I was never trained musically – in fact, at school, I couldn’t stand music. Oh, if only one could turn back the clocks …
I always sang or hummed, and I mean always. My parents used to laugh and joke about it. “Christopher never stops humming or drumming!” I only let my voice out very occasionally ‘officially’ and that was to sing a solo in primary school and the other time was to sing a version of “Feed the World” when I was in Sixth Form (with about 100 other kids). But I knew I loved singing and people used to tell me I had a good voice – I just never did anything with it for 45 years. Turns out, it was a bit like having a sports car in the garage all that time and only sitting inside it once in a while but never driving it on the road …
Until 2010, when I went along with a friend and joined Pete Linnett’s choir in Langport. And the rest as they say is history. I never stopped wanting to sing. I couldn’t decide which part to sing (SAT or B – I tried them all!) and I was a voracious learner – I lapped it up. During the first summer break in 2010, I said to a few friends, “I don’t want to stop singing over the summer – shall we just meet up and carry on?” And that was how the Summer Sings were born – in a pub with about 16 mates. Next year, I did it properly and hired a village hall and 40 people turned up, expecting me to lead (and teach) them!! So, I taught them songs I’d heard and sung all the parts for – I did it all from memory (like I say, I never learned to read music … ) and the next year 80 turned up!
Singing has helped me overcome a fairly debilitating breathing anomaly I’ve had ever since my teenage years. It’s severe hyperventilation; I call it my ‘bad breathing’ and the worst attacks I’ve had have resulted in trips to hospital with me about to pass out. Obviously I know it’s an anxiety-led condition but just knowing that isn’t enough to deal with it. And I’m afraid I haven’t been able to figure it out with counselling over all these years. But since I started singing, I haven’t had another attack – it’s a miracle cure.
Unfortunately for me, I suffered a traumatic life event and singing had to go a bit on the back burner, and then work got busier so I took a year off from the Summer Sings. But I did form my small performing a cappella group Somer Singers and we’ve gone from strength to strength ever since. While I was working away in Cardiff I formed the Cardiff University Staff Choir, which I later handed over to Sue Ellar and she is now its multi-talented leader.
And in 2019 I’ve taken over the Ile Valley Singers choirs (one in Ilminster and the other is a village choir based in sleepy Isle Abbotts) and I’m having a wonderful time. So, as I approach my 10-year anniversary in singing (and it’s flown) I’m probably one of the most well known choir leaders around these here parts and I’ve loved meeting every one of you and singing with you. If you haven’t sung with me yet, what are you waiting for! Come and join me at one of my groups – I can’t wait to meet you.
If you’d like to collaborate with me, please do get in touch – I love working with people and I like to think I’ve still got plenty of humility because I am truly in awe of you music readers who can look at a load of dots and squiggles and turn it into sound! If you know Tony Backhouse, you have an idea of my teaching style – I work fast, without notes, build songs up and let them flow without stressing too much about correctness to begin with and I don’t use the score, of course.
I’m very happy to coach fellow leaders on the art of workshop leadership, helping you to use my techniques to engage, enthuse and energise any group from large to small.
I look forward to many more years of catching up with the life I should always have been living in song.
Yours in harmony,