By Emma Smallwood, GGCC.
How about coming to our choir? We are the Stoke Gifford Gospel choir, part of the Bristol choir Gospel Generation Community Choir (GGCC). We meet fortnightly on Tuesday evenings from 7.30pm to 9pm in the St Michael’s Centre, North Road.
We are a very friendly group who enjoy the challenges of learning gospel songs in three-part harmony. As the choir director I always say the main aim of the choir is to have fun and if we make a great sound along the way that’s a bonus! As it happens, we do always sound great and love to perform what we have learned at concerts, street parties, community festivals and more.
Now if you’re thinking, “I can’t sing,” then I say, “Let us help you find your voice.” I firmly believe that everyone has a voice, they don’t always know how to access it. If you’re scared of other people hearing your voice, the great thing about a choir is it’s all about the group sound, not the individual. I never make people do solos, but I do offer the chance to members if they want.
I particularly want to encourage men to come along, our choirs really benefit from the sound of the male voice. It’s a really accessible activity and you might be surprised by how much you enjoy it!
If you’re thinking, “But isn’t gospel just for people who believe in God to sing?” I would say, “No it’s not!” We have a lot of people in our choir who wouldn’t say they have any faith, but they love the fact that gospel songs are songs of joy and hope, often with really uplifting melodies/harmonies. Also, they can be quite simple to learn.
So, if you do decide to come along, what can you expect? Well, firstly the hall we use is fully accessible, with parking for Blue Badge holders just outside. We’re in the Lower Hall in the Centre, which is by the Old School Rooms Coffee Shop. When you arrive, someone will welcome you and help guide you to the best place to sit, depending on what you might want to sing. You may well later decide you want to change what you sing, and that’s totally fine!
We always start the rehearsal with some vocal warm-ups; they’re fun, easy to pick up and help get us ready to sing. We don’t use any words or music when learning songs, I teach them all by ear. This means no-one is excluded and although it takes longer to learn this way, you will find you are less likely to forget the songs. Sometimes I use my keyboard to accompany but most of the time it’s just voices. I do produce learning tracks for all the songs so members can rehearse in their own time.
Then at the end of each term we have a chance to perform! We either host our own concerts or get invited to sing at other events. It’s always such a highlight for members to hear themselves singing wonderfully and having an audience to cheer them on.
I hope I have said enough to convince you to give it a try! To find out when our rehearsals are email me, Emma email@example.com or visit our website www.ggcc.org.uk
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on page 21). The magazine is delivered FREE, nine times a year, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.