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  • Writer's pictureTanya Lawrence

At Ease...

When it comes to careers outside the services, there's a lot of positivity

around the transferable skills of ex-military personnel. But what about

hobbies and social life? In my observations, this can sometimes be a

bit of a stumbling block for some veterans.

Sure, they appreciate the value of proper training, which, it seems, is

what has brought so many of them to my studio for private singing

lessons. And great students they make, too. Always on time, they listen

to and follow my advice. They do their homework. However, some (men

in particular) report finding no fulfilment in taking those carefully honed

skills into karaoke bars and pubs. What they're seeking (significance

and social connection) is simply not to be found in that environment.

Now, I appreciate the value in letting your hair down and having a good

old fashioned sing-a-long as much as the next person. I've spent a

share of my leisure times doing exactly that. Long live the great British

pub! However, I also know the value in developing singing skills in a

more structured, sober environment.

Nothing is quite so satisfying as learning and developing new skills as

part of a group. Teamwork is a much talked about concept in the civilian

world. Yet, all to often, colleagues assigned to work-place teams have

no visceral frame of reference as to what that actually entails. To ex-

military folk, it's instinctive. They know that nothing worth doing can be

accomplished alone. They genuinely care about the team as a whole

and each individual within it.

So, a choir can feel like very familiar ground. A choir is a team. A choir

has sections within it, each assigned a particular musical task. A choir

sings and moves as one unit. It can take years before a civilian choir

turns that corner. Military folk, though, can do it in weeks.

At least, this is what I'm finding with our recently formed Fylde Coast

Veterans Choir. Our first recruits, based in Thornton, are shaping up as

a team before my very eyes. Their willingness to follow instruction is

yielding remarkably fast results.

Fundamentals like counting beats and singing or moving in time can be

a challenging concept for many civilian amateur singers. For ex-military,

not so much. Moving as a unit “on parade” comes naturally to them. The

one barrier we've had to break through, is the resistance to enjoying

the music and expressing individual and group personality through it.

The subtle change from squared off movement to the more relaxed

styles can be disorienting for some.

It's one thing marching to traditional, British, military beats. What about

letting loose and swinging to jazz or soul music? The “choreography” as

such, is exactly the same: Left, right, left, right, opposite arm to leg, in

time, in line, in the same direction, start and stop together. But what

about when “One, two, one, two” becomes “One and two, three and

four”? That's when the fun begins. And what fun we had at last night's

rehearsal, grooving around the room to Michael Bublé's fabulous

arrangement of “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”.

It's such a thrill for me to see faces, at first so serious, breaking into

wide smiles as the swing “feel” of the music begins to break down

inhibitions. Yes, dear reader, this little choir has potential. Sure, we've a

way to go yet, but this brave few will be my first public ambassadors for

the concept of a choir made up of ex-service personnel. We've many a

mile-stone to pass before The Fylde Coast Veterans Choir is ready to

take to a big stage. But what fun they can have along the way, basking

in the triumph of having sung their first team song at a veterans

breakfast or lunch club. Then the next, and the next.

These are the stepping stones to success. One or two songs, sung to

just a few people at a time, building performance experience and

confidence as we go. Adding to our ranks, one singer at a time.

That's where you come in. Help us grow the choir. Like and follow our

page, Better still,

share it to your friends and family. If you know a veteran, tell them

about us. You might just might help light up a lonely life.

Writing: 'Try Something New'
At Ease: Try Something New

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