Sunday, January 22, 2012

We’re all equal here: singing together is the great leveller

Singing together or being in a choir is one of the most egalitarian experiences we can have.

lego people

Photo by wynlok

It doesn’t matter how much you earn, what your job is, where you went to school or who you know. Just add your voice to the overall sound.

getting to know you

Many workshop leaders begin their session by going round the group and getting everyone to introduce themselves.

Once I was in a workshop and by the time it got round to me, I’d discovered that the room was full of professional singers, choral directors, and workshop leaders.

I freaked!

From that point on it was very hard for me to let my voice out and fully engage with the workshop. I felt inadequate, out of my depth and inferior to the other participants (to avoid this read How to be a confident singer).

Which is why I don’t do the introduction thing in my workshops.

a room full of strangers, all equal

I once ran a singing workshop for a large corporation. I walked into a room full of people not knowing who was the managing director, who was the secretary and who was the person who emptied the bins.

It didn’t matter to me because everyone there was equal and had come to contribute their voice to the overall sound. The only distinction needed was whether somebody preferred to sing higher or lower when we came to the harmonies.

Singing together is the great leveller.

There are not many other group encounters in life where your status, name, background, wealth, gender, race, education, class, etc. don’t matter.

it’s not who you are, it’s your singing voice we want!

Think about when you go to a party and don’t know anybody. The first question is usually “What do you do?” or maybe “Where do you come from?” In a choir or singing workshop that is irrelevant.

Of course, once the singing is under way and the break comes, you can ask those kinds of questions and find out what someone’s name is or even their job. But by then it doesn’t really matter. You’ve already created something beautiful together as a coherent team of human beings.

I often find in workshops that people skip the “What do you do?” questions any way and the talk usually turns to music, which choir someone is in, have they done much singing before, etc.

In my choirs I’ve had professors, shop assistants, management consultants, single parents, scientists, artists, unemployed people, disabled people, heterosexuals, children, and even dogs!

It often takes many weeks before I discover anything about an individual’s background, but by then I’m already friends with their personality and singing voice.

The rest doesn’t matter.

related posts

You might also find these related posts interesting:

A choir is a shining example of the perfect community

Everybody has a place in the choir

The singers shall remain nameless

what’s YOUR experience?

Have you been in workshops which started with introductions? Did it make a difference to your confidence? Do you know the backgrounds of everyone in your choir? Was it a surprise when you eventually got to know them? Or maybe you’ve still no idea!

Do leave a comment and let us know what your experiences are. Thanks.


Chris Rowbury's website:

Chris Rowbury


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