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Welcome to en Choir!

en Choir leader Emily Peasgood

en Choir is an informal, non-audition and diverse choir for men and women from all walks of life to socialise and have fun while singing contemporary songs together. You don’t even need to think you can sing as my job is supporting you in realising that you can. We currently have 60 members aged 14-83 and welcome new members all year round.

I formed en Choir in 2011 as an outlet for my more unusual musical arrangements of pop and soul songs and I am fortunate that our  Continue reading “Welcome to en Choir!”

Emily scoops up gold at British Composer Awards!

A huge congratulations are in order for our fearless leader, Emily Peasgood, as she picks up the award for Sonic Art at the British Composer Awards.

The award was earned for her work “Halfway to Heaven” which celebrated the rediscovery of a lost Baptist burial ground in Folkestone. The interactive installation was commissioned by the Creative Foundation as part of Folkestone Triennial last year, and was commended by The Times, The Telegraph and Wall Street International, as well as others.

Channeling those interned at the burial site, the work features motion-activated choral pieces featuring narrative elements which explore the relationship between two of the graveyard’s inhabitants. Bringing together a range of disciplines, including sculpture and programming, it’s little wonder Emily’s work was one of the most highly-visited sites during the Triennial.

The awards recognise the art of composition, and the creative talent of composers and sound artists in the UK

Last year, Emily’s works BIRDS and other Stories (2017) and Crossing Over (2016) were nominated at the British Composer Awards, marking the first time an artist saw two nominations in the same category.

All of us at en Choir are incredibly proud of the work Emily does and we’re excited to see her recognised in this fashion. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next!

Image © Mark Allan

Choirs are COOL!

If you’d have said the word ‘choir’ a few years ago, you’d expect eye-rolling or a glaze to fog up people’s eyes but in the last decade, choirs have taken on a very different tone (no pun intended). In the last ten years, Choirs have become cool.

Instead of focusing strictly on gospel affair, there’s been a swell of interest in choirs catering to more modern tastes, like en Choir or BIGMOUTH Chorus in Margate, covering rock, pop and soul songs with the power and versatility of a choir. It’s estimated that about 2.8 MILLION Brits have joined a choir, no doubt inspired by the shift in focus from classic music to more accessible genres. In fact, it’s not even unheard of for choir acts to find their way onto TV talent shows such as X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent. Continue reading “Choirs are COOL!”

Pack Up Your Troubles…

Being remembrance week, we’ve been looking a little into how troops kept their morale during war. As it happens, music played and still plays a huge role in the morale boosting of soldiers. These songs did not just feature in the First World War, but also the Second World War, and the Vietnam War (as well as most wars throughout history). Popular choices were ‘Pack up your Troubles in your Old Kit Bag’, ‘We’ll Meet Again’, and ‘House of the Rising Sun’; these and many more songs formed a part of history and keep that history alive when heard. For that, we will remember them.

To follow the shape of the hills

We have been embarking on a new challenge this year with the help of one of our Sopranos to learn and master the ancient art of Shape-Note-Singing. ‘To the Hills (Wester Caputh)‘ written by Brendan Taaffe is one such Shape-Note inspired piece taking on the design and style of this art. This style features shapes rather than notes for singers to follow and sing. Watch this space for a history of Shape-Note-Singing, and keep and ear out for our concert in July at which we shall present our hard work. Fancy trying some of this plus many more styles of music? Come down for a free trial rehearsal or contact us with any queries.

Every singer’s greatest nemesis – the sore throat

With the cold weather setting in, it is essential we prepare for the cold and flu season, so here are some top tips for ensuring your favourite pastime isn’t ruined by a pesky sore throat:

Tip #1 from the NHS Website:

– The NHS advises to drink plenty of water,     but avoid hot drinks – you need to                     increase your fluid intake to help your body heal,                                                         but hot drinks could jeopardise the process!

Tip #2 from Healthline:

– Healthline, an health website dedicated to helping people be in good                 health say that enjoying a drop of honey in some tea might help; they add,     “You might consider choosing a green tea, which serves as an                               antibacterial, pain reliever, and rich source of antioxidants, as well as               helps reduce inflammation.” Simply add a drop of honey in next time you       feel that sore throat approaching.

