Being born early 60s and the youngest of four, I was surrounded by music and singing – and it was a broad mix too.
My dad’s a classical buff and is still able to answer nearl
y all the classical questions on “Universally Challenged”. He’s also able to nail quite a few of the scientific and literary ones, so I’m left with having a stab at popular culture questions. He beats me and he’s nearly 95!
With my three older siblings, I grew up with Hendrix, Motown, Reggae, Beatles, Stones, Beach Boys, Morrison, Dylan, Floyd etc, etc. I would even dance around to Frank Zappa but Captain Beefheart was a weirdness too far. By the time I came into my own it was the 70s, so I brought into that mix The Bay City Rollers, Manilow, Osmonds, Rubettes, Mud and Showaddywaddy – none of them went down well!
It was my late mother who was the real singing influence in my life. In fact, she and my dad met through singing. She was in a choir with her best friend Marion and her brother (my dad), would walk them both home afterwards through the streets of Belfast. Mum and dad’s first official date happened the same night Belfast sustained the worst bombing of the Second World War. Not sure what conclusion I draw from that – I shudder to think Hitler was, in some way, responsible for me being here!
We moved here in the mid 60s and mum immediately found a church, joining the choir as an alto. I would sometimes join her in the altos. She knew so many Irish ballads and other songs, and was always singing or humming around the house.
Ironically, the only music I didn’t get a lot of exposure to was jazz. Occasionally, there would be a visit to my dad’s cousin and he would play his saxophone for us. It seemed so loud and, as a youngster, I struggled to grasp any sort of melody and I certainly couldn’t sing or dance to it! He would also put on “Cleo and Johnny” but that was wasted on me – remember, I was into The Bay City Rollers at the time, enough said!
So, fast forward to 2013 and I find myself looking for a singing teacher/coach. I too was always singing - in the car, around the house, but particularly to my dog. However, he would look at me as if to say “I’m a rescue dog, do you not think I’ve suffered enough?”.
I found a chap locally through the internet, and he made some song choices. I worked on them for a couple of months but started to think a choir would be the ticket. I’ve never really been a joiner of things and I liked the idea of singing with a social side to it and, if I was lucky, perhaps make some new friends as well.
The coach told me I was a soprano, so off I went to find a choir and joined the sops. I found a few of the top notes a stretch, but otherwise it felt great. I made some good friends there and we still meet up regularly. However, a year or so later I wanted to try something different. A friend suggested the Godalming Jazz Choir. That’s an interesting trio of words I thought. I live in Woking so ‘Godalming’ is easy; I know what a ‘choir’ is obviously, but the middle word made me ponder. I decided to ignore it and went along as a soprano. I am so glad I did because it’s been one of the best things to happen to me in a very long time.
In November last year, I started having lessons with Phoebe. After warbling my way up and down scales and arpeggios gasping for breath, Phoebe confirms that I’m not a soprano, I’m an alto with tenoristic tendencies! But as I’d learnt the soprano parts for GJC, I stayed put.
Having now joined GuJC, I find myself on the ‘dark’ side of the room with the basses and tenors, which is fun! Although rehearsals and singing with Phoebe and Alex is always fun, no matter where you stand - I even find myself smiling as I walk up the stairs!!!
A year later and I feel blessed to have found my voice and met so many wonderful people. I can’t wait for Sunday and Wednesday evenings. My voice is improving all the time and, most important of all, my dog is so much happier!
Liz W xxx