ANY­ONE CAN JOIN

Caro­line Red­man Lusher nur tured Rock Choir, now known as “the big­gest na­tional cul­tural move­ment of the decade”…

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Joy and hap­pi­ness – that’s what we do,” Caro­line Red­man Lusher en­thuses. It’s a short and sweet sum­mary of the phe­nom­e­non known as Rock Choir, the na­tion­wide group of con­tem­po­rary choirs.

“Our mem­bers are am­a­teur singers,” ex­plains Caro­line, who founded the or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2005. “Some join sim­ply be­cause they love singing, oth­ers to meet new friends, or just to try some­thing new.

“Through Rock Choir they make friend­ships, de­velop self-con­fi­dence and achieve all sorts of chal­lenges. It’s a multi-lay­ered ex­pe­ri­ence.

Our Rock­ies are all at dif­fer­ent places in their lives but the end re­sult for all of them is joy and hap­pi­ness.”

“We might now be 28,000 mem­bers strong but there is still a fam­ily feel. That’s how it evolved. My dad – now fondly known as ‘Cap­tain Rock Choir’ – helped me set it up and re­mains a big part of it. I was brought up with mu­sic – Dad would blast out ELO and other mu­sic of that era. Mum was into ABBA and I’d sing along. I won a mu­sic schol­ar­ship I was lucky enough to com­plete a de­gree in mu­sic be­fore work­ing pro­fes­sion­ally for five years.”

“I went on to teach at a sixth form col­lege in Sur­rey, where I was asked to help per­form­ing arts stu­dents who weren’t able to read mu­sic. I sug­gested they gather around the piano to sing and I made up some har­monies which I taught them by rote. That small group of stu­dents on a Wed­nes­day lunchtime ended up be­ing a joy­ous, 170-strong group of stu­dents from all dif­fer­ent cour­ses. Even­tu­ally one of the mums said, ‘Can’t you do one for us par­ents?’ So with my boyfriend (now my hus­band) Stu­art’s en­cour­age­ment and a loan from Dad, I left the col­lege to set up a choir. Mum came up with the name Rock Choir, and I put a poster up in the

We might be 28,000 strong now, but there’s still a fam­ily feel to it

lo­cal café. It was as sim­ple as that. Then, as now, there was no re­quire­ment to read mu­sic and no need to au­di­tion. The flood­gates opened for any­one who loved to sing.”

“I’d seen the con­fi­dence and achieve­ments of the stu­dents soar, but of course adults have dif­fer­ent sorts of prob­lems go­ing on in their lives, and I won­dered if Rock Choir would have the same im­pact. It did!

“Our mem­bers of­ten share their sto­ries with us, telling us how the choir has had such a pos­i­tive im­pact on their per­sonal re­la­tion­ships, their fam­i­lies and work. I’m es­pe­cially proud of peo­ple who tell me they no longer take an­tide­pres­sants af­ter be­ing on them for years – how amaz­ing is that?”

All the choirs learn and per­form the same songs each sea­son, along with a few sim­ple chore­ographed moves.

“We have lo­cal choirs as far apart as Ab­erdeen in Scot­land and Hel­ston in Corn­wall, but the con­cept is that we re­main as one choir, con­nected and per­form­ing as equals. I choose songs which fall into two camps – ei­ther feel­good, up­beat songs or emo­tional and an­themic. I ar­range them mu­si­cally to make them work for a choir, en­sur­ing the phras­ing works, there is vo­cal range and that the three har­mony parts have equal melodies. If I start with an 80s song I en­sure I coun­ter­act it with a cur­rent song be­cause of the spread of ages in­volved – Rock­ies cur­rently range from 18 to

94, and 2.6% are men and they are well loved! We have ac­tu­ally had some wed­dings be­tween mem­bers and even ba­bies born.”

“As adults there is al­ways so much to deal with in life. When I can see the im­pact singing makes on mem­bers and the multi-lay­ered ex­pe­ri­ence around it, I can only imag­ine what a highly pro­duc­tive, emo­tion­ally bal­anced and nicer place our world would be if ev­ery­one joined a choir. They would be feed­ing their souls through singing and ac­tu­ally hav­ing some fun again.”

“We now have over 400 choirs around the coun­try, per­formed thou­sands of times at events, and on TV and ra­dio, we have sev­eral en­tries in the Guin­ness Book of World records, made an al­bum at Abbey Road. I now have the op­por­tu­nity to make Rock Choir an in­ter­na­tional con­cern, but our ethos and cul­ture re­main the same, as does that sense of ‘fam­ily’.”

“Be­ing with mem­bers, mak­ing them feel part of this spe­cial fam­ily, part of one choir and shar­ing that joy and hap­pi­ness – that will al­ways be the most im­por­tant thing to me.”

There are now over 400 choirs across the coun­try Find your lo­cal Rock Choir by en­ter­ing your post­code at www.rock­choir.com. For more in­for­ma­tion call 01252714 276

Igrewup with mu­sic

“Rock­ies” come from all walks of life

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