THERE was a feeling of nervous excitement in the hall at William Allitt School last Wednesday, as a group of strangers prepared to embark on a task many of them may never have though possible.
Sat in a semi-circle of school chairs, the people attending the Big Sing Thing were not sure what from this first of four workshops. They had been told it would end in a public performance – something which seemed wholly overwhelming to some members of the group.
But as 7.30pm arrived, so did conductor David Lawrence, and the slightly tense atmosphere dispersed almost instantly.
Now in its ninth run, the Big Sing Thing aims to get people in the community on their feet and singing. Those behind it are fuelled by the firm belief that everyone can sing – and that they should.
Organiser Philip King said: “There is a proverb which says ‘If you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk, you can sing’, and it’s so true. Music is an integral part of being human.
“All the research shows that only a few people can’t sing, but most people lack the confidence.”
Jane Ball fell into that category before she attended the first of these events several years ago.
She got involved after taking her daughter to the South Derbyshire Music Centre, which runs from a number of venues in the area.
Mrs Ball, who lives in Midway, said: “I like to sing. I wouldn’t say I’m very good at it, but I do enjoy it.
“I came along and loved it, because David is just a wonderful conductor. The whole thing is so enjoyable.”
David Lawrence is one of the leading community conductors in the UK. His method is based on helping people to enjoy what they are doing.
On Wednesday, he started out by helping everyone warm up and try a bit of a song. It was lively, fun, and engaging.
“You have a choice,” he told the 100-plus people gathered, “You can sing the right note, or one completely of your own choosing, but make sure you sing.”
Ann Marsh, from Newhall had gone along for the first time on Wednesday, and said beforehand she was looking forward to the evening.
“I love to sing, but I don’t even know if I can do it. I’m a little nervous about the performance. It’s slightly daunting to think I will be performing in front of people,” she said.
Despite the inevitable fear, Mr King said there was a real ‘feel-good factor to the work.
“It’s about working together and achieving something
The month-long course will see people develop over four sessions, before performing a number of songs – some in different languages – in a concert at St Helen’s Church in Ashby, on April 4.
The next session will take place on Wednesday evening at 7.30pm, at William Allitt School, Newhall. Further information is available by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org