North Essex is alive with the sound of music thanks to a woman whose life has been transformed by singing.
After the break-up of her marriage and being diagnosed with ME, Karen Hughes decided to start Sing Out Loud, community singing groups in Colchester and Chelmsford, and she has never looked back.
It’s well known that singing can improve your well-being both physically and psychologically and Karen is living proof of the health benefits.
“I decided to start Sing Out Loud after a low point in my life, when I was beginning to recover from a physical breakdown,” said Karen of Maldon.
“It was singing, and being involved in Sing Out Loud, that made me more confident and helped to bring ‘me’ back to life, inside my own skin. For quite a while, it was like my body was walking round, but I was so very broken, and fragile inside, that it wasn’t really recognisable, as me, any more.”
“Now, I know how to carefully manage my time, energy and what I do, each week. I run Sing Out Loud on a voluntary basis, which always keeps me busy. I know my limits, and occasionally, I have to give in and say ‘No more – at least, for now!’
As you walk through the door to join Sing Out Loud in Colchester or Chelmsford, you feel the friendly atmosphere and are welcomed by smiling faces of all ages, singing with voices of all ranges and abilities.
You don’t have to be able to read music to join, either, as the songs are learnt by ear under the expert tuition, of Brian Crockett. Using a guitar for accompaniment, Brian teaches a variety of songs, from Eric Clapton and The Beatles, to Folk, plus songs from the shows, along with tunes from the 1930s, 1960s, and contemporary melodies. Some of the songs have harmonies or are sung in rounds. During the tea break members get chance for a chat and to get to know each other.
For Grace Perkins, 87, of Colchester, Sing Out Loud is her one night out of the week. She said: “I love it and look forward to going, all week. Everyone is lovely and friendly. You meet some nice people and we all enjoy ourselves. It makes me feel uplifted and alive and I’ve made some new friends.”
A general service manager, Chris Brown, 64, of Chelmsford said: “I’m learning to play the piano and singing along as you’re playing helps. You do feel good after attending Sing Out Loud. Afterwards, I get in my car and find I’m belting out the songs all of the way home.”
Liz Allen, 63, of Chelmsford said: “There’s a lovely friendliness at Sing Out Loud. At some groups the members aren’t friendly, but here, everyone is welcome, whatever your talent or ability.”
The Sing Out Loud community singing groups welcome invitations to perform at local fund raising events and festivals and recently sang at Willingale Village Fayre near Chelmsford, at Galleywood Festival and at the Spirit of The Corn Festival, at the Museum of Power in Langford.
All are welcome to the Sing Out Loud groups and you don’t have to audition to participate. The groups meet for 10 weeks during term time at The Quaker Meeting House, Colchester, CO1 1NF, on Mondays at 7pm for 7.15 pm