People Together, Singing

Sale Sings community choir members, all dressed up for our Christmas gig, smiling and waving.

Over here I explained how I was fed up of considering individual solutions to global chaos. I want to be able to imagine collective solutions, and the first step is to celebrate the collaboration I already know about.

I’m going to start with Sale Sings choir, which I joined in the summer of 2023.

It all started when I attended a 2-day singing workshop with my friend Katy, in February. Two days of singing, together with many others, and revelling in the amazing sounds and feelings people can create when they sing together. I was introduced to Rose, a wonderfully charismatic local choir director, and I knew I wanted more, so I joined her Sale Sings choir.

But no, it all started when I joined Accord gospel choir a few years ago. I was having a terrible time, being badly bullied by a member of senior staff in my teaching job. One of my colleagues told me about Accord. This small group of singers lifted me up, sang with me and laughed with me and helped me gain the strength I needed to move on to better things.

But no, it all started when I attended an African singing workshop at York Arts Centre when I was a teenager. What a wonderful way of singing! What amazing sounds we made together!

Or did it start when I was a child and I sang in the school choir? Or the local church choir? Or when my mother and grandmother encouraged me to sing at any opportunity?

It doesn’t matter. It’s really good for you to sing with other people. It makes you feel great. It’s beneficial for mind and body. “Singing in the shower gives you a bit of an uplift, but when doing it communally, there’s something about the synchrony of singing that creates this massive endorphin uplift.” And there’s more in this article about the benefits of singing: “A project for the UK government’s Foresight programme listed five ways to wellbeing – connect, be active, take notice, keep learning, give; singing [in a group] manages all five.” And crucially, it helps you to form connections with people, which is why it’s such a great example for a series about collaboration.

I’m not great in large groups of people I don’t know, and I confess when I first joined Sale Sings, I worried that people would be mean to me, or laugh at me, or leave me out of things. And I kept being delighted, over and over, by how kind and inclusive and friendly everyone was. That thing in this article about how “strangers who sang together for an hour emerged from the sessions with an unusually close bond”? I can tell you it’s true.

And then there’s the music. It’s so easy to create a massive gorgeous uplifting sound when several people sing together. It doesn’t matter if some people are a bit off key, or some have forgotten the words, or not everyone has quite grasped the rhythm yet. It doesn’t matter if you are the one that feels a bit lost. Together you make the magic (and you can listen to some of the magic from our Sale Sings choir here).

I’m so convinced of its power, I’ve started submitting singing workshop ideas to tech conferences. Fingers crossed someone will bite, and 2024 will see me leading a bunch of joyful geeks in song!

This is part of a series of stories celebrating collaboration in all its forms. I want to hear your stories too! Post in the comments here or on the intro post.

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