Isabelle Leger
Isabelle Leger
Arts & Lifestyle Editor Isabelle Leger is a fourth year journalism and communications student at St. Thomas University.
April 1, 2019

Choir hopes vocally-challenged musicians leave on high note

Photo submitted by Paper Bag Singers

Have you ever sung at the top of your lungs in your car? And, if anyone heard your pitchy vocals you would be mortified? Singing is something that a lot of us tend to enjoy, it makes us happy and is liberating from the stressers around us. But, for those of us who aren’t musically inclined, we tend to sing only when there isn’t a risk of being heard.  

A community choir, called the Paper Bag Singers, will be coming to Fredericton on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. Anybody is able to join, even those who can’t carry a tune.

The tagline is, “Individually we can’t carry a tune in a paper bag. Together, we sound great.” The choir is aimed at being a friendly environment where anyone can sing and harmonize with others. The goal is to have fun and relieve stress.

Lynn Melanson, Paper Bag Singers Organizer, noticed the trend of community choirs that promoted that anyone can be a part of a choir and made her want to start one of her own.

“Somewhere in my travels I started hearing about these groups for people who had either been told they couldn’t sing or shouldn’t sing,” she said.

Melanson says that singing has benefits other than being fun. She says it is good for your heart, your brain, and makes you feel less alone because of the community environment. “It’s a stress buster,” said Melanson.  

Two retired nursing professors from UNB agree with Melanson, while thinking of their time singing in choirs from the late 50s to now.

Elaine Kenyon first began singing in a junior choir and went to sing in the glee club at her high school and while studying at McGill. She continