Loosen up your vocal chords because the newly established Woolwich Choral Society is looking for your voice.
Launched by Woolwich Healthy Communities, the choir is free to join and aims to improve township residents’ wellness through the mental and physical benefits of singing.
Nancy Stayzer will be accompanying the choir on piano and Lisa Shuh will direct. Stayzer says the idea for the group was born out of a desire for a healthy activity in Woolwich that isn’t physically strenuous.
“Most of the things that we do, like plant trees and clean up day, is a more physical activity,” Stayzer said. “This year we were brainstorming ways to do something a little different, get more people interested in a less active activity.”
She said the main point is to have fun, and she’s also heard that people who sing together build community spirit, and a lot of networking comes out of it.
Despite retiring from teaching after 31 years, Stayzer often returned to St. Jacobs Public School to help Shuh, who was the music teacher, put together musicals and accompany the choir. Shuh retired a year ago, so Stayzer thought it would be fun for them to do something musical outside of school.
They introduced the idea of choral singing back in the fall at Woolwich Healthy Communities’ volunteer appreciation evening, a group Stayzer is a part of and where the idea came from.
“Lisa and I did a bit of an introduction to choral singing,” Stayzer said. “We taught them songs, there were probably 30 people and most of them signed up to come out starting next Tuesday night for six weeks.”
She said they plan to do fun music, like folk songs, and something with a bit of “food flavour” for their first performance at Taste of Woolwich.
“We’ll take a variety of songs to the first rehearsal and get an idea what the group is interested in and what sounds good,” Stayzer said. “We have to start with a lot of different things and then narrow it down to what works with the group.”
The first rehearsal will likely be a busy one, since they’re not sure how many people to expect. They’ll also be helping people determine what section they should sing in through tone matching and determining their comfortable vocal range.
Stayzer says singing can be about a lot more than just a fun activity. It’s been shown to release endorphins, like exercise and it can provide a general sense of wellbeing.
“They say that people who sing in choral groups display a ‘joie de vivre;’ there are some people who say that it staves off winter blues or depression,” Stayzer said. “I think honestly that it’s fun. It’s just fun to be with people. It’s fun to sing with people.”
The group will rehearse through March and once in April before performing at Taste of Woolwich on April 13.
The first rehearsal will be at Bloomingdale Community Church on March 3 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The rest of the rehearsals will be held at Calvary United Church in St. Jacobs.
“We just want people to come out and have fun – then we’ll go from there.”