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Modern choirs for people who love to sing

Experiences of a newbie!

A huge thank you to Bonny Robinson for writing such a lovely piece on her experiences with inChoir; how she came to join, breaking new ground with her Cochlear implant, and onwards to both The Hawth and Edinburgh! This first piece covers up to our wonderful 10th anniversary concerts and Bonny's arrival in Edinburgh, with tomorrow's post delving deeper into the fantastic inChoir holiday that was our trip to the Fringe! So, sit back with your beverage of choice and enjoy!


"Following encouragement from good friends, who were already members of inChoir, and who I had watched several times when they sang at various local events, I went along one Wednesday morning in October 2018 to Clair Hall in Haywards Heath. I was now feeling a little unsure about what had seemed a good idea when we had discussed it over a bottle of very nice Merlot wine the weekend before!!

When I had been in the audience I really enjoyed the performances and marvelled at the fact that so many people from one area could come together and make such lovely music but also that they seemed to be enjoying it too!!! To be able to hear and enjoy music, albeit with a slightly electronic base to it, was a huge goal I have worked towards since I was fitted with a Cochlear Implant in 2014, but could I also join in and sing in tune? My Consultant and Audiologist were very honest and said that they had not heard of another Cochlear implantee who had joined a choir before but they encouraged me to try it. So off I went!

I am an Alto and knew no other people who sang in that range but I was made to feel very welcome by the alto group and though totally confused during the first few warm ups and wondering what on earth everyone was singing, I soon learned the format and settled in. As a lip reader for 30+ years I have become a visual learner, and so have had to learn to listen all over again – quite a challenge. Having the music and recordings of the songs on the inChoir website means I am able to learn the words/music in my own time and pace and be more confident to follow Mark and Karen, our choir leaders, at rehearsals. I found my inChoir experience so enjoyable and uplifting that I have been joining the group who meet on Monday evenings in St. Joseph’s School, as well as the Wednesday morning group, and intend to continue that when the autumn term starts – it’s a great start to the week and then I have Wednesday mornings to look forward too!

At a Cochlear Assessment in April I was thrilled to be told that my level of musicality scores were the best that had been recorded and the ‘hit the note’ test was 98% – I felt like a superstar and my Consultant and Audiologist at AIS Southampton were delighted. With that confidence boost, encouragement from the Southampton Team and fellow inChoir members, I decided that if I was lucky enough to get a place, I would sign up to sing with inChoir at the concert at the Hawth Theatre in Crawley in July and also travel to Edinburgh to sing at the Fringe Festival in August. I was very fortunate to get a place at both events and although I was very nervous I also looked forward to the experiences.

The Hawth felt like a leap into the dark that was cushioned by choir friends and leaders and supported by my family in the audience. My ‘big’ boys and daughters-in-law hugely enjoyed the varied programme, thought the singing was fabulous and were proud to be there to share with me in achieving something that would not have been remotely possible five years ago; apparently they were all sharing the tissues! My twelve year old grandson commented.........”that was amazing Grandma and you rocked!” I think that means he thought we were good and he liked us!

The four days in Edinburgh were surreal and I had to keep reminding myself that it was happening! Singing in St. Giles Cathedral and on the Mercat Stage (even in the rain!) was unbelievable and such fun. My travel companion and roommate was also a good friend, and a native Scot who knew Edinburgh well, so I felt confident when she said it was an easy 10 minute walk from Waverley Station to the Ibis Hotel……..oh dear! 30 minutes later we stood in Cowgate with her pointing to the bridge above saying “We should be up there!” We had already had “Let me just have a look down here” and “This looks familiar” plus changed direction a couple of times, so I decided to get the maps up on my phone. As I did, a very nice young man standing beside us giving out leaflets asked if he could help. I said we needed to be up there, pointing to the bridge and he said “Straight up here and turn right will get you there” and pointed up a steep hill. He then very kindly said, “Let me help you with your case” promptly taking my friend's case from her and leaving me to haul mine up behind me!!! Hey ho!

We arrived at the Ibis Hotel and were welcomed by two lovely Receptionists who checked us in and gave us key cards for our room on the 4th floor – almost there we thought; cup of tea and feet up time before dinner. I was a bit impressed when one of the Receptionists said she would show us to our room – my previous experiences of Ibis hotels had not included this service but I should have guessed then that things would not be straight forward. There was a two lift system which meant we went up in the first lift to Floor 3 and then crossed the Restaurant/Bar to another lift and then went up to Floor 4 and through a couple of corridors. ‘Simples’ as the Meerkats say but I had this sinking feeling that getting the hang of these two lifts could be troublesome and I was proved right!"

Read more about this and the rest of the trip by clicking here.