A group of islanders has come together to set up a new choir that lets go of expectation, pressure and skill… and prioritises singing purely for the feel-good factor.
The 'Feel Good Choir' meets every other Wednesday at St. Saviour’s Church.
As Joanne Preston, one of its members, explained, it is quite unique as it is open to “all abilities, ages and genders”.
Pictured: The choir meets every other Wednesday at St. Saviour's Church.
“Originally, the choir was an idea of one of our friends,” said Joanne.
"She loved singing but she wasn’t good at it and she said, ‘I would like to be in a choir who had no expectations, with no plans to perform, where we would just sing for ourselves'.”
“I don’t think the others would mind me saying so, but we are terrible singers!” laughed Joanne.
“There are a couple of good singers, but they are in the minority. It really does not matter. It’s about coming together, singing a song and having some fun.
“It’s a very welcoming group and I hope everyone that comes in feels that. There is no pressure on how you sound!”
Launched last year in mid-summer, the choir now includes members whose ages range from 23, all the way to their mid-70s.
“The average age is in the 50s,” Joanne said. “We are always very female-heavy, as these things tend to be, so it would be nice to see a few more male faces.”
Whilst the Feel Good Choir is less concerned about sounding right than helping people feel good, it is led by two music graduates, Abby Brown (22) and Charles Blackwell (23).
They both completed their music degrees and met at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute.
Pictured: Abby and Charles both completed their music degrees and met at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute.
Abby, who is from London, moved to Jersey with Charles, who was born and raised in the island, when they finished their degrees.
“They are there to guide our singing and explain the basics of where to breathe, and where to sing up and down,” Joanne said.
The singers are keen to find more recruits to join them. In addition to being open to all abilities, they sing all musical genres with Abby and Charles consulting the members to see what they wish to sing.
“The more people can come the more the choir can be successful,” Joanne said. “You do not have to be able to sing, there is no audition, you can just turn up and have a go.
“We sing at St. Saviour’s Church. They let us use the space for free, which is great. Singing in a church, the acoustics are really incredible. It’s a really nice space and we are very lucky.”
After hosting a Christmas dinner last year, the singers are also keen to organise more social events for everyone to join in. The social aspect of the sessions is just one of the benefits of singing in a choir.
“This week, there was a woman who had arrived in Jersey only a couple of weeks ago,” Joanne explained.
“I had boosted a post to get new members and she saw it. She had just got out of work and came along in the hope of meeting new people."
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Pictured: The choir sings tunes from a variety of musical genres. This week's song was 'Don't go breaking my heart'.
She continued: “Singing together does really lift your spirits, it’s incredible how energised you feel. I was really surprised at how it lifted my mood.
"Obviously, I had heard about it, the benefit of the community and singing together but I had been a bit dismissive about it. But afterwards, I thought, ‘I get it, I really understand the benefits.'
“We sing in a circle so we are looking at each other, we are laughing and smiling. It does lift your spirits… as long as you do not mind making a fool of yourself!”
Every time they meet, the singers also host a voluntary collection. When they reach £300, they then vote on which charity the money should go to.
They have previously donated money to Mind Jersey and will next support a local cancer charity.
Originally, the Feel Good Choir had no plans to perform, but Joanne revealed there have been requests for some performances.
“We are nowhere near ready yet,” she said.
“When you are not a great singer, you want to be able to sing without judgment and singing with a group of people is so uplifting. Beyond school, we do not really get the opportunity to do that. We all love singing but we would be to nervous to join a choir unless we didn’t have to be any good."
Joanne said: “There are some people who have come from other choirs who required a bit more commitment to perform. There’s no pressure here, but you can really hear the people who can sing, they sound amazing! The rest of us are just bumbling along, singing as loud as we can!
“You’ve got to remember to sing as loud as you can. It’s not about judgment! It really does lift your spirit. It definitely helps make you feel better.”
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