Sunday, 13 November 2011

Singing with the nuns.

Yesterday I spent the day in a decommissioned convent with my choir.  Usually we rehearse for about two and a half hours once every fortnight and this six hour block of time was a much anticipated luxury.  We were in a room which had previously been a dormitory in the Abbotsford Covent.  At one end the walls were pink with an area of pink tiling, clearly indicating where the bathroom had once been, marking it out from the institutional green of the rest of the room.

The room was on the first floor, light and airy with wonderful views of the gardens.  We sounded fantastic in this room with its live acoustic.  There was a festive feel as we had all brought food to share for lunch and afternoon tea.  This didn't feel like a rehearsal.  It felt like a party!  The grounds were busy with people breakfasting in the nearby cafes, fortifying themselves for their morning shopping at the nearby farmers' markets. They would have live music to accompany their repast.

From our warm up improvisation, it was clear that this day was going to be a special day for our singing.  We took the word "alleluia" and sang for the nuns who had lived within the walls.

I've written before about some of the bizarre behaviour that can hold choirs hostage, but yesterday there was none of that evident.  Human beings singing together in harmony and unaccompanied is miraculous.  The energy and bonding that occurs with this kind of singing is palpable and invigorating.  There are no stars, yet the whole sound is only possible because every individual is contributing and taking responsibility for their part. It's the ultimate team effort.  Looking around the room at the faces of my fellow singers, I felt deep affection for these people whom I've known for about a year and see a couple of times a month.

Sharing food together for lunch was a fitting thing to do.  We were blessed with a magnificent array of delicious food which had been generously and thoughtfully prepared and we had time to speak to each other.

We learnt four new songs and polished up the rest of our repertoire.  It's amazing what can be done with focus and commitment.

At the end of the day, we headed over to see Handsome Steve for an end  of day drink.  I asked the man behind the bar if he was Handsome Steve.  He met my eyes.  I felt the need to tell him I hoped he didn't mind that I'd had to ask.  It was awkward, so I introduced myself as Beautiful Tanya!

I went home feeling refreshed and joyful.  Those endorphins are powerful things.  If you haven't discovered the wonder of singing in a group regularly what are you waiting for?


  1. You dulcent tones were missed at Tony's Gospel workshop. Rose asked after you and said it had been too long since you caught up. We had lots of fun and improvised some naughtiness as well!!

  2. Thanks Warwick. Isn't it great that there was so much singing happening in Melbourne this weekend!