January was, surprisingly, a very busy month. In addition to my weekly choir rehearsals and teaching commitments, I’ve been out and about recording choirs each weekend and I’m also working on a joint venture to publish a series of books about learning the treble recorder. Not that I’m complaining. I thrive on being busy and some would say I am a workaholic.
Of course, I’m well aware that compared to a lot of people I have a fairly easy life. I spend most of the time doing things that I enjoy and, other than my wife, I’m only answerable to the person in the mirror! Because I don’t have any fixed hours of work, other than the times of choir rehearsals, I often find time to swan around having tea and cake. Apparently this makes some people jealous – especially those who do ‘proper’ jobs and have to be in a place of work during ‘normal’ office hours. For me, the counterbalance to this ‘luxury’, is having to get up at 4am on a regular basis to go and record a choir at the other end of the country, and not get home until late at night!
Ultimately life is all about choice. I knew from a very young age that I didn’t want to do any job which meant being stuck behind a desk, or subject to a daily routine. I also wanted to be free to meet people and travel around doing different things, thus creating a varied and interesting existence.
All of which brings me to my question for this week, which is do you have time in your life to join a choir? For all my swanning around having tea and cake with choir members, I’m well aware that a lot of people have an enormous amount of things going on. Trying to juggle a full time job with family life and other commitments is no easy thing.
As a result of this we all surround ourselves with time saving devices. The assumption being that we are all so busy we barely have time to breathe. In fact that’s probably not far from the truth. I’m sure more words are communicated electronically, via email or text message, than are said face to face on a daily basis. I know that I am often guilty of spending too much time ‘interacting’ with my iPhone. That’s one of the reasons why I like going out for tea and cake with people as it means I get to spend time talking to someone rather than responding to a few characters on a screen!
If you go shopping, paying with cash is now seen as far too time consuming. Instead we have all been issued with little tags which can be waved in the direction of a machine ready to relieve you of money in an instant. On the assumption that no one has time to boil a kettle, you can get coffee ‘to go’ almost anywhere. In recent years, the internet has been seen as probably the biggest time saving device. No more do you have to actually go to a shop – you can just buy everything ‘online’ and have it delivered at the precise moment you happen to be at home on any given day of the week. And even if you did one day decide to venture out to an actual shop, theres a little screen and voice in the car which tells you exactly which way to go. Furthermore, a lot of modern cars will now park for you by themselves.
Of course the irony of the internet, is that it is has great potential to waste time, often without you realising. One minute you are just checking the weather report before you go out. Then an email comes in, so you’d better quickly read that before you go. That probably contains a link to something else online which warrants at least a cursory glance. You could just leave at this point, but while the browser is open you may as well have a quick look at Facebook to see what everyone else is doing. By now, you’ve spent so long ‘faffing’ about you need to open up Google Maps to find a quicker route. That in turn will lead to an investigation of current traffic conditions and before long you are an on a news site. You can’t log off until you have tweeted the ‘funny story’ to all your followers by which time someone has commented on your Facebook status and you need to respond to that….
So, in amongst this world of fast moving electronic communication & time saving devices, I would like to put forward the case for joining a choir. If you do, you will get to spend an hour or so each week in a room interacting with and working with other people. No one will be on their phone, no messages will be sent and no internets will be searched. Not only that, you’re expected to learn the words and will probably find an hour or more of singing is actually quite physically demanding. Go on, you never know, you might enjoy it!
Jules Addison is currently Musical Director for: Cirencester Male Voice Choir, The BlueBelles, The Pewsey Belles, The GWH Trust Choir and Transeamus Chamber Choir.