Sunday, January 13, 2013

Help someone to start singing this year — maybe even you!

I’m probably preaching to the converted here as I guess most of you reading this already sing regularly.

photo by T Sundup

So how about getting someone else to start singing in the coming year? If we all introduce one new person to the joys of singing in a group, that’s a lot of people singing together!

find a suitable candidate

First identify the right person.

It’s probably someone you know who loves music generally, maybe even goes to concerts from time to time, and who you might catch humming or even singing to themselves now and then.

Or it might be someone you know who loves to sing along loudly along with the radio or CD in their car when they know nobody is listening.

Or it might be someone who comes along to all your choir concerts and watches you in envy as you’re up there enjoying yourself.

Or perhaps it’s one of your family who needs a bit of encouragement. I had a non-singing dad bring his 14-year-old son to one of my singing days. He had heard him sing in the shower and wanted to encourage him. I don’t think the boy was that impressed, but the father had an amazing time and went off and joined a choir!

Whoever you pick, you’ll need a strategy.

choose a strategy

Here are 10 things to try:
  1. take them along to join your choir – if you’re already a regular singer in a choir, take them along to one session for a taster. You can hold them by the hand (literally if necessary!) and introduce them to the joys of singing in a choir.
  2. treat them to a singing workshop – find a suitable singing workshop near you and pay for them, perhaps as a birthday present. Go along with them or they might duck out at the last minute!
  3. go to a folk club and sing a song with them – if someone you know loves to sing but not in public, you could work up a song together at home until you’re both comfortable, then sing it at your local sing-around at the folk club. No need to stand up in front of everyone. Just sing from where you’re sitting. There will be two of you so not too much pressure and you can stick to unison singing.
  4. go to a karaoke session together – make it a laugh. Maybe get a whole crowd together. A bit of alcoholic lubrication might help too!
  5. take them to a concert – many people still think of singing concerts as being for old fuddy duddies and limited to Western classical music. Choose a concert which really excites you and take them along and share your passion – whether it’s madrigals, world music or songs from the shows.
  6. buy a voucher for a singing lesson – some people have lovely voices, but still feel inadequate. Treat them to an evaluation singing lesson. Find a gentle teacher who will put them through their paces and point out all the good things about their singing voice.
  7. get them to read: Why singing is bad for you (and 7 reasons why you shouldn’t stop doing it) or How to enjoy singing and not worry what others think or There are plenty of good reasons to sing or “Everyone can sing” – what the hell does that mean??!! or How to be a confident singer or You are not alone – most people in your choir think they can’t sing well.
  8. have some mates round for a sing-song – even Brian Eno does this! Get a few friends round for a social evening. Take some hints from Get your family singing this Christmas. Make up some harmonies or create some cheesy dance moves for each song. Keep it light and fun.
  9. book a slot at an open mic session – there’s nothing like a deadline to focus the mind! You can help them work on a solo (with or without an instrument), work up a duet, or get a group together. Keep it simple and don’t set the bar too high.
  10. help them find a singing holiday – there are loads of singing weekends and weeks out there. It’s a great way into singing and you get to meet lots of (nice) new friends. Try, Authentic Adventures, Singing for Larks, my own singing weekends, Candy Verney, Sing Away and Sing your socks off. That should be enough to get you started! The beauty of these is that it’s not all about singing: you get to visit lovely places too.
Of course, the aim is for them to not just leave it at these one-offs, but to turn singing into a regular habit. You can help them with that too.

what if I don’t sing?

Even though you read this blog, it might be that you don’t sing regularly. So why not make it your New Year resolution? There are plenty of hints here on how you might enlist a friend to help you.

This blog itself is also a valuable resource where you can find articles on How to tell if you’re singing in tune, Learning to love the sound of your own voice, How to make a song your own and What’s the worse that can happen? Dealing with performance nerves.

You can find many more useful articles by using the search box at the top right of the blog’s website.
And ask yourself this question: “If not now, when?”

any more ideas?

I’d love to hear if you have any more ideas for how to help people start singing. Or maybe you have a success story of helping one of your friends start. Do drop by and leave a comment. I’d love to hear from you.

Chris Rowbury's website:

Chris Rowbury


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