Everything Else

Do you sing or play?

A picture of the St Helens U3A folk music group

Perhaps you are one of the thousands of U3A members who enjoy participating in a musical activity. Have you re-engaged with the singing or playing that you did years ago? If so, you will already be aware of how music can make us all feel better, both physically and mentally; how it challenges us to re-create what we perform as best we can; how it engages us socially with like-minded people.

As a subject adviser for many years it has been my pleasure to have had contact (‘phone or email) with so many U3As all over the UK. This has given me an overview of the range of musical activities within the U3A, regardless of numbers involved or level of ability. It is quite astonishing that most U3As have at least one music group and many have multiples. Have you considered joining one? Even if the music group in your own U3A does not suit your taste or ability, there may be one that appeals better in another U3A in your area.

If you think I might be able to help in some way (starting up, repertoire, money issues etc.) do get in touch by ‘phone or email.

A musical journey in the U3A

My own experience of music in the U3A has been as conductor of the Swanland U3A Choir in the East Riding of Yorkshire. We are a mixed ability, mostly ‘a capella’, S.A.T.B. choir, that has always included a number of retired professional musicians. Our concert venues are mostly close to home, and we have raised a great deal of money for a variety of charities.

If this sounds easy, it has not always been so! From a standing start 19 years ago, we had about 20 people who wanted to sing, no music, no money to buy any, and no idea where we were going – hence the idea of “a musical journey” – one of discovery.

In theory we can sing anything written between circa 1500 and the present day, so long as it is not too difficult, too dissonant, or in too many parts (we can just about manage 7!). There is a huge repertoire for us to explore and I have been on a steep learning curve to fill the gaps in my own knowledge of it.

Above all, and like other music groups in the U3A, we are a very friendly group that takes pleasure in making music. There are always a few problems associated with setting up and running a music group, but I do assure you that these are far outweighed by the advantages.