals.

None of this matters as there are choirs and singing groups to suit absolutely everyone. Even better, there are choirs in almost all areas of the UK, and there is also a huge choice in the type of choirs and music.

Most areas will have a range of active choirs that usually meet weekly in a town or village hall. Newcomers are always welcome but it is worth checking on the standards with the secretary – some will be more suitable for real beginners than others. Also think about what sort of music would be most appealing for you – there are modern choirs, gospel choirs, church choirs, and music groups that also incorporate singing – there really is a plethora of clubs across the county.

Barbershop singing is one type of music that has been growing steadily in popularity over recent years. This is a style of unaccompanied vocal music with a lead and varying harmonising. Most cover a wide selection of traditional and modern music with understandable lyrics and easily singable melodies. Barbershop singing is hugely popular with men and women of all ages and for the really keen, there are competitions and performances to train for. Your local group will be very happy to give you more information, see

British Choirs on the Net is a good site as it lists 2326 choirs around the country and also gives lots of additional information – see

Sing for Pleasure ( is an interesting site that gives details of a range of terrific activities to get frustrated Pavarottis out there singing! They organize day, weekend and week long events ranging from relaxed singing days to courses with more challenging repertoire. They also run regional singing houseparties and fun festivals and some courses include an element of vocal training to help people make the most of their abilities.

Singing is a healthy and greatly underestimated activity and of course it is free. It really is a perfect hobby for everyone.

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