Hull Is This editor Jerome Whittingham @photomoments was invited to visit Hull Community Voices singing group, at one of their regular Thursday evening rehearsals.
Jerome spoke with group leaders Debbie Darmody and Jack Simmonds, who explained the singers’ passion for informality and fun, and their love of songs from diverse cultures all around the world.
We recorded several songs that demonstrate the wide variety of styles the singers enjoy.
It was a very enjoyable visit!
Leader Debbie Darmody explains further:
Hull Community Voices is a not-for-profit community singing group that welcomes adults of all ages and abilities to join us each week for a fun and informal evening. We do not audition new members and they do not have to read music as we teach all songs by ear. We especially welcome people who consider themselves as non-singers. We sing songs from a wide variety of cultures and are always keen to learn more about new singing styles and the cultures from which they have come. Our Thursday meetings are a regular session where people can come along just to enjoy singing. Some of the songs are short and can be picked-up quickly if you’ve missed a session. Longer songs learnt over several weeks are revisited with a re-cap.
Debbie came to singing later in life, being born and brought up in Hull. She joined Hull Community Voices five years ago, partly to help with the stress of work. It was a revelation to her just how beautiful a sound can be made with a small group of voices in harmony and she quickly discovered a love of music from around the world.
In 2017, she took the plunge and went on a week long residential training course with the Natural Voice Network, learning more about the practice of teaching unaccompanied singing to groups. Having no previous musical training, this has been a steep learning curve but Debbie revels in the enjoyment of hearing the group harmonising and seeing the joy that others get from singing together.
Jack Simmonds moved to Hull from Southampton to go to university here – and has been here ever since! His main passion is music for theatre; in his (scarce) spare time he likes to compose music and studied this in his time at the University of Hull. Jack has always had a passion for singing and has also worked with lots of groups of singers.
Hull Community Voices aims to be a welcoming and accessible group and in summary our aims are to:
- Increase people’s confidence, self-esteem and well-being through participation in singing
- Promote awareness and enjoyment of world music
- Actively encourage the involvement of non-singers
- Be a social opportunity that builds community
- Provide opportunities for members to develop their potential through informal participation or development through more formal training
- To create an environment that is non-stigmatising, supportive and engenders mutual respect
- Remove financial barriers that might prevent people from taking part in singing
Thursday sessions take place at the Quaker Meeting House on Bean Street, Hull between 7.30 and 9.00pm during school term-times. You don’t need to book, just turn-up. There is a small car-park at the Meeting House, otherwise there is on-street parking or Hull Royal Infirmary’s pay and display car park is close by. The Meeting House is accessible via ramps and all facilities are on one level.
The first session attended is free. Subsequent sessions are paid for on a pay-what-you-can basis. There is a suggested fee of £4.50/£4.00 per session but if this amount is not affordable, we would accept what you can afford. Each session focusses on how singing can help with the tensions and stresses of everyday life and begins with a short vocal warm up involving breathing and relaxation.
As well as our weekly sessions we hold occasional workshops/performances in the community which are a new way into group singing for some people. We believe that singing should be accessible to all regardless of previous musical ability or experience. Based in Hull, we aim to reach people living in various communities and across a wide age range and cultural background. We have a welcoming culture and many members of group have developed strong and lasting friendships, which is acknowledged by members as enriching their lives and supporting their well-being.
Our Facebook page and website have more information about the group.
If you have any questions or would like to know more, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
[Debbie Darmody – Hull Community Voices]
Podcast produced by Hull Is This editor Jerome Whittingham