I had heard about a Britpop Choir late last year, a group dedicated to singing Britpop songs, my favorite genre of music, and I was immediately intrigued. The end of their autumn session resulted in a concert that not only had them singing Pulp’s Disco 2000 but also offered $4 margaritas. I stationed myself off to the side of the bar and sang along with them from behind the safety of my glass. They were exuberant and inspirational, the music was awesome and I wanted in.
Before I had even attended that December show, I was already convinced that I should join. I was in a social and professional rut and sometimes, I felt as though I couldn’t stand myself. You know, that feeling when you’re sick of yourself and you just want to break out and do something completely out of character? That’s how I felt and it was maddening. But also, I had convinced myself that it would change my life.
Y’see, I really wanted to have a cinematic turning point, something to perk up and empower my life. I pictured myself joining the choir and having an epiphany; all the gloomy days would be gone, I would be singing in a choir and the monotony and stress would melt away, then there might be a conflict (gasp!), then someone would ask me to come back to the choir (in the rain, of course), and I would return victorious at the end show, sharing knowing glances and smiles with my new BFFs, as we sang our hearts out. It would be the summer sleeper, a cult hit in a few years and then endlessly running on TBS later.
Now, on one hand, this isn’t completely foolish to believe since I am not in any way a Performer, so joining indeed pushes my personal boundaries. I have to go alone to the rehearsals every Monday night, talk to new people, sing in public, and make a rather large commitment, all things I’m awful at, as an introvert. On the other hand, though, too many rom-coms can make you completely delusional, and to put it bluntly, joining the choir didn’t really change my life. But it did change my perspective.
It's remarkable how many benefits there are to a group choir. For one, there is something completely magical and enjoyable about singing, and this is a surprise to someone who has never really sang before. I’m a total chicken when it comes to doing anything on stage but group performing doesn’t come with that anxiety or stage fright. For our choir, this is purely for fun, no competition, no embarrassment, no audition – we simply show up, and try. We meet once a week in a little room in a beautiful community center, Clemente Soto Velez, down on Suffolk Street in the Lower East Side of New York City. The majority of us are not professional singers although there are a few songbirds with incredible voices, including our director and creator Charlie.
There’s even actual science to back-up the goodness of embracing your inner Performer. Studies show that singing in a choir is good for your psychological well-being because it feels meaningful and connected. It also has been reported that singers’ heartbeats synch up and scientists claim this leads to a spiritual revelation – one that mimics the health benefits of yoga and prayer recitation. Plus, the brain and vocal chords get a workout by remembering pitches, notes and arrangements.
So who knew? Singing at the top your lungs every week gets rid of stress and actually increases joy. It doesn’t necessarily change your life per se, but it does increase happiness, a fair trade in my book.
What have you done lately that has got you joyful? Comment below and let us know.
Colleen Williams is an Intellectual + Athlete + Visionary runner-writer-New Mexican living in New York City. Every week, she will explore and experience a new archetypal pattern and how it applies to her life and yours. Pop culture references are strongly encouraged.