Article by Jessica Chivers- The Thinking Woman’s Coach
Watching Judi in action as part of the largest, most popular contemporary choir in the world you would never guess she doesn’t always feel so bright and bubbly. “Rock Choir is the only time I don’t worry,” Judi muses as she reflects on what it is that makes the Surrey based pop, gospel and Motown choir the highlight of her week.
Rock Choir was founded in 2005 by professional musician, Caroline Redman Lusher with the emphasis on everyone singing, everyone welcome. Rock Choir doesn’t hold auditions and that is perhaps one of the reasons – along with appearances on BBC Breakfast, Euro Disney, and the Paul O’Grady show – why Rock Choir has exploded almost overnight into more than 60 choirs across eight counties in the south of England. Another reason is Caroline’s absolute determination to bring Rock Choir to the masses, expanding the business as far as Scotland and Wales in 2010 with more than 100 new locations nationwide.
Caroline Redman Lusher, said: “Rock Choir is a way-in for the general public to enjoy singing pop, motown and chart music, giving the traditional concept of the choir a radical and glamorous makeover. It’s great fun, often life-changing for the individual and uplifting for whole communities. It seems to fulfil an emotional need within people because the passion and enthusiasm from Rock Choir members has always carried our business forward much faster than we could predict.”
Rock Choir was what I needed to kick start my new life
Like Judi, Maggie who’s 56 and also a member of the Farnham Rock Choir group, says being part of the choir has taken her places – literally and figuratively – that she could never have anticipated. She describes the choir as filling a hole that her grown-up children flying the nest, left behind. “When my youngest went to university I experienced a deep period of depression and after I saw a friend performing in Rock Choir I decided to join as I needed something to fill my days. Rock Choir was what I needed to kick-start my new life.”
After Rock Choir came the confidence for Maggie to try other new things, the most inspiring and fun-filled of which has to be the Harley Davidson holiday she took with her husband in the US recently. Singing has also had other unexpected benefits, says Maggie: “I love the sensation of singing. It really lifts me and it’s also helped with a lung condition.”
Maggie and Judi both agree that going to Rock Choir is more than just singing though. “It’s like going to a social gathering. I’ve made some really good friends, something I hadn’t expected later in life,” says Judi. The connection with other people and working as part of a team is inspiring say many other members, myself included.
I joined the St Albans Rock Choir when it began autumn 2009 and although I do it as a break from my life as a mother – I am 30 and my children are three and one – like Judi and Maggie I come away buzzing after my Thursday night (with the wonderfully talented Abigail Smith who leads the St Albans choir). It’s no wonder we feel euphoric when you think about the type of things we sing. Judi’s two favourites are “Something Inside So Strong” and “Anytime You Need a Friend” whilst mine is “Get Happy” which my three-year old, Monty, has picked up and loves to join in with. Maggie’s daughter has joined Rock Choir and I’m sure Monty will be keen to come along when he’s a bit older now that Rock Choir runs choirs for youngsters too.
Singing does fabulous things for our heart
As a coaching psychologist I’m curious about Rock Choir from a wellbeing point of view, too.
The branch of psychology that studies happiness, wellbeing and human flourishing – positive psychology – concurs with Maggie on the physical wellbeing benefits of being part of a choir. Like laughter, singing does fabulous things for our heart, immune system and the neurotransmitters that produce, and prolong, feelings of joy. For instance, German scientists studying the saliva of choir singers before and after rehearsing Mozart’s Requiem found significant positive changes in their immune system and mood. Likewise, an American Professor following a chorale group aged 65-96 – the Senior Singers Chorale – found that compared to non-singers of the same age, the senior singers suffer less depression, take fewer medications and participate in more activities. How fantastic is that? Fancy a few of those benefits in your own life? Have a look at www.rockchoir.com and see the choirs in action on YouTube. Go on, goodness knows what joy or unexpected pleasures it might bring into your life – Harley Davidson holidays not guaranteed!
Watch the St Albans Rock Choir’s first public performance on YouTube