THE SOUND OF MUSIC
Now, I was actually named after Julie Andrews. So you might think I can sing well. Or, at least, sing in tune.
Alas, you’d be wrong. As many of my school music teachers would be happy to testify if they weren’t now covering up their ears at the thought.
In fact, growing up, my dream was to be able to sing like Dame Julie.
But, alas, I never could.
Until many, many years later,when, after an unsuccessful operation on her vocal chords, Dame Julie lost her famous ability to sing. Which means, I guess that, finally, I can sing like her. But not quite in the way I had in mind.
Still, undaunted, I sing because I like to sing, for the pleasure of singing. And whilst anyone else would have the decency to restrict their tuneless warblings to the shower, I have ventured out with my vocal chords and pitched in with the worst of them: starting off in the Singing For the Terrified class at London’s City Lit Institute, and graduating to the Can’t Sing Choir at Morley College.
The curious thing about the Can’t Sing Choir is that, in Year Three, they still call themselves the Can’t Sing Choir. You’d think that after three years, they’d at least, call them the “Can Maybe Get Three Notes Out of Ten” choir.
I did try to give up. I even read an inspirational book which urged people not to waste their precious time trying to master talents for which they clearly had no ability.
In particular, I was struck by one line which seemed to be directed straight at me: “And, if you can’t sing, Girl, quit the choir”.
And, there it was. So, with that, I duly handed in my resignation from the Can’t Sing Choir. And, instead, I took up. …. Well, nothing.
Because, quite frankly, what else could give you that same Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah that you get from standing up and bursting into song with a whole crowd of people of all ages and singing ability who you’d never ordinarily meet?
So, undaunted, and untuned, I have now joined a local choir. There are no auditions needed for this choir, which means they will accept all-comers. So, I can happily just stand at the back of the group and drone away to my heart’s content.
Personally, I blame the Gareth Malone effect. Popular TV Choirmaster, Gareth, is forever rounding up Military Wives, postmen, airport workers and medical professionals and putting them through their musical paces. Which might be good news for them, but if you’re on the waiting list for a hip op, don’t be too surprised if your operation is cancelled as your surgeon is too busy rehearsing hip, hop.
And, apparently, you’re never old to start finding your inner singing diva. As a new film about a choir for retired folk, “Song for Marion”, starring Vanessa Redgrave and Terence Stamp, sets out to explore. So, I may well be pursuing this hobby for many years to come.
A friend remarked to me some time ago: “Well, you must be able to sing… You’re in a choir.” To settle the discussion, I invited her to attend the choir’s Christmas concert and deliberately put myself on the front row so she could hear me.
Afterwards, my friend sighed and said: “OK, you’re right, you can’t sing but it’s lovely just to watch the joy on your face as you perform.” Which is, I guess, what it’s all about.
So, remember, if you’re walking past my local community hall one day, and you hear the Sound of Music, do pop in and have a listen. Perhaps the Hills are Alive with the sound of Julie after all!