Though life in the city tends to get hectic, a group of about 40 Torontonians has found a place where they can get together once a week and sing their worries away.
The group gathers Mondays at Lawrence Park Community Church at 2180 Bayview Avenue to take part in My Pop Choir. The organization offers fun choral singing lessons – with a focus on pop music – for people of any and all levels of training and ability.
The Lawrence Park branch is one of several My Pop Choir locations, with others in Etobicoke, Ancaster, Georgetown, Burlington and Oakville.
“It got started just to meet a need,” said Lawrence Park branch choirmaster Kent Andrews. “It dovetails with a culture that’s moving more toward singing experiences with shows like Glee and the Sing-Off.”
A big part of the appeal, Andrews said, is that the choir is open to anyone and is geared toward ensuring the members have a good time while improving their singing skills
“They may not be musicians, but they have a love of singing,” he said.
My Pop Choir offers three terms a year, in spring, fall and winter. Each term consists of 10 sessions, which are generally about 90 minutes long apiece.
As the term progresses, the choirs work their way through a variety of pop music tunes, each of which are simple enough to get through in one to two lessons. The choir is split into two vocal groups so they can harmonize and add a little extra flair to favourites such as Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” the Beatles’ “In My Life” or Toto’s “Africa.”
Andrews said the key to the choir’s success is that everyone from experienced singers to those who have never sung outside of their own car is placed on equal footing.
“The idea behind it is that there are no auditions and people are never pointed out if they miss a note, they’re never embarrassed, they’re just allowed to come in and sing,” he said.
That allows each individual singer to blossom within the group.
“I had one woman in one of the choirs who had a very difficult situation,” Andrews said. “She was a single mom who works full-time and this made her so much more confident. She told me recently ‘I didn’t even know I had a voice.’”
Suzanne Coxon and her daughter Zoe have taken part in three sessions and plan to keep coming back for more.
“We both really like to sing and Zoe’s involved with other choirs, but those are more serious and this one’s more fun-oriented,” said Suzanne Coxon.
For her part, Zoe enjoys being exposed to new music.
“I’m more interested in stuff like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera so now I’m learning a lot of new stuff,” she said.
Fellow member Rosemary Ward loves singing, but she is every bit as much a fan of My Pop Choir due to the social benefits.
“I’ve made a lot of friends here who I’m happy to see every week,” she said.
My Pop Choir is about to finish its fall session with an All-Choir Sing, in which the various branches join together for a huge show in Oakville. The winter session will start on Monday, Jan. 7.
For more information on My Pop Choir, visit www.mypopchoir.com