It seems appropriate to be writing my first blog about singing soon after the Christmas season. It’s a time when even the most reluctant of us has been dragged into singing karaoke, participating in a choir or carol singing at some event or other.
But actually my inspiration to write this came as a bit of a surprise to me, for this year was supposed to be that one year when I had planned to step back and take some musical time off. Why? Well, because I cannot remember ever not being involved with some Yuletide musical activity or other. As a child it was school shows and brass band carolling (I was a mediocre cornet player). Later it became more intense with endless choir concerts and seasonal operas, not to forget the obligatory Messiah and so forth. But ah, this year was going to be different. I would take Christmas off!
So I smuggly listened to my colleagues telling me how they were never going to be ready in time for the concert, how they had still not memorized their lines, the props still weren’t ready….whilst I just sat back and watched just one more Netflix Christmas movie. Oh yes, how I was enjoying this.
Then my plans changed, I had a death in the family and I found myself on the 19th December on a plane bound for Cornwall to attend her funeral. It seemed right then, that I should stay on there for the holiday and use it as an opportunity to catch up with family and friends.
After so many years in Madrid, I had forgotten what a Cornish Christmas is. Well, it’s amazing. And yes, music is everywhere. The Cornish sing, they really sing, four part harmonies the lot.
I am proud to be a vice-president of the Truro Male Voice Choir so whilst I was there I took the opportunity of hearing them sing in the local pub. A mix of men, ages ranging from late teens to eighties gathered together singing with total joy and inhibition under the mastery of their director, Russell Pascoe. The joy’s contagious. Within no time (and probably with a little help from the local ale) the entire pub was joining in. Being in Truro, it was not a surprise to find much of the audience already members of other choirs. Singers from the Three Spires Singers, Duchy Opera and the Truro men sang in one united voice. What an unforgettable evening.
On leaving the Rising Sun that night I realised something; that music really is a fundamental part of Christmas and we really can not celebrate it’s true meaning without it. Carols have been part of our culture since the middle ages and well, the undeniable fact is singing makes us happy. More than that, it brings us together and makes us feel part of something bigger.
When we talk of Christmas being the happiest time of the year I have no doubt that music is an important contribution in making it so. Songs provoke memories, recreate emotions of happier times (sometimes sad ones too) and encourage us to express ourselves in a way that everyday life does not allow.
So, although I do not regret taking this Christmas off, I am ready to go for next year with extra enthusiasm.
But also it has made me think, why stop there? People clearly love the pub singalongs, the karaokes, the church carol services. It clearly does make them happy. So, why not then celebrate in this way all year round?
So, one of my new years resolutions is to revive those days when people sang in community, to enjoy the spontaneity of singing among friends. Instead of just standing around making polite conversation, my next party will involve a piano and a sheet of song words. Doesn’t that sound like fun? And I shall keep you posted on the response from both my guests and my neighbours.
Happy new year everyone. Let’s make 2020 a musical one and let’s get singing!