Joining a choir taught me about myself and life

I was never the best singer, but I reckon I enjoyed it more than Christina Aguilera torturing a national anthem, and that was all that mattered.
Publish date:
August 22, 2012
hobbies, fun, singing, karaoke, choirs

I’m always surprised when people are surprised that I’m in a choir. Glee is, for some reason, a huge success, Military Wives blew up the televisions and karaoke has been cool for almost as long as it was naff (right?) so I just assumed everyone would be signing up to sing their little hearts out once a week.

Not. So.

I had singing lessons when I was growing up. Not scary, boring, scalesy, exam-sitting ones where you have to stand up straight and learn Latin and people administered corporal punishment (or maybe that’s Victorian school?) but the type where I picked showtunes from three shelves of musical theatre scores or brought in Celine Dion sheet music (it was the 90s) and just belted it out for half an hour. It was awesome!

I was never the best singer, but I reckon I enjoyed it more than Christina Aguilera torturing a national anthem, and that was all that mattered.

Look how happy I am! That’s the face of a woman who needs to SING!

But then I started a drama degree and met a whole glitterfuck of people who could sing Mein Herr, in tune, while simultaneously shimmying, jazz hands-ing and gluing on their fake eyelashes, and my inferiority complex made me retire my vocal chords.

I find it hard to do things I know I’m not great at. It’s easier to give up than accept: ‘OK, I might not be the best at this, but by God I’m loving it.’

But five years of living in a tiny flat with thin walls so not even singing to myself (much), punctuated by karaoke booth sessions so crazed I would secretly delete other people’s selections, made me realise how I missed the simple pleasure of a good old sing song.

So I joined a choir! It’s great. We do Dusty Springfield, Rihanna, Cheryl Cole (it's NOT a glee club) we have cups of tea and then sing Blur’s Tender and do some stamping. It’s the most fun I’ve had sober and stood up in years… but while I look forward to each Monday rehearsal, being in the choir has taught me so much more than ‘it’s the taking part that counts’.

That, my friends, is a fist of pure emotion.

It turns out I am not a patient person. I always thought I was more of a leader (I know, what a dick), and maybe I hate following, but I start to eat my own face when people don’t learn their parts as quickly as I do, even though I get it wrong most of the time. I hate myself for it, and I’ve realised I’ve been like this my whole life.

I’ve had ‘Nam flashbacks of elbowing a girl in the ribs during a dance show at five years old because she screwed up I’m a Little Teapot. I’m a terrible person! But noticing this abhorrent quality means I now check myself and I’m trying to be much more patient. Growth!

Also, apparently, it’s not all about me? I can remember on my first day at school, a teacher saying: “Ooh, you’re a bossy one, aren’t you”, and that woman, though wrong about American tan tights, was damn right about me. I can’t barge in and take control at choir, the amazing Edie is in charge and I just have to shut up and do what I’m told and that’s humbling. Look, more growth!

Almost definitely performing Meatloaf here.

Most of us don’t do group activities outside of the workplace once we leave school, but getting together with people I don’t know and working towards a common goal has revealed some of the best and worst of my personality.

So I recommend everyone joins a choir, or a marching band, or a bobsled team, a swingers’ scene or the flippin’ Red Arrows, anything where you have to work together to get the job done. You might just learn what a bitch you are.

Am I alone? Have you done a hobby or sport that’s made you face up to your demons? Tell me in the comments!

If you live in North London and want to join a fierce choir (and give me a hand in the alto section… ection… ection – sorry, been practising) hit me up on Twitter at @ToryFrostWrites