Gareth Malone's thoughts on why you should join a choir..

In recent years there has been a great increase in the level of interest in singing as part of a choir. Possibly the most famous choir was the Military Wives Choir that sang at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Since then there have been many others.

Gareth Malone is asked why you should join a choirOne of the main driving forces behind this renewed interest has been Gareth Malone. As a result of his energy and guidance, many people, who thought they could not sing have discovered the joy of singing. Not only is there considerable enjoyment, but singing brings with it many other benefits from belonging to a group, and becoming part of a singing community, to the feeling of satisfaction, achievement and excitement from practicing and performing songs well.

The BBC interviewed Gareth Malone, asking him about his thoughts on joining a choir.

We have published the answers below with permission from the BBC.

Why is singing important for communities?
Archaeological evidence shows that humans have been making music for tens of thousands of years. Singing bonds people together, exercises a range of muscles and makes you feel happy. The camaraderie of communal singing is of benefit to people - you don't get that when listening to a CD no matter what style of music. You don't even get it in karaoke because that's focussed on individual performances. It's mostly at football matches and religious gatherings that people sing en-masse with no thought of their own ability. I think it's important that people feel free to sing and that there is somewhere for them to be heard. People can feel very isolated and singing is an excellent way to combat that.

Why do you think singing in a choir isn't more popular?
I think choirs are becoming more and more popular. We have a great choral tradition in this country. Speaking to other choral directors in the country I get the sense that there has been a gradual shift in people's attitude towards choirs. Numbers are up and there are a wider range of choirs than ever before: gospel, rock, church, barbershop, beatbox, you name it.

You have been described as a 'populariser of choral singing' - how do you do this?
I think it's important to lead people gradually towards more and more challenging repertoire. It's vital to sing music that people know and love but that shouldn't be at the expense of tackling the amazing music written for choirs. I try to show people why I'm enthusiastic about the music and how it can be something they can enjoy too.

What's the secret to a successful choir?
A passion for singing is the vital ingredient in any performance. As an audience member you want to know that people love getting together to sing. In the best choirs they sing music that suits their level. On top of that you need inspiration and a lot of hard work.

What are the benefits of singing for individuals?
There are obvious health benefits as well as it being excellent for your state of mind. It's good for the whole body - posture and breathing. And of course it's a rewarding challenge that everyone can undertake. But the most important factor is what it does for people's confidence; it lifts people in ways that no other activity can.

Do you have any advice for nervous singers or people who think they can't sing?
Don't go in for something that you aren't ready for! Choose your choir carefully. Take deep breaths. Nerves tend to play havoc with your breath and can leave you feeling light headed. Remember that your voice is not YOU. It's just a collection of bits of muscle and cartilage with air blowing through. People may judge your voice but it shouldn't be a judgment on your personality as well. Finally singing is something that needs to be worked at; you don't arrive at a wonderful sound without some practice and some advice. Everybody has to start somewhere.

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