LIFE ON THE LOUNGE: Community choir
About 20 years ago, I left my book club and found something far more uplifting; my local choir.
Instead of listening to someone opine about their chosen tome, I had to listen to other voices and form harmonies.
In joining the choir, I have had to overcome any shyness about my voice (an alto), progressing from singing under the shower (great acoustics) to other members' lounge rooms and on occasion, singing in front of an audience in a community hall.
Sadly, these past few weeks our 30-plus choir, Firebirds, hasn't been able to meet in person because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But our choir master, Chris Purcell, has come up with a novel way of singing from our own lounges, while still as a group.
We are all connected to the internet and each Monday, we log on to Zoom and have a "virtual" singalong.
The first few sessions were awkward; singing in front of your computer and trying to harmonise with members remotely.
Also, there's no chat at the end over a cuppa or glass of wine.
But it's a way of keeping singing and I have since discovered a whole community of virtual choirs.
In fact, singing with a group from the comfort of your own lounge has been a phenomenon since 2009, with The Virtual Choir notching a membership of more than 8000 singers from 120 countries.
Then there was the first Virtual Youth Choir, launched in 2014, with more than 2250 young singers from 80 countries.
They had their premiere at the opening ceremony of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Virtual choirs have gone viral in this time of self-isolation
A personal favourite is Pub Choir, with director Astrid Jorgensen evolving this to Couch Choir to suit the times.
They recorded a rendition of Burt Bacharach's Close to You in just two days, posting the result on YouTube.
Their efforts have been highlighted on morning television and drawn millions of admirers.
I believe we are all born to sing and while not all of us hit the high notes like Maria Callas, there's still room for those of us who enjoy filling our lungs and exhaling a song which has been ruminating through our minds.
You don't have to read sheet music to enjoy singing, indeed, listening to others then forming a harmony, a capella, requires more concentration and effort than reading scores.
The internet has made singing accessible, largely because lyrics to your favourite tune can be found at the touch of a keyboard.
(For years while singing Christmas carols, I wondered why shepherds washed their socks by night.)
You can choose whatever song you'd like to sing.
Our choir has a broad range, from Neil Young's Mother Earth to Henry VIII's Pastime with Good Company.
Shake off any self-consciousness and put your tonsils to the test. Don't keep your voice just for the shower. Move to the lounge, sing along and see your spirits soar.