Finding Joy – a choir tale

I love the word “joy”. It’s so simple, yet sums up perfectly for me the feeling of great happiness, satisfaction, and a sense that all is right with the world. How often do we really feel this? Let ourselves live in the moment and bask in the joy of what or who’s around us. Last week I found the joy with 13 other amazing individuals. I knew I was going to have fun at the singing retreat, but I wasn’t really expecting the sense of absolute joy that kept washing over me as we moved from being 14 individuals to a tight little group of singers and dare I say, friends. Our task wasn’t easy.We participated in a two day workshop with the amazingly talented Emma Dean and Tony Dean, where we learnt four challenging vocal arrangements and then had to be performance ready to sing at the Festival of Voices for the following two days. We worked hard, a few people had the flu, another nearly lost his voice, and we were tired and concerned about our first performance as we headed from our lovely retreat at Stewarts Bay back to Hobart. But despite this, and through it all, we laughed – together and at each other – and talked and laughed some more, and we bonded over our shared love of singing, music, food, wine and whiskey! We ranged in age from 28 to 65, but we all found a connection – an in person one! We arrived at the Singers’ Lounge for our first performance, only to discover we were following the Exaudi Youth Choir – one of Australia’s most highly regarded vocal groups. They were amazing, and as I looked around at our group, mouths went dry and hands clung a little tighter to music folders. We got up on stage. They called us the wrong name, told the incorrect story about us and we got the giggles. It lightened the mood. Our fearless leader and conductor Emma gave us her gorgeous smile and we started. One of my favourite things about singing is watching peoples’ reactions to the music. We weren’t Exaudi, that’s for sure, but what we were was different, colourful, energetic, enthusiastic and yeah, we could sing! Our music was unexpected – a 90’s mash up, then an arrangement featuring Nirvana and Ave Maria. Before long the crowd was smiling and toe tapping. Joy was there for the taking. My fellow alto singer gave me a hand squeeze (a little ritual now) and I knew she felt the same way I did. Each performance over the next two days got stronger, better, more relaxed and more fun. As I stood atop a double decker bus (one of our more interesting performance venues), I wondered how I could bottle this feeling. Bring it more in to my everyday life. Share it with those who haven’t been able to find joy in their lives. My best advice is to find people who “get you”, who share your love of whatever it is that you love and spend time doing that with them.Thank you to my singing retreat buddies for bringing the joy – it wasn’t what I expected, but it was what I needed!

PS – A special thank you to Jane and Marg from the Festival of Voices Tasmania who did an outstanding job in organising our events and singing (pun intended) our praises whatever our name was – Cheap Thrill, Cheep Trills, Me Time Experience Choir, Cheep Trill (yeah that’s it!). We’ll be back!

Pauline

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