Tip #3 from ChiuTips:

– YouTuber Jennifer Chiu make videos entirely about health, beauty and             wellbeing; as someone who suffers with hayfever, allergies and repetitive       sore throats, she knows how important it is to stay healthy in these winter     months. Jen suggests popping a couple of drops of Eucalyptus Oil into             some boiling water and inhaling the steam with the aid of a towel over             your head (it makes more sense if you try it!)

Tip #4 from health.com:

– Health.com, another website full of handy health tips and tricks suggest a     super tasty remedy! They say that even marshmallows could help with a         sore throat; “Sap from the marshmallow plant has been used for                         hundreds of years – usually in tea form – to treat coughs, colds, and sore        throats” and whilst it may be very different to the sweet treats of the same    name may help as the gelatin in them can coat and sooth the throat.

Tip #5 from Home Remedies & Health Tips:

– Another YouTube Channel, HR&HT provide a free service for general and       educational purposes to help inform the general public of general health         advice. In their video on sore throats, they suggest that the key to                       recovering is vitamin C; one of the key vitamins needed in our body,                 vitamin C, or lack thereof can answer for many common illnesses                       including colds and sore throats. Whilst you can take vitamin C tablets,           other naturally high sources of vitamin C include fruits such as apples and     oranges.

Bonus Tip! From HomeYog:

– HomeYog is a YouTube channel devoted to wellbeing, the word Yog being     a Sanskrit work meaning well being. In their video, they have a bit of a            wacky approach to curing a sore throat; cutting up one large potato,                  boiling it until soft, draining the juices through a nylon sieve into a cup          and drinking 1/2 a cup of this remedy, hot, three times a day. Would you          try it?

If you would like to learn more about any of these remedies, then please see the links included in the blog.

Back to Love, Back to Reality

This week we have been bringing back more songs from our choir-history! ‘Back to Life’ by the talented Soul II Soul and ‘One Love’ by legend, Bob Marley have both been big hits with the choir in the past and they are again now. With everyone foot-tapping and head-bopping along, we’re immensely enjoying this trip down memory lane and look forward to entertaining you with these songs and many more in this year’s concert. Do you want to try these songs amongst countless other great hits as well as some incredible world-songs? Pop down for a free trial or contact us with any queries.

Sing your way to better prospects!

Image credit: Uplift Project

Did you know that singing can make you smarter? Research suggests that singing may help to grow and enhance the cells in your brain that are responsible for learning.

Dr Brian McDonough says that during a study conducted examining young song birds using “high-resolution imaging revealed structural changes to the brain within 24 hours of learning their first song. Cells related to learning in the brain became larger and there are similar changes in human brains” shown in human trial results.

The research conducted some eight years ago is still entirely viable today as we see more and more community choirs blooming. This phenomenon can be seen all over the world with groups of people coming together to sing in a multitude of different ways, growing their mental learning centres, improving their memory and developing their social skills.

So it might be that singing from an early ago might improve your ability to learn and so enhance your chances with education and cognitive development, however it is not only young people that might benefit.

Studies have shown that singing can even stave off the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia. Results have been quite effective, but it isn’t just the science that you must inspect: music tutor, Nancy Salwen, has first hand experience of the disease and how music can help. She says that whilst teaching a early music class in a nursing home, “Some of the residents who attend have dementia and don’t seem to be that aware of what’s going on. But once we start singing, tapping out a beat, and particularly if we sing a song they know from their past, they join right in! The know the words; they smile, they look around. They connect”. This could mean massive advancements in the treatment and prevention of both conditions and could mean saving the memory of hundreds of thousands of people.

Studies like the above and many more around the world have great meaning and show that singing, whether you think you can carry a tune or not, can make you a healthier and potentially a better learner.

If you’re interested in anything you’ve read above or just want to try out a fun packed and social choir who sings a wide variety of music and asks only for enthusiasm and a willingness to learn, pop down for a free trial rehearsal or contact us with any queries.

Sources: CBS, The Fear of Singing Breakthrough Project

Background reading: Uplift ConnectBBC iWonder

Walk!? How about SING like an Egyptian!

This week we have been learning how to Walk Like an Egyptian!; the song by The Bangles was a hit in 1986 when it was released and to this day remains popular! We love how wacky it is – but we bet you won’t recognise the version we sing! Arranged by the wonderful choir leader, Emily, we sing a swing version with the addition of the world’s most fun instrument – the Kazoo! We can’t wait to learn more of this song and more for the concert this year. If you would like to try this and other fun songs out, pop down for  a free trial or contact us with any queries.