As children, we were encouraged to do something new every day. This might have been experiments in a science lesson, making music or reading a new book. At college and university there were cultural and activist groups as well as a whole host of interesting things to get involved in.
The something happened and we became adults. For many, this means getting some sort of tedious 9-5 job which is about as rewarding as going on a skiing holiday and coming home with several broken limbs. After a few decades most people are given a carriage clock before retiring into an even more dull and obscure, pointless existence. And then you are boxed up and that’s that.
This is exactly why at some point before you lose too many marbles it’s worth joining a choir. But not just any choir.
You see the issue here is that your brain is a bit like a muscle. And like any muscle it needs exercise. Yes, there is ample research which shows that learning helps build neuron connections and can stave off diseases like Parkinson’s. But there is a lot more to learning new things than just making the brain stronger. The act of learning actually makes us happier.
So join a choir and you will be happy? Well not necessarily. Today there are more choirs than ever before – in fact singing in a choir is now second only in popularity to sport. The thing is like anything in life there are good choirs, and there are bad choirs. The problem is knowing which is which before you commit!
In my view the most important thing any choir can do is learn something new. Yes it’s important to have a staple repertoire of songs which are well known, but for concerts and events you need to present at least some new material. Otherwise quite frankly what’s the point?
It always amazes me how many choirs are so stuck in their ways and indeed arrogant enough to think they can charge audience members to hear the same songs they performed last year. Imagine if Apple adopted this policy. Each year they could launch a new iPhone which was exactly the same as the previous iPhone but ask that you paid the usual £1200 to purchase it. Would anyone really be stupid enough to buy that?
I think not. And so when you consider joining a choir, it’s a good idea to do some research into their concert programmes. Otherwise you could spend the next 20 years just singing the same songs week in week out and presenting the same concert in the same venue to the same audience.
Jules Addison is Musical Director for Tetbury Community Choir and Blue Notes Jazz Group. Alongside this he directs Choirs across the UK and Europe with JAM Music Group and is one half of JAM Duo alongside Anne-Marie Humphries. Jules and Anne-Marie are two professional musicians who first met when they ran a choir together. Since then their musical careers have grown in leaps and bounds and they are sought after both as Performers as well as Choral Innovators.