Christmas is a busy time of year for Arun Choral Society – and when I arrived at Arundel Church of England Primary School for their rehearsals last Monday, it was all systems go.
They were days away from the first of two Christmas shows at Arundel Cathedral, where they teamed up with pupils from ten schools in Littlehampton, Wick, Bognor Regis, Arundel, Yapton, Rustington and Steyning to sing traditional carols.
Sheet music was being passed around, the pianist was warming up and musical director Joe Paxton was doing a vocal assessment with new member Louise Golds, who found out she was a soprano – the highest female voice type.
She said: “The most daunting thing when I was doing the singing test is I haven’t sung in front of anyone for years.
“My voice broke and I sounded like a 14-year-old boy!”
The 36-year-old from St Floras Road, Littlehampton, has been involved in the choir for a month, and said she already felt ‘part of the family’ and was looking forward to the shows: “When you sing Christmas carols it makes everyone smile and feel in the Christmas mood.”
It was not long before the tables were turned and I had a go at singing with the choir.
I was put with the bass singers, and tried my hand at the 16th Century Coventry Carol and a range of German songs, including Silent Night.
If singing in another language was not tricky enough, I realised reading music was even harder – but thanks to my unwitting mentor Ken Black from Angmering, who was sitting next to me, I managed to pick it up.
The 70-year-old thought I did ‘brilliantly’ – although I felt he was being too kind – and said the Christmas concert was a great showcase for the children: “It is quite a special occasion for them, and a lot of people come just to see the children.
“They have to give their best, and we are there to help them do that but they have practised hard for it as well.”
As my only singing expertise is in the car or at karaoke, I was intruiged to know what my vocal range was.
So I asked Joe to do a vocal assessment with me, and after a rendition of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen and increasingly high-pitched scales, I was told I was a tenor. Pavarotti, eat your heart out.
The final concert is on Saturday at 7pm. Email email firstname.lastname@example.org.