I’ve been a member of Rock Choir for over 5 years, and yesterday thought it was about time I tidied up my file of words for the songs I’ve learned and sung during that time. It totals 68 to date, and that includes the 3 songs I’ve learned in the past five weeks, ready for polishing and perfecting for gigs our choir will perform in over the Christmas period.
What intrigues me is how I – and other Rock Choir members – learn the words, the notes and the dance moves that go with the songs. We don’t have music, we listen and memorise and make personal notes on our song sheets. We need to get the tune in place, along with the words, and with the guidance of our very professional choir leader, something magical happens. It all starts to fall in place, the words and tune take root on a deep level and when the moves are added, it’s not too difficult to associate music and words with moves. Somehow it all comes together.
It’s not always that easy though – it depends on the lyrics, some of which are pure poetry. Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah is powerful and very moving to sing. In the past year that has become a much-loved song in our repetoire, and it has a logic and story which made it easy to learn.
Classic 60s California Dreamin’ was another easy one to learn, but the 4 and sometimes 5 part arrangements we sing add a challenging twist, so what starts off sounding like a walk in the park is actually more difficult. All good stuff though as it keeps singers on their toes.
There are a few songs I’ve not warmed to. Katy Perry’s Firework has the strangest, illogical line up of words which never really tripped off the tongue….”Do you ever feel like a plastic bag…” No. Nothing I could relate to there.
Rock Choir is a national choir, with something like 26,000 members. I belong to the Cheshire choir, where we perform locally for charity and community events, sometimes singing in the street, in a care home, or in a field in a country park to support an event like a charity run. The Manchester Marathon is a fun gig to do; as well as singing we applaud and encourage the runners, who sometimes stop off to join in with us before running off again. We even had 2 policemen joining in with us this year!
We’ve recorded at the famous Abbey Road studios in London, sung at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester and at Chester cathedral, and this summer we performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Next year we’ll be performing at the Liverpool Philharmonic.
68 songs later, I’m very pleased I joined, but I sometimes suffer from an alarming bout of earworm when I’m learning something new!
Abbey Road and Edinburgh Fringe