My name is Liz Yoxall. By day I am a project manager working in the education sector, but by night I become Lizzie, Musical Director, Choreographer and general guide, supporter and all round cheerleader for Glee Bah Gum, Sheffield’s only true community choir. This month we were shortlisted for an Epic Award, a UK wide peoples choice competition showcasing the very best in amateur art and craft activity across the UK and Republic of Ireland and particularly awarding those groups that have some community impact.
I would of course love everyone reading this to log straight on to epic awards and click the green thumbs up for Glee bah Gum, but first I would like to share my story with choir. I have always loved music, recorder lessons at primary school, key board lessons at secondary and then in the last 6 years a bit of singing and am dram musical theatre, no starring roles but always a lot of fun.
In late August 2011 I was asked to help out on a one-off charity concert raising money for young people struggling in employment & education and very quickly found myself in my current role. For 2 months a small group of us worked together and in November 2011 we made it to our concert raising over £1000 for the cause in the process. However the real legacy of this ‘One-off performance’ was the confidence and love for music it had provided to the participants, many of whom had never sung in public before. It was decided that we would continue to meet and set up a true Community Glee Club – Glee Bah Gum!
We are not a traditional choir in that our main focus is not the performances we make but instead it is the impact we have on our members and in our local community. Our main aim is to break down all possible barriers to participating in music. We listened to the reasons our original participants had not taken part in anything like this before and we make sure those barriers don’t exist anymore. ‘I cant get child care’ – Thats ok, bring them with you, our youngest member came to his first rehearsal aged 2 weeks.
‘I can’t sing or read music’ – Everyone can make music and we don’t mind if it is not quite in tune, this is about fun. We don’t audition and if you want 1 to 1 or small group lessons to improve one of our more experienced members of the choir will volunteer to help.
‘I cant afford to get involved with a group’ – We keep our subscriptions to a minimum, 25p per rehearsal with a foot note in a constitution that says no one will ever be stopped from participating due to financial constraints.
Me (liz) at the helm leading the choir during a performance
The list could go on as we keep listening but the point is you wont find quite so diverse or welcoming a group anywhere, we may not be the best choir in terms of musical ability but we are the ones having the most fun and making the most impact on our members and the community. In thelast 12 months I have worked with a small volunteer committee ranging in age from 16 upwards to move from just being 12 people ‘having a bit of a sing’ to a real Glee club with committee, constitution and over 35 members form all back grounds and levels of abilities. We now 5 performances under our belt, all of which raised money for projects in our local community, despite us starting out with no cash or bank account of our own.
I am now pleased to say we have both and are a sustainable organization I might have my back to the audience when we perform but I believe I have the prime spot. I get to see young people who were too shy to speak up when they started at Glee Bah Gum sing their first solo and the looks on their faces when the audience cheers. I get to watch people who have previously felt isolated take part in fund raising events in their area make friends and become part of their local community.
I get to watch people of all ages and abilities learn from each other and grow in musical ability but more importantly in confidence and self esteem and I know that with out this group of people I would not have some of the skills I have today, leadership, confidence, public speaking and conducting.Right at the start of this blog I said music had always been in my life, what didn’t mention was that I have never done anything like this before despite being able to sing had no real knowledge of teaching music or musical theory. Despite doing this for nearly 15 months I still panic at every rehearsal that I am not good enough to lead these amazing people…then I watch them rehearse, perform and make an impact and they inspire me to believe I am good enough to step up to this challenge.
To support us it just takes two clicks first on epic awards and then on the green thumbs up next to Glee Bah Gum (a few more if you copy and past this link to help us get the message further)
JCI Sheffield Member
Categorised in: Charity
This post was written by Solveig Malvik