en Choir Annual Concert 2016

We are pleased to announce that our 2016 Annual Concert of contemporary pop and soul songs (with a gospel twist) accompanied by a live band will take place on Saturday 16th July at St Alphege Church on Whitstable High Street at 7.30pm.

Tickets are on sale here. If you want to know what’s in store, here are en Choir in action:

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en Choir open to new members this September!

en Choir are opening for new members from Wednesday the 9th of September 2015 through to January 2015.

* We sing pop, rock, soul, jazz and world music songs
* There is no audition – anyone can join
* Open to men and women of all ages (16+)
* You do not need any ‘experience’ of choir singing
* Think you can’t sing? We will teach you how
* Learn vocal technique, socialise and have fun
* Recruiting now – come and join us – your first session is free and remaining sessions have a selection of standard and negotiable rates.

There is no need to book a place, simply show up to one of our sessions. We meet on Wednesday evenings from 7.30pm in Whitstable and our full address and map can be viewed on our location page.

Our facebook event page is here, so please spread the word, and join the choir!

 

en Choir Annual Concert

Our 2015 Annual Concert was a sell out! We had an audience of over 300 and believe that it was our best concert to date. We loved our venue, St Alphege in Whitstable, and would very much like to perform there again. Although we do not align ourselves with a religion, or perform religious repertoire, there is nothing like the acoustic of a church to amplify 50+ voices. Please take a look at some of our pictures below, taken by the talented Lee Thompson. 

If you’d like to join en Choir, we are accepting new members from our first rehearsal in September and a list of rehearsal dates are here. Anyone can join, regardless of experience or ability, and there is no requirement to read music as lyric sheets are provided to all members. We are friendly, fun and relaxed and welcome new members. The 1st session is free of charge, so you can ‘try before you buy’. Please come along! Best wishes, Emily (MD).

en Choir 2015 Annual Concert

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Photography by Lee Thompson

en Choir 2015 Concert!

 

We are pleased to announce that tickets are now on sale for our 2015 annual concert. Only £8 full price, £6 concessions and under 12’s go free. Come along for some uplifting fun pop music with a wonderful choir and live band, straight after the Whitstable Oyster Festival Parade.

Tickets can be purchased from We Got Tickets here. Anthem for Landmark Score parts allWanna hear what the choir sound like in advance? Check this out!

 

* en Choir in 2015 *

en Choir are open for new members until Easter 2015!

We have some brilliant events coming up including a rapping workshop with MC Harry Shotta, a session with guest musical director Simon Foster of the Flying Pickets and rehearsals with our amazing house band in preparation for our annual concert on Saturday the 25th of July in Central Whitstable.

* We sing pop, rock, soul, jazz and world music songs
* There is no audition – anyone can join
* Open to men and women of all ages (16+)
* You do not need any ‘experience’ of choir singing
* Think you can’t sing? We will teach you how
* Learn vocal technique, socialise and have fun
* Recruiting now – come and join us – your first session is free and remaining sessions have a selection of standard and negotiable rates.

There is no need to book a place, simply show up to one of our sessions. We meet on Wednesday evenings from 7.30pm in Whitstable and our full address and map can be viewed on our location page.

Our facebook page is here so please get online, spread the word, and join the choir!

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Photography: Lee Thompson

New members welcome!

en Choir are opening for new members from Wednesday the 10th of September 2014 through to the end of October 2014.

* We sing pop, rock, soul, jazz and world music songs
* There is no audition – anyone can join
* Open to men and women of all ages (16+)
* You do not need any ‘experience’ of choir singing
* Think you can’t sing? We will teach you how
* Learn vocal technique, socialise and have fun
* Recruiting now – come and join us – your first session is free and remaining sessions have a selection of standard and negotiable rates.

There is no need to book a place, simply show up to one of our sessions. We meet on Wednesday evenings from 7.30pm in Whitstable and our full address and map can be viewed on our location page.

Our facebook event page is here, so please get online, spread the word, and join the choir!

en Choir Concert + CD Launch

Tickets are now on sale for our annual concert, which will also double up as the launch of our debut EP.  The concert will take place at St Peter’s Church in Whitstable on Saturday the 19th of July 2014 with performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm. The choir will be accompanied by a live band and will feature singer-songwriter Jo Hook, whose album the choir recently featured on. Tickets  for the concert can be purchased here.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video which documents some of the recording process. Filmed by the fantastic  Anton French. 

