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Welcome to BIGMOUTH Chorus!

BIGMOUTH Chorus are a brand new and innovative non-audition singing group in Thanet for anyone aged 14 and over who loves to sing. You don’t need experience to take part and don’t even need to think you can sing! Our role is to support you in believing you can while having a great time. Get in touch if you or someone you know would like to join a fantastic and fun choir.

How to deal with a cold

With Winter just around the corner, the dreaded cold and flu season isn’t far behind. These bugs can wreak havoc with our voices and it’s important to know how to handle them.

Firstly, if you have a cold – DON’T SING. Your voice needs time to rest, trying to sing before it’s had that time to recover will only put them through unwarranted stress. Before trying to sing, make sure you try these tips to help your voice recover.

1. Drink LOTS of water
It’s that advice again! In all seriousness, many illnesses can cause the body to hold less water, so making sure you get those fluids in your system is even more important than usual.
Normally, we wouldn’t suggest ice water as the cold can shock your vocal cords, however, ice water can help reduce swelling. If you fancy mixing it up even more, a bit of lemon juice can give you a good shot of vitamin C to speed up your recovery.
The remedy most singers swear by is hot water, honey and lemon. Evidence suggests that honey has a protective effect against up to 60 kinds of germ and its thick texture helps soothe the throat, curbing irritation and reduce coughing which can tear the throat. It’s also a lot nicer than just plain old water. Additionally, the sugars in honey are helpful in fueling your body, especially if you don’t feel like swallowing – Lucozade was actually developed originally for people who were unwell and need that energy.
Pineapple or Grapefruit juice are also good if lemon doesn’t agree with you.

2. Get a little steamy
Not like that! Inhaling steam is a great way of lubricating the vocal cords and loosening phlegm (I know – gross but super helpful).
To do this safely, first, boil a kettle and gently pour the water into a large bowl. It’s important not to do it with water on the boil, say on a hob, as this can lead to scalding water hitting you in the face, which none of us want. The ideal distance from the surface of the water is 8-12 inches from the surface of the water.
When we drink, the fluid doesn’t pass directly over our vocal cords thanks to a little muscle that stops things accidentally ending up in our lungs. This, of course, means that the vocal cords themselves are not directly soothed by drinking. Steam, on the other hand, is perfectly suited to snake its way about our respiratory system and ease inflammation.

3. If you absolutely must sing – avoid lozenges
This is a bit trickier than the catchy headline suggests. Some lozenges contain painkillers which numb your throat and convince you you’re better than you really are. This can lead to you overtaxing your voice before it’s ready and causing long-lasting damage.
Other lozenges will dry out your throat, creating dryness which can irritate your throat more – it’s a temporary relief.
However, instead of suffering through, there are loads of anti-inflammatory drinks you can try:

Aloe vera juice,
Apple cider vinegar,
Black tea,
Green tea,
Chamomile,
Pomegranate juice,
Concord grape juice

4. Get plenty of rest.
When you’re asleep, your body runs repairs naturally. Being asleep also means you’re not wasting energy doing anything but fighting the illness.
There’s also the long-term health benefits of a proper sleep schedule. Lack of sleep can compromise our immune system making us more likely to succumb to something nasty.
Obviously, rest doesn’t always mean sleep though. Take things easy, don’t exert yourself too much and save your strength for fighting that pesky illness.

5 tips to take of your voice

Now that term is well and truly underway, we can stop telling you all the reason why you should join BIGMOUTH (you already know how fun it is!). Instead, as the cold weather rushes in, we thought it might be nicer to tell you how to take care of that voice you’re developing.

1. Drink plenty of water!
Drinking water seems like the go-to advice for everything, doesn’t it? For singing it’s especially important, as your throat can dry out for a number of reasons – medications like antihistamines, air conditioning, coffee, cigarettes. The list keeps going.
Drinking room temperature water helps maintain the balance of mucus in your throat (I know gross but important). When we drink, water doesn’t run over our vocal cords but is instead absorbed into the body the same way as food and distributed around the body. This means we have to take in plenty of water to make sure the whole body is nice and hydrated.
If our vocal cords dry out before we sing, it can create swelling which limits the amount of vibration we are capable of, which in turn severely limits our singing potential.

2. Get some rest!
I know, this post is starting to sound like your mum but poor sleep limits your performance. When tired, the body shows signs of fatigue, such as poor tone, diminished range and a lack of concentration.
We all know that singing is a physical thing, so the physical body is a supremely important thing to take of. Factors like posture are of key importance, so to run yourself down will only reduce your ability to fully commit.
Singing without a proper physical awareness can lead to problems such as vocal strain, as technique slips and the singer tries to compensate.
Of course, sometimes poor sleep can’t be helped but being aware and trying to pay that little extra attention to your body if you’re tired and singing can make all the difference.

3. Avoid Caffeine!
I know, I know, the day doesn’t start until the first coffee but excess caffeine can be diuretic, which means it affects your body’s ability to hold onto water.
But it’s not just coffee, caffeine can be found in most fizzy drinks and teas, and as result, it’s best to avoid any of those directly before singing. Remember, even decaffeinated drinks still contain some caffeine.
If you need that extra kick, it’s recommended that you drink plenty of water to help offset the caffeine.

