Jim Duffy: New member blog post
Updated: Mar 12, 2020
I've enjoyed singing in choirs for over 10 years but my interest in singing and music goes back much further. I've played guitar and sang since I was a teenager, but I never thought myself good enough to perform solo, except for friends and family. Choirs allow you to perform a range of great Choral music from down the ages to the present day, without necessarily having outstanding vocal chords. I find the discipline of learning and singing in harmony to be very stimulating. Often the sound you experience from within the choir, knowing you are contributing to the overall effect, is the best part. Many local and Community Choirs take on ambitious works and perform them very well. But, as with many activities where you have honed your skills a little, you sometimes need a fresh challenge.
I was lucky enough to find that challenge last summer when my local choir held a joint concert with Sound Company in the Spire Church in Farnham. They performed an interesting range of music, mostly modern, with more ambitious arrangements than I was used to. Part of me thought it sounded too difficult, but another part wanted to give it a try. To me, it just sounded like a great set of tunes sung A cappella in harmony. The connection with Barbershop singing never occurred to me, even after a whole concert. I'd always associated Barbershop with 1920's comical songs sang by four guys with moustaches and straw hats. To my surprise, it turns out that this particular style of four-part harmony can be sung by a Chorus, and by mixed groups, so my preconceptions were very far from the truth.
I've been with them since last September and I have really enjoyed it. I was identified as a Baritone by the Chorus Director and had to work quite hard at first to learn the repertoire. This part is sometimes tricky because it isn't always tuneful on its own. However, the chord notes are often the vital link that binds the harmony together. Whilst it helps, you don't need to read music well, because we are provided with very good "teach tracks" with our own parts sung separately and together so that you can rehearse at home very effectively. Members have access to them from anywhere through this web-site.
I passed my audition after about six weeks. Everyone was very supportive and there was no pressure to do the audition before I was ready. It's not for everyone, but if you can hold a tune and are prepared to put the work in, this is an excellent way of learning and performing some great music with a very sociable and talented group of people.