Vocal Technique for Singers: Breathing and Breath Control

 

Throughout 2014 en Choir members w ill focus on selected elements of vocal technique during our warm-up sessions. As we are currently focusing on breathing and breath control I would like to share with you my top tips.

Posture 

The first step in developing vocal technique is to establish good posture for singing. Your body is your instrument and poor alignment or unnecessary tension can effect how well you sing. Good posture enables good breathing. Think of your body as the engine that drives your voice and your breath as the fuel that drives the engine.

  • Stand with your feet hip width apart. Your weight should be evenly distributed. A good exercise is to transfer your weight from right to left foot, forward and backwards and round in a circle and to then move to a centered place. Your knees should be relaxed and your arms should rest by your side. Be wary of your chin and neck: singers often raise their chin in the belief that they are helping the sound come out when really, this places unnecessary strain and tension on the voice.

Once we have established good posture we move to the second step in developing vocal technique: learning to breathe well during singing. Having control over your breathing will not only help to support your voice but will enable healthy singing to take place.

There are three key breathing skills singers need to learn:

  1. The ability to inhale large quantities of air 
  2. The ability to snatch a good breath quickly 
  3. The ability to control the escape of breath 

 

Breathing well for singing

Most people find that when they breathe in their chest rises: this is, after all, what comes naturally. But through developing your posture, practising breathing exercises and singing regularly you will start to master deeper diaphragmatic breathing. Have you ever heard someone say: “sing from the diaphragm!” or “use your diaphragm”? Did you understand what they meant?  

Many singers haven’t a clue – I didn’t until my third year at music college – and this is why: we don’t actually sing with our diaphragm. It is a combination of abdominal muscles, intercostal muscles (the muscles connecting the ribs) and the diaphragm that constitute the breathing mechanism. 

When we inhale, the diaphragm descends into the stomach area, pushing down and moving everything out of the way. The intercostal muscles of the rib cage expand sideways resulting in an expansion around the stomach, sides and back.  

On exhalation our diaphragm relaxes upwards towards its original position as our lungs empty of air. This is where the abdominal muscles really kick in: they are responsible for the exhalation of breath. The diaphragm merely controls the speed we exhale our breath.  

To focus on the diaphragm as the sole mechanism for breathing is actually quite beneficial as it is intricately linked with the myriad of abdominal muscles that contribute to the task. The diaphragm is also one of the largest muscles in the human body and its rise and fall – an accordian-like inhalation and exhalation pattern – provides strong visual imagery for the singer. 

 

Diaphragm

Let’s now look at some exercises to develop each of these three key breathing skills.

Please note:  If at any point you feel light-headed take a break and come back later. These exercises need only be performed for a few minutes at a time.

  1. Start by performing these exercises lying down.
  2. As you find your feet, progress to sitting upright, or standing.
  3. For a challenge, perform these exercises whilst walking.

TIPS: When you inhale keep the upper body as relaxed as possible: there should be no lifting of the shoulders, clenching of the hands or jaw, or noisy gasping of breath. 

Your sternum/breastbone should be strong and erect with no sagging and focus should be placed on drawing the breath low into the body. Your stomach must never be sucked in during singing! 

 

1. The ability to inhale large quantities of air 

The ability to inhale large quantities of air allows long phrases to be sung in a controlled and relaxed manner. We tap into this ability by breathing deeply, allowing the lungs to fully inflate as the diaphragm lowers towards our stomach area.

  • Lie on the floor or on your bed. Breathe in and out through the mouth and focus on how your body feels. Are you breathing deeply? 

  • Inhale through the mouth or nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 8 seconds, exhale in a slow and controlled manner, hold your exhaled breath for 8 seconds. Please note, when you ‘hold’ your breath there should be no tension – the throat should be relaxed as though in a surprised position. It is difficult to avoid panicking when ‘holding’ the breath but liberating if you can master the art of neither breathing or out, and doing so without tension.

  • Experiment and make up some of your own breathing exercises which develop this ability.

 

2. The ability to snatch a good breath quickly

The ability to snatch a good breath quickly is effective when there is little time to breathe between quick sentences/phrases in a song.