4. Keep warm!
A cold body means cold muscles and cold muscles are tenser. Getting the body a little warmed up should be a vital part of singing preparation during the encroaching winter.
You’ll have probably seen opera singers wearing scarves and now you know why! It’s just a matter of style, it’s also a perfect tool to keep those vocal cords in top condition.

5. Don’t push yourself while sick
If you are sick, forcing yourself to sing can but extra pressure on your body. Many of the symptoms of illness are damaging enough for your voice, without adding to it by trying to soldier on.
Coughing shreds the vocal cords and trying to force yourself to sing can lead to coughing fits. If it hurts to sing, that’s your body’s way of telling you to take it easy.
There are lots of “quick fixes” for being ill, such as honey, lemon and turmeric, and all of those do have a use but they all have specific applications. Honey soothes, Lemon can dry out phlegm and turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. It’s probably just best you have a chat with your GP and find out what they recommend.
Sometimes, we can get a second wind before performing, when suddenly all the symptoms lift and you feel fine. This is caused by adrenaline, the same hormone that causes stage fright can carry you through but it’s usually a good idea to sit the show out, even to avoid getting other choir members sick.

So there we are, five top tips on maintaining the instrument you are developing with BIGMOUTH. If you’d like to join and find out more about your voice, we meet every Tuesday during term time, from 7:30 pm to 9:30 pm at Walpole Bay hotel in Cliftonville.

Making friends: how choirs build social bonds

Singing is incredibly vulnerable. We all want to be able to hold a perfect note, and the ability to produce a little melody on command is infinitely cool. However, many of us haven’t yet learned to use our voices effectively and thus we hide them away. We identify with out voices immensely, so when our voice is less than perfect we feel that we are less than perfect. A report in the American Psychology found out that we actually express more emotion with our voice than our face so it’s no wonder we want to guard them a little.

Singing in a group, like a choir, means letting people in a little and breaks down that social barrier. This is why choirs become tight-knit social groups. In a choir, everyone has seen everyone else share a little of themselves and it’s all okay! Choirs show that it’s okay to be vulnerable around some people and help you step outside your comfort zone and meet people halfway.

Some people retreat to the back and try to hide when they sing but the physical structure of the choir (the way people stand in a group for maximum impact) means that option isn’t available. This is another way that choirs demonstrate that they are safe spaces.

We’ve spoken before about how singing releases endorphins to the body (happy chemicals). As well as making you feel better, it also means everyone else is in that same state of happiness. As the stress of the world outside the choir fades away, everyone is their best self, making interactions between choir members naturally more positive. The other chemical released while singing is oxytocin, the hormone associated with feelings of unity and trust.

Lastly, and possibly the most powerful way that choirs dissolve social boundaries, working in a team is a sure fire way to build ties. Everyone in the room has the same goal, to make the best sounding music with their voices. Most people in choirs have doubts about their voices but they are also naturally attracted to working with others (natural team players).

If you want to come and experience the fantastic social upsides to joining a choir, we meet every Tuesday during term time, from 7;30pm to 9:30pm at Walpole Bay hotel in Cliftonville.

The unexpected side effects of choirs

We all know that singing in a choir can make you happier but in recent studies a whole host of other benefits have been unearthed. With the increase in happy hormones within our body, singing lowers blood pressure and stress levels but there is also evidence that suggests that taking part in a choir can alleviate the symptoms of depression, Parkinson’s and lung disease.

Fortunately for us our fearless leader Emily has worked with The Sidney De Haann Research Centre as a research assistant on their groundbreaking exploration of choirs and their benefits.

Depression

In a recent study by The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, over 1000 choral singers were interviewed and assessed on various aspects of personal wellbeing. Over 67% of professional choir singers agreed that singing had helped their mental health, while in a university choir society that number rose to 71%.

It is suggested that it is not just the community aspects that benefit them but the range of small skills we develop in practice. Things like improved posture and better breathing carry over to our daily lives and subtly improve our quality of life. For some, it is that release of tension and emotion they find through singing that helps them go about daily life with a renewed energy.

In studies, its even been proven that singing in a choir is better for your mood than even playing team sports. The speculation is that this is because no one “wins” in a choir, we all come together for the same goal and we all accomplish that together.

Parkinson’s

Parkinson’s is known for causing tremors throughout the body but one of the effects that isn’t spoken about often is the loss of voice. Vocal issues effect 60-80% of Parkinson’s sufferers, often leading to a flat, monotone voice and a lack of variation in volume and intensity. Difficulties with breathing are also common.

There are a number of interventions that help remedy these, however they don’t improve overall quality of life and the drop out rates in these therapies are high.

By working to strengthen the voice and the muscles that control it, singing is an effective technique in fighting off the progression of Parkinson’s. What really makes choir singing stand out is the social and emotional aspects. Diseases like Parkinson’s can be isolating, increasing the difficulty in maintaining a healthy social life but by combining the therapeutic aspect with a community, it encourages people to continue with the practice, far more than the sterile approach of some treatments.

