Love Life and Barbershop. This is why I started to sing.
I love singing in my local barbershop chorus. It’s changed my life for better and I’m not just a mum anymore, I’m me. I have learnt so much, made wonderful friends and feel now that I am living rather than existing. This article is about why I joined and the fear of going to my first rehearsal.
My Life At The Time.
I wanted to get out of the the house as every day was groundhog day. Everyone taking and nobody thanking. A 24/7 mum with four young kids at home. School runs rain or shine, organising who has to be where and when, cleaning the endless cycle of family mess that never ceases, working hard in my job, nappy changes, baby milk, miserable soap operas on the television… feeling much like a headless chicken who had lost control of who I was. So busy.
I was always that friendly woman with a friendly face who would stop and chat… “so and so’s mum” and “she’s nice”. However, many didn’t know my name, but they knew that I got on with everyone, so that was fine. I invited people round when I could “to play” with my children, but the relationships didn’t blossom much other than being part of a wider circle of friends. I listened to the stories of their marvellous adventures going out to shows, concerts, girly holidays with envy hoping that someday that they might invite me. Behind the smiley face I was feeling insanely lonely and I needed close friends. I didn’t see many adults by day, spending most of my time with babies. Watching everyone “doing this, that and the other” was eating me up. I didn’t want to ask. What if they didn’t like me and made excuses? No. I thought that would be terrible. So I didn’t go there.
Deciding what to do.
I have an active mind. I needed some people that I could share that with who understood. I was fed up with the world of nappies and clothes washing. I needed to escape. So I thought.. its about time to do something for myself. Fed up with being miserable. I have always liked music playing flute, recorder and oboe as an enthusiastic child who lived in the depths of the school music room. Never hugely talented and had to work hard, but I loved the thrill of performing. My favourite thing had always been singing and I always have sung to myself and my children all the time. So I decided to join a choir. Decision made.
It took a little while. Getting the right day and time put me off many places.
A Barbershop Chorus.
Then I saw IT… THE POSTER that was shining out like a beacon in yellow from the others on the notice board at the local playgroup. DO YOU LOVE TO SING? WE NEED EWE!! Barbershop four part close harmony. Sounded interesting. Mr Sandman popped into my mind. Yes, I liked that tune. In fact I much prefer retro music. It was close to where I live and it mentioned fun, friendship, pubs and cake. Exactly what I needed and was looking for. I typed the number with earnest into my phone and saved it quickly whilst hearing someone saying behind me that they would never go because they couldn’t sing. Those waiting agreed with them. Then they talked about the delicious meal that they had been out for the night before. What meal? I knew then that I was on my own.
It took me a few days to summon the courage to dial the number. My nerves nearly stopped me. What if I wasn’t good enough? What if I said something stupid? I spoke to a “man” and told him that it had been over 15 years since I had done any music. I couldn’t remember his name at the end of the phone call and I was trembling so much. So I saved his name as “singing man”. So that was that.
Thursday came. Another endless groundhog day. That afternoon, I straightened my wild frizzy hair because first impressions count. I didn’t want anyone to judge me on first appearances. My husband came home. I moved a lot of things round the house anxiously waiting for the clock to come round to arrive neither too late or too early. I climbed into the car ignoring the baby car seats, heart racing so much I though I would probably explode. I was liberated. I was out of the house ON MY OWN! No kids in tow. Yes, I had to force myself to not make myself sick with worry. I parked in the car park, and saw some friendly looking people getting out of their cars. Were they going my way? THEN I DID IT. I got myself together. Opened the car door and using my skills from work as confidently as I could professionally muster together… I went in.
The double doors were propped open. Inside were a handful of ladies setting up a table of tea and cakes, others with music in hand, some of them I had seen walk in whilst I was still sat down in the car park. They looked up and smiled. A tall gentleman with a warm face came over to me and shook my hand and introduced himself. OMG, I was trying hard now not to ramble and concentrate on what he was saying. Three other new people also were trying out that night, and I was not alone. He mentioned something about what would be going on that night and how the chorus had only been going for a couple of weeks.. or three… Another lady with long brown hair came and said hello, then another, then another. I breathed. I asked them about themselves and they wanted to speak back to me. These people were not scary. Although we still had to get onto the music.
Time to Sing..
Firstly we had to do “warmups”. I hoped it wouldn’t be too embarrassing, so I just copied the people stood either side of me so as not to stick out by making mistakes. I just “knew” that people would be watching. The fear in me was still strong, but I tried not to let it show. Sang a few scales with everyone else and shortly had been allocated my voice part. Baritone. Sounded great even if I didn’t know what it meant at the time, other than it wasn’t a low bass, the tune (lead) or a high harmony part. I now belonged to a section and took my place in the baritones that numbered only three people with myself including the friendly lady with the long brown hair. I was given some music to follow, the pitch pipe was blown…
Then bam it hit me. I could hear and read what I needed to do. I remembered my music training from years ago. Somewhat rusty, but the basics were in place. The harmonies came up around me and I followed the other baritones in four part gorgeous harmony and sang. And I sang and sang. All I can say is wow. Why had I not done this before?
I was home. I was happy. I relaxed and enjoyed.
The ladies and gentleman I met that night have become my friends. Who accept me for who I am, vieware thoughtful and passionate as I am about the music and friendship. We talk, go to concerts, the pub, away together and have our own adventures. It has given me much confidence in many areas of my life and I have found “me” again. I have no idea what my future holds for me, but I know that will include great things as I have the drive and determination to live fully again. It has changed my life.
So, if any of you, out there are stuck in a rut, lonely and want to try something new I would recommend Barbershop. I have gained friends not just in my chorus but all over the world in the year or so I have been into this. It may be really hard and scary to take that first step, but little by little it will come. You don’t even need to be able to read music as we use teacher learning tracks, so as long as you can hold a tune, you will be fine.
And if you don’t want to sing… find something else that you would like to do. We only have one chance of life.