Praise for Michael's community choirs
Michael runs community choirs in Oxted, Surrey, Tonbridge, Kent and in his hometown of Hastings, East Sussex. The choirs are open to absolutely everyone who has a passion for singing, whether trained or not. Anyone can sing; sometimes they just need a little help learning how to do it! It's important to Michael that the choirs genuinely remain part of the community and so they regularly perform at local events or stage performances in aid of local charities. Below are just some of the comments from his current choir members:
"The choir helped me because it helped me to mix with the general public again after some very frightening past experiences. Singing also helped me to express how I was really feeling, without anybody knowing my past. When leaving the choir in the evening I felt I was buzzing. Singing has been my major passion in life to feel good."
"I feel the choir gives people a sense of belonging and community no matter what your background is."
"A sense of belonging..."
"Being in the choir energises and uplifts me. Connecting with people through singing gives me a sense of belonging."
Hastings Voice Squad rehearsing. Photo by John Cole
"I joined Voice Squad because I love soul, gospel and reggae. I do love a lot of the songs we sing, but what really makes the choir for me is Micky's approach. He is supportive, humorous and has a real sense of fun. I am gradually gaining confidence, and learning to hold a note simply through practice, and being around stronger singers, and am having a really good time on the way. I have been surprised at the (good) physical effects of singing and am now encouraging my friends to join choirs too!"
"The choir for me is a great way to get out of my normal life and get some music therapy. With Michael's thoroughly warm welcome I settled into singing with/in front of others in no time and now it makes up a necessary part of my week. Michael offers plenty of encouragement and really knows his stuff so is able to get the most from anyone, regardless of their current talent levels. Music is such a powerful thing and the joy that can be had singing and better yet, improving musical abilities, is not to be underestimated."
Oxted Glee Choir performing in aid of children's charity Rainbow Trust
"Music is something everyone should have more of..."
"Coming to the choir is one of the highlights of my week; making music with a group of other people is such an uplifting thing to do. You really make the choir successful for several reasons: a) you really know what you are doing and your tremendous musical skill gives us confidence, b) you have a way of staying good-humoured and making everyone feel good, no matter how many mistakes we make. You push us to work hard and achieve more than we thought possible which is very exciting- and definitely good for the brain! I think you would be fantastic working with vulnerable people because you are always encouraging and kind and music is something everyone loves and should have more of. I can say that singing in the choir has made me feel more confident and generally good about myself!"
"I learnt a lot more about myself..."
"My Tuesday night at choir is a time when I can forget about the stresses of the day and sing my heart out and it feels like therapy! There is something very special about a group of people coming together to learn a song and make it sound great. The guidance of having a professional coach who is very patient and encouraging gives you confidence even if you don¹t have any previous experience. I have learnt some valuable singing skills, a lot more about myself and how to work as a team. I feel like I¹m a part of something special with some great people. I¹d recommend it to anyone!"
"When I sing it is like my heart is singing from my soul."
"I joined the choir after deciding that I ought to do something that was outside my comfort zone as I was leading a very quiet rural life not meeting many people or going out much. I had no idea that I would enjoy it so much, after all....I can't sing! I love going to choir, singing just makes me smile. I love the people there, so friendly and happy. I love Micky our choir master. He keeps us focused and inspires us with his enthusiasm. He arranges all our music and gives us wicked harmonies to sing. Yes...I love Tuesday nights."
"An uplifting and joyful experience..."
"It's great to be part of such a welcoming group where I don't have to sing perfectly, just enthusiastically. Micky's energy and passion for music is infectious and whatever mood I arrive in, I leave with a smile on my face a spring in my step. Voice squad is an uplifting and joyful experience. It's amazing what a group of people from all backgrounds can achieve together vocally in just a couple of hours a week."
"I don’t see Hastings Voice Squad as your traditional choir. We are a warm, open, friendly and definitely slightly mad bunch that get together every week for the sheer enjoyment. Creating a bond with a shared goal and experience, real camaraderie. As in life we are each of us different in our own way, we all fit in here as one… opening our hearts and souls to the music. Thanks to Micky, who leads the group with his boundless enthusiasm and good humour, we are all on a weird and wonderful journey of discovery."
Oxted Glee Choir and Hastings Voice Squad perform for animal charity Blue Cross
"I love music (particularly reggae!) and I wanted to join a choir so that I could sing with others the songs I like. I thought it would be great to hear my favourite tunes reinterpreted and rearranged for a choir. To be honest though, what really keeps me coming back is being part of a lovely group of people. I've made new friends and I love the fact that we're all in it together. There's no hierarchy - we're all the same in the choir and we're all equally important. I especially like the fact that our choir is not too big and I think that contributes to my feeling of commitment to it. We all have a voice and an opinion that I think is able to be heard in a group this size too. If I didn't turn up I would feel like I let others down too. I love the way we all help each other out, from printing out music if somebody can't do it themselves, giving each other lifts to and from sessions (and gigs) - it's probably the highlight of my week. I've done evening classes before, but because of this feeling of belonging to a group, it keeps me coming back week after week. I hate it when the choir leader is off! However bad or whatever kind of stress I've had during the week, I am ALWAYS glad I made the effort to get to that two hours a week of sheer joy and pleasure!"
"I am proud to be a part of it..."
"What we have is something words cannot always say, it's a feeling that we all experience when we come together and it shows in our faces. I challenge anyone who joins not to walk out of the session without smiling. It's like 'One Love' for all and I am proud to be part of it."
Hastings Voice Squad at the Marina Fountain, in aid of St. Michael's Hospice.