  • Practice panting – as you do so you will feel your stomach move out and in again at high speeds – this is because your diaphragm is moving up and down and pushing your stomach contents aside in the process. See if you can do this silently. Focus on the exhalation and see how easily air pulls back in the lungs: you will be surprised at how much air you can take in by simply relaxing and not trying to breathe in. The lungs are a vacuum and are never empty of air. 

  • Practice gasping in shock – this opens the throat and allows large quantities of air to enter the lungs at high speed. Now practice doing this silently.

  • Think of your lungs as filling up in quarters. On the count of 1 breathe in 1/4 full, on the count of two breathe in 1/2 full, on the count of three breathe in 3/4 full and on the count of four breath in the final quarter. Repeat as you exhale, again in four stages. 

  • Sing:1, 121, 12321, 1234321, 123454321, 12345654321, 1234567654321, 123456787654321 and silently snatch a breath at each comma. 

  • Experiment and make up some of your own snatch breath exercises.

 

3. The ability to control the escape of breath

The ability to control the escape of breath allows long phrases to be sung in a controlled and relaxed manner. 

On exhalation the diaphragm moves back to its relaxed ‘home’ position underneath the lungs. As the diaphragm controls how quickly we exhale our breath, our goal is to learn how to slow this process down. If exhalation occurs too quickly it can create tension as we won’t have enough breath to make a solid and consistent sound. This is where many vocal technique problems occur and these problems are often referred to as lack of support.

Your stomach should remain in the full feeling position you experience immediately after breathing in. You should try to maintain this position for as long as possible when you are singing. Try to hold that feeling of fullness as your exhale – basically, make the diaphragm’s job of getting home as difficult as possible so its return is slow and controlled. 

  • Light a candle and hold it in front of your face. Take a deep breath into your lower stomach. As you exhale blow gently on the flame so it flickers but is not blown out. Keep your stomach in the full-feeling position throughout. Continue until your breath has fully escaped and try to stay relaxed throughout.

  • Breathe in and exhale very slowly to a ‘hiss’. The hiss should be relaxed, consistent and you can make this into a game where you time your exhalation.

  • Breathe in and exhale on an ‘ah’ sound. Time yourself and see how long you can exhale for. If you would like an additional challenge increase your loudness as your sing, whilst trying to maintain the feeling of fullness in your stomach area. Trying reversing the loudness: start loud and finish quiet. 

  • Experiment and make up some of your own breath control exercises.

 

 Please feel free to print or share this blog: 

Written and copyright © E Peasgood 2014.

Welcome to en Choir

Welcome to the new en Choir website. I have put this site together to help raise awareness about our wonderful choir and to enable new and existing members to access information about joining, rehearsal dates, concerts and songs. I intend to post regular blogs here which I also hope you will enjoy reading.

Forming en Choir was the first in many steps towards becoming the choral leader I am today. With en Choir I have been able to write and arrange music guided solely by my own musical tastes. I feel incredibly grateful to all of the singers in en Choir. There is nothing more satisfying to me than hearing my own compositions and arrangements performed by this wonderfully diverse group of singers from my local community.

Leading en Choir is the most fun I have had with a choir since I started  choral leading in 2006. en Choir is also very different to any other choir I have led. It is difficult to adequately describe the choirs dynamic so here are a few words members have used: open, friendly, progressive, accessible, bonkers, challenging, enjoyable, emotional and  fun. We do have such great fun and lots of laughter during our rehearsals.

If like many other members of en Choir you have become interested in choir singing through media and television programmes, then give it a go.  Never before have choirs been so accessible to people from all walks of life. You do not need to read music or have sung in a choir before: for many of our members, singing in en Choir has been their first experience of choral singing. You do not need to be religious: we may rehearse in a church (the acoustic is wonderful!) but we do not sing religious songs. You do not even need to love the songs we sing – although we do sing a diverse range of great uplifting songs – as appreciating a song whilst singing it is an entirely different experience to only listening to it. So you see, there is no excuse for not popping along to a rehearsal.

During the last ten years televised talent programmes and choir documentaries have led to an increased public interest around choir singing. And although these programmes are designed to entertain the masses they do bring interest towards and spread the word about choral singing. There are benefits to choral singing that only singers in choirs experience and it is partly through these televised choir programmes that the benefits of group singing are being experienced and explored by an increasing number of people. To possible new members: come along and see for yourself. To existing members: I look forward to working with you all in 2014.

Best wishes,

Em Peasgood – musical director of en Choir

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