It’s hard to believe the first Pop-Up term of 2013 is almost over – just two more weeks, then a break, and then we’ll be into summer rehearsals! And…and then it will be warm? Right? Yes? Because summer never seems further away than when the entire choir comes into rehearsal dressed like polar explorers, so liberal amounts of warming ales and food have been accompanying our Tuesday sing-songs.
And there are even more Poppers following auditions at the end of January. The Pop-Up ranks swelled with newbies (including yours truly – hello!), spread pretty much equally through sops, alto ones and twos, and the baritone squad, who are displaying some excellent beard work at the moment – well done chaps.
A combination of new year plans and spring cleaning has meant new ‘choir parents’ (not literally, although a Pop-Up baby is indeed imminent) coming forward to do useful things for the choir, from sorting out gigs to leading songs or doing admin – there is always someone who secretly loves a bit of admin.
Thinking of the newcomers and those in the choir who have been singing since Pop-Up formed three years ago, there’s obviously something about singing in a group that appeals. Something beyond Glee, or Smash, or Gareth Malone and his good works with military ladies and schools. There is a lovely piece in Stylist magazine today about the rise of the choir, which goes into all sorts of detail about what’s involved in ensemble singing, but also really captures why it makes so many people happy.
This section ran particularly true. It’s not just the beer and crisps making us perk up, or Dom’s warm-up exercises, it’s actual bona fide SCIENCE! Oxytocin! Not just found in cuddles or sex. Amazing.
There is also the community aspect to consider. Marchington recently gave a lecture at the Royal College of Psychiatrists explaining that the structure of singing in a choir (listening, repetition, learning harmonies, preparing for regular concerts, having a drink afterwards) provides a haven of certainty at a time when many of our lives don’t feel certain at all. “In our increasingly robotic lives, where we’re more likely to communicate by email and text message than face to face, singing provides a more natural way to communicate. Singing is a therapeutic tool that promotes happiness, calmness and a profound sense of achievement,” she explains. Indeed, a recent study from the University of Stockholm showed that singing increases the levels of oxytocin, the bonding hormone, in both men and women.
Consider that post-choir buzz coupled with the adrenaline rush of being faced with something frightening, such as performing solo, and succeeding, and you can see how choir singing becomes a draw. “The best thing about our choir is the women involved; students, lawyers, wives, mothers, artists and teachers,” says Gaggle member Jade Coles. “But being in our choir has never been about the day job. It provides adventure; a break away from the usual responsibilities of work and the chance to bond with people you never thought you would even meet. Think of the clubs you were in as a child – Brownies, Guides, netball – being a part of a choir is a little like that. It’s a regular hang-out, with great people and a clear sense of purpose, direction and goals. A bunch of truly unique personalities, living outside of the comfort zone.” Not much about that says Songs Of Praise.
A therapeutic tool that promotes happiness, calmness and a profound sense of achievement. A regular hang-out, with great people and a clear sense of purpose, direction and goals. A bunch of truly unique personalities, living outside of the comfort zone. And that, really, is why we all love being part of Pop-Up. (Well. That and the Black Prince’s chips really are very good.)
Next gigs: April 11 at The Good Ship in Kilburn, and April 20 in Brixton Village East xx