Walking into the first session of My Pop Choir at its new Beach location, you wouldn’t think this was the first time the group had sung together.
“You don’t have to have any music training, there are no auditions, you don’t have to read music, you’re never asked to sing solo, never asked to do anything outside of your comfort zone,” said choir master Doug Price. “My Pop Choir is all about fun and bringing together people for the love of singing and the love of music.”
The first My Pop Choir was started this September in Oakville when sisters-in-law Anne Wootten and Jacqueline Curtis realized several activities exist for those who want to improve their physical health, but they couldn’t find anything they liked to enhance their spiritual wellbeing.
“There’s so much out there for the body,” Curtis said. “There’s not a whole lot out there for the spirit without having any specific religious connotations or getting into anything that was mystic.”
After a successful first run in Oakville, My Pop Choir has expanded by opening six new choir locations — including one at the Beaches Recreation Centre at 6 Williamson Rd. where sessions are held every Thursday from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Registration costs $20 per week or $200 for the entire 10-week term. Fees are used to pay for administration costs, location rental and choir master salaries.
Curtis and Wootten have set a limit of about 50 singers per session. Despite the size limit, anyone is welcome to sign up at anytime during the term.
Neighbours Jim Ryan and Gerri Goldsmith signed up for the inaugural session to try the program out and say they’ll likely return.
“We were debating whether we should,” Goldsmith said. “I think we will though.”
Among the highlights of the evening for them were the popular tunes sung by the choir and the way Price guided the group.
“It’s energetic, it breaks down the shyness,” Ryan said of the choirmaster’s style. “He’s brilliant.”
Price said he gets his energy from the singers he leads.
“I’m in a group of people who love to do what I love to do,” he said. “How cool is that?
“It’s easy to be enthusiastic, in fact, it would be hard not to be.”
Lyrics for the songs are provided on sheets distributed beforehand. Some of the sheets include the musical score for those who can read music or wish to learn. With the help of a piano and hand gestures, Price demonstrates the right notes to hit during songs such as “Hello, Goodbye” by the Beatles. However, he said he really doesn’t have to change his conducting style very much for My Pop Choir.
“No one’s learned that song by reading music,” he said. “We’ve all learned it by listening to Paul and John and George and Ringo.
“In the same manner, we can learn any melody through listening.”
Participants get to flex their vocal chords along to songs from a variety of musical genres including Motown hits from the ’60s to modern chart toppers like Katy Perry’s “Firework”.
“We have to find songs with great harmonies, straight forward harmonies and ones that kind of convey positivity and fun and funky,” Curtis said. “So we go with pop, rock and R&B.”
The 20 or so participants at the Feb. 2 session all seemed to enjoy the musical selections during the first My Pop Choir in the Beach and many of them could still be seen smiling and getting to know each other after the session was over.
“To find out the impact it has on people is still pretty extraordinary,” she said. “I think it’s a social phenomenon that’s going on right now.
“I think there’s a social shift to people seeking things to make them feel good about who they are.”
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