How to Join our Choir
There are so many benefits to be gained from singing in a choir and at Ashtead Choral Society we are always keen to welcome new members. The choir now numbers around 100 singers; it’s a wonderful way to be part of a community, make new friends, accomplish new challenges and improve mental and physical health. So why not give us a try? We do not audition and though some singing experience is helpful, support and help are on hand.
Or just come along to a rehearsal! We meet on Monday evenings from 7:45pm to 9:45pm between September and June at Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall, Woodfield Lane, Ashtead. Several of us go to the pub across the road afterwards and you would be very welcome to join us there too!
Annual membership for the 2022-23 season costs £160 which works out at a little under £5 per rehearsal. Membership is free for under 25s and there is a 50% reduction for those aged 25-30.
If you love singing and enjoy a warm and friendly social atmosphere, please come along and try it out for a week or two. We ask only that you can sing and, if you join us, that you come to rehearsals regularly.
So come and make a joyful noise with us!
The centre piece of our most recent concert on Saturday 25th February 2023 was The Sea Symphony by Vaughan Williams. We were supported by two wonderful soloists and The Kent Sinfonia Orchestra. When we started the weeks of rehearsals I realised that this was the most complex choral work I had ever attempted. I decided at the outset to set a personal goal to learn the piece as note perfect as I could. I knew this would mean a lot of extra practice, listening to my part scores in the days between our weekly rehearsals.
I achieved my goal. Throughout the performance I felt exhilaration and liberation. The sheer thrill of singing when you know your part and hearing your section blending with the wonderful harmonies of other sections; sopranos, altos, tenors, basses and the orchestra, the ebb and flow of dynamics and timing. I was immersed in a world of exquisite sound.
I thoroughly enjoyed the concert. My first Sea Symphony and it was a real voyage of discovery!
The Many Benefits of Singing Together
Choir singing promotes health, happiness and social connection – it’s official!
If you need a little more of a nudge to try it, here are three fabulous reasons to join a choir from research published by Oxford University.
Research reveals that singing not only helps forge social bonds, it also does so quickly, acting as an excellent icebreaker. Community singing is especially effective for bonding large groups, making it an ideal choice to improve your broader social network.
Music-making generally exercises the brain as well as the body, but singing is particularly beneficial for improving breathing, posture and muscle tension. Singing has been shown to be effective in pain relief too, probably due to the release of neurochemicals such as ß-endorphin (a natural painkiller responsible for the “high” experienced after intense exercise).
There’s also some evidence to suggest that singing can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system, by reducing stress hormones and boosting antibodies!
Increasing evidence also suggests that our social connections can play a vital role in maintaining our health – a good social network, for example, can have more health benefits than giving up smoking. So it’s possible that singing can also improve health by expanding our social group.
Mental Health, Happiness & Wellbeing
Singing has been shown to improve our sense of happiness and wellbeing. Research has found, for example, that people feel more positive after actively singing than they do after passively listening to music. Improved mood probably in part comes directly from the release of those positive neurochemicals, and is also likely to be influenced by changes in our sense of social interaction with others.
Regular choir members also report that learning new songs is cognitively stimulating and helps their memory.
Singing is a powerful therapy indeed!