Lung Disease

In another study by The Sidney De Haan Research Centre it was found that the attention paid to breathing actually helps fight COPD by strengthening the lungs and increasing the amount of oxygen in your blood.

Noted in the study was the ability to sing while seated, making it suitable for those who have suffered from the effects of COPD for a while. They even considered the exercise of singing as a moderate cardio workout.

Sufferers also gain a sense of power over their illness. For those times when they are singing, they don’t notice the effects of COPD. The anxiety they experience about their breathing, the short gaspy breaths, disappears. Their breathing is strong and confident.

Unlike many treatments, singing is cheap and suitable for almost all people. It’s also a lot more fun than turning up to a clinical hospital room to repeat certain actions. The improvements it makes to your mood have knock-on effects for the rest of your life.

Everybody Can Sing!

Singing is one of those talents that everyone wishes they possessed. There’s something really satisfying about being able to belt out a solid note on command or to drop jaws at a karaoke night.

Unfortunately for many of us, we get taught that we can’t sing and that it’s better for us to politely step aside when the microphone comes our way. We get obsessed with the idea that unless we have a five octave range, we’re not cut out to sing.

However, this is the big secret. Everyone can sing, it just takes practice.

We see the end result of practice all time, when we listen to any singer we admire, but we never see the hours spent doing vocal exercises or rehearsals. We get obsessed with the idea of talent as an innate thing but not the work to get there.

Performing vocal exercises can be a dull task however. Spending that time by yourself, repeating the same things over and over again but this is where a choir comes in! Learning to sing is much more fun in a group. It breaks up the monotony and it gives you an insight into how other people’s voices sound and how your voice fits into the wider scale of the choir.

Joining a choir like Bigmouth also means getting access to someone who knows how to teach singing. A great teacher knows how to tailor their teaching to suit the individual, and work with you to bring out the best in your voice. Being part of a group also gives you the confidence to give it your all, as any off-notes are hidden by the mass of others.

If you’d like to give it a try, BIGMOUTH Chorus meets Tuesday evening from 7.30pm-9.30pm on these dates at Walpole Bay Hotel

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 Bigmouth Chorus and en Choir in Whitstable, 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.

Until this recent resurgence, many were put off by the idea of frilly shirts and religious themes but as the door to the choral world opens, the fun side is on show. Gone are the formalities of traditional choirs (jeans and t-shirts are fine) and hymns (rock, pop and soul are the order of business). Singing in a group creates a kind of euphoric high, especially when you love the music being sung. It’s almost impossible to come along to a Bigmouth rehearsal and not find at least one song you love, and with an ever-growing list of songs arranged by our fearless leader Emily Peasgood, it’s only a matter of time before your favourite song gets the choral treatment.

This sharing of songs we love is a massive part of the community aspect of choirs. It’s the same kind of joy we find when we send songs to a friend and find out they love it too. Sometimes, singing in a group changes our opinion of songs, giving us a strong, positive memory attached to them.

Singing in a choir helps us tap into those skills we cherished so much as children, it encourages our sense of creativity, as well as bringing us together with like-minded people. A major reason people are joining is the sense of community. Joining a community choir is an easy way to meet and share interests with dozens of people, as well as developing a fun and highly sought-after talent.

We’ll go more into some of the benefits of a choir in the next few weeks, as we get ready for our new term.

It’s the Final Countdowwwn!

This is it ladies and gents! The final week leading to our annual concert next Friday 20 July.  We are also featuring in en Choir’s concert on Saturday 21 July too! Tickets for both events are available online here and on the door (subject to availability). Come on down for a fun, feel good evening or contact us with any queries – see you all there!

She’s Back! And she’s bringing her work with her…

As Emily returns and A Requiem for Crossbones comes to an end, the excitement does not – Emily says, “I’m excited to announce that for the first time one of my artworks is coming to my home town of Ramsgate!! Requiem for Crossbones will exhibit at Ramsgate Festival of Sound 2018 by Ramsgate Arts on Saturday 28 July – Sunday 29 July from 11am-5pm in Albion Place Gardens, on Albion Place.” With this unique new piece from our choir leader coming home, we are all buzzing with anticipation for what this could bring next for her and her career. Good luck!

Roll Up, Roll Up, It’s Nearly July

Yes ladles and gentlespoons, it is that time of year again! Our annual concert! Hard copy tickets have officially gone on sale!
If you know a member of the choir, ask them to grab your tickets at a rehearsal or contact the choir administrator, Elli to purchase tickets. They are also available on WeGotTickets.
Have you been thinking of joining enChoir but not sure, or think it is too late for this choir year? Come and have a listen at this year’s concert and see if you enjoy yourself or contact us with any queries.

Keep those eyes peeled!

A concert update this week; with choir leader, Emily Peasgood returned from installing her latest work, Requiem for Crossbones, the choir was buzzing with excitement for our final term of the choir year. To add to the excitement, posters and hard copy tickets have been ordered and are on the way so be sure to keep your eyes peeled – there may be a poster going up near you! Sound like a choir you’d like to try? Pop down for a free trial rehearsal or contacts us with any queries.