Vocal Reflections – a community in chorus

Vocal Reflections is a fun choir based in mid Essex and is open to anyone who enjoys singing, no matter how bad (or good!) they think they are!

Which is why CommunityAd made a point of sitting down and chatting with choir leader Lin Hargreaves to find out if singing (well or horrendously) really is the antidote to the winter blues.

So, Lin, what made you and Pete form Vocal Reflections?

I have always loved to sing; music has always been a huge part of my life and has given me so much enjoyment. Pete shares my passion for singing and when I suggested to him that I would love to start my own choir, it was his encouragement and support that made me think that it was something that would actually be possible! We booked a rehearsal room, initially at Notley High School, and later at Leighs Village Hall, put an ad in the local papers, got a small feature with Dave on his daytime show at BBC Essex and, on a Wednesday evening in March 2011, waited hopefully for a choir to appear! Any fears that it might not be a success were soon dispelled as, not only did people turn up to sing, they kept coming back, week after week!

In its nine-year existence what are some of the highlights? And how has the choir grown and developed in that time?

Where do we start with highlights! In 2013 we worked with local band Jack In Water at an event around Essex promoting the power of singing in the community, culminating in a concert at Thaxted Church. Also, in 2013 we were lucky enough to take part for the first time in the Voices Now festival at the iconic Camden Roundhouse in London, then again in 2015 and 2017. In 2016 we travelled to Birmingham, again for Voices Now which gave us the chance to meet and sing alongside other choirs from all over the country.

A day spent at Anglia Ruskin University’s incredible recording studios was also a day that we will never forget! Raising money for local charities with our friends in the cover’s duo Pros and Cons (Vic Leverett and Steve English) at events around Braintree, Chelmsford and Danbury is also something that gives us a lot of pleasure.

Science now backs the fact that singing is good for us, and singing as a group especially. So Lin, why is singing the perfect antidote to the winter blues?

Singing in a choir is a wonderful experience! There is no doubt, in my mind, that performing in a group helps to build confidence. We challenge ourselves in a friendly and supportive atmosphere – learning words to new songs, trying different tunes, even singing harmonies. When all these things come together, it gives you a buzz! I can have the worst day ever, be absolutely exhausted, but by the time we have spent a couple of hours singing our favourite (or new) songs, chatted, drunk tea, all the troubles of the day seem to disappear! Singing in a choir is good for body and soul!

What would you like to say to any readers perusing this article thinking to themselves ‘I should give that a go’? Why should they? And where and when can they do so?

There is nothing that gives us greater joy than welcoming new members to our choir. People have joined us over the years for so many different reasons – looking for a new hobby, looking to meet people and make new friends, or just because they have always wanted to sing. I have heard so many times “Oh, you wouldn’t want me – I’m a terrible singer!” To be honest, we don’t care! For us, our choir is about the total joy of singing, and for that you don’t need to be classically trained, able to belt out great rock anthems or an opera singer. Once you start singing in a choir, you find your voice, and it doesn’t matter how loud or powerful it is, it’s your voice, and joins together with all the other voices to create one big, magnificent sound! There are many choirs around, singing all different styles of music so there’s bound to be something to suit everyone. Vocal Reflections sing pop, rock, soul, musicals – anything really! Would love to see anyone on a Wednesday evening, 7.30 onwards at Leighs Village Hall, Boreham Road, Essex, CM3 1NH.

Finally, what makes Braintree such a lovely community to be a part of?

What makes a lovely community is the people in it, and there are some wonderful, inspiring people out there – unsung heroes promoting music, the arts, sport, education, youth groups etc. It is a rapidly growing community, with so much potential, the future is very exciting.


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