Kay visits Tower Court Singers - part of Musical Connections - at St Joseph Church Hall in Clifton, York
Kay continues her reviews of the vast array of activities and events in York that can help combat loneliness and make it easier for older people to engage with their local community. In this blog she visits Musical Connections – the Tower Court Singers…
I spent a thoroughly uplifting afternoon with the Tower Court Singers. They meet in St Joseph’s Church Hall (Burdyke Ave, Clifton, York YO30 6JX) on Wednesday afternoons during term time, 1.00pm to 2.30pm. (There is no car park, but there is plenty of on-street parking around the church.)
Sessions cost £4.00 per week, payable by cash or card. Anyone can join the group. As one member said ‘You don’t have to be able to sing! You can just come and have fun!’
As soon as I arrived I was offered a cuppa, which is always a good sign! As I drank my tea I chatted to some of the participants. Some had been encouraged to come along by their doctors at Tower Court Surgery. Doctors know that singing has real health benefits. It is a great way to lift the mood and increase lung capacity, and can work alongside medication to maintain physical and mental health. Others had come along to the group to make friends and rekindle their love of singing after retirement.
Abigail, the group leader, told me that the group was one of several run in the York area by the Musical Connections charity. Some of the groups are focussed on rehearsing for concerts, and others provide additional support for people with learning needs, mental health issues and dementia. This group is one of the more ‘social’ groups suitable for anyone who would like to sing, regardless of ability. Abigail described it as a small, friendly and quirky group. Right on cue, I was handed a headband with zebra ears. I looked around and saw that everyone else was wearing jungle animal ears too. Yes, that was definitely quirky! But why? All would be revealed later, apparently.
The session started with a warm-up. Most choirs warm up with scales and tongue-twisters, but this one is different. Abigail’s warm-up exercises were much more fun than that. We danced to get our bodies ready and sang rounds with actions to get our brains working. Everyone joined in with enthusiasm and a lot of laughter.
Next, Abigail handed out the words for the songs. The first one was a beautiful but quite challenging song about York landmarks, written by a man who had been homeless for some time. The group had never sung it before, but they loved it and were keen to perfect it next week. The second song was ‘Wonder’ by Emeli Sande. Never heard of it? Me neither, but it is uplifting and powerful, and the group decided it would be a great song to sing at an Easter event.
We took a break for more tea, biscuits and chat. What I really appreciated about this group was that they were so willing to talk to everyone. Nobody looked lost or left out. Maybe it was Abigail’s warm personality, maybe it was the animal ears, or maybe they were just really lovely people. I was a complete stranger, but I felt very comfortable.
After the break we sang a song from The Lion King. At last the animal ears made sense! It was a tricky song with harmonies and some Zulu lyrics, but Abigail took us through it step by step and we sounded fabulous.
I’ve been a member of a lot singing groups, but I can honestly say I have never giggled as much at a choir practice as I did this afternoon with the Tower Court Singers. Whenever I looked around the circle of participants everyone was smiling. There was a real feeling of positivity in the room. When Abigail asked the group whether in future they would like to sing modern songs, classical songs, songs from other cultures and different genres, the response was a resounding ‘Yes!’. The group were up for anything. Anyone expecting an ‘old time singalong’ would be very surprised by the diverse repertoire of this group.
If you enjoy singing, or you are a HomeInstead care professional with a client who loves singing, give one of the Musical Connections groups a try. Visit the Musical Connections website for details of other group venues. www.musicalconnections.org.uk
For advice about selection of a suitable group, phone 01904 373011
You can see a range of other opportunities to get involved in local activities including singing, exercise or just a meet up for a cuppa. Visit the blog section of our website for a range of blogs that Kay has written after trying out just some of these!