On a practical level, not everyone can commit to attending a weekly choir rehearsal.
That's a big part of why Beccy Owen's Pop-Up Choirs (let's go with 'BO-PUC' from herein) was created: to cater for people who want to experience the joy of singing in a group, but who can't necessarily make a regular choir session.
It's also one of the reasons why our events happen in different locations on variable days and times. We're trying to make this as accessible, fresh and inclusive as possible,
The noise in our heads...
Many people, particularly adults, have a substantial level of negative 'head noise' about their own singing voice and how they perceive it to be 'good' or 'bad. This can be a very real barrier for many people.
'What if others laugh at me?'
'What if I really am 'tone deaf'?
'What if I'm the worst singer there?'
'What if I can't remember the words?'
'What if my voice cracks?'
'What if I'm asked to mime!' etc.
The list goes on. And before you know it, you've talked yourself out of singing.
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SINGING BUT FIND YOURSELF ASKING SIMILAR QUESTIONS, THEN BO-PUC EXISTS FOR YOU!
In some ways these feelings of vulnerability around our singing voice are a natural human response: as vocal coach Em Whitfield Brooks puts it 'when we sing we are revealed'.
But it's also exactly this the sense of vulnerability that makes the act of singing (and hearing others do it) such a cool experience. It's an act of generous communication and a willingness to be present. In a group singing situation, this collective willingness is like nothing else you will experience on this earth. It's both our natural human birthright a unique source of super-human power.
Plus (as I'm constantly yawping at my regular choirs) at the end of the day, it's only singing. If it all goes 'horribly wrong', nobody dies.
The Past (...is the past, join the reclamation!)
Some of us may have had discouraging or even damaging experiences when it comes to singing. Our voices may have been undermined and/or critiqued by well-meaning friends and family who have made comments and 'jokes' at our expense (shame on them!)
We may even have been told to mime in the school choir (I've met so many people who happened to! It's not your fault! You just needed a different group and different direction!)
And yet, despite all these negative experiences, many people still have a strong urge to sing. To me, that kind of resilience and optimism is quite wonderful. Makes me go all gooey,
In Beccy Owen's Pop-Up Choirs everyone is good enough, every voice is welcome regardless of what you (or anyone else) might say about it. The past is the past and this is a new day. Time for some reclamation...
Bulldozing myths, reclaiming the voice
Every culture on Earth sings as a means of celebration, connection, narration and identification, creating harmony despite differences, and discovering new power and new confidence in the singing of songs together.
Yet in the West, over the last few generations, a cultural myth has emerged around singing. As music has become more commercialised and compartmentalised, as reality TV has reached it's grotesque, gladiatorial zenith and as education has become more industrialised, we've managed to turn music and singing into a bizarre competition. Which has led to a relatively new but dominating idea that some people 'can' sing and some people 'can't'.
What a load of balderpoop.
The core ethic of BO-PUC is to joyfully bulldoze through that dominant message of 'talented vs. untalented'. This myth has been robbing people of their voice for too long. Time for a reclamation.
I believe that it's not amazing singing that makes humans amazing. It's the act of singing itself.
Over the course of my 20 years working in community music I have seen thousands of people transformed, uplifted and empowered by music's powers, powers they didn't know they already possessed, powers that were already there, waiting to be given permission to find their breath. Quite literally. And all these people had do was to have the audacity to show up and have a sing.
Oh, and it's also a really good laugh, too.
- Preach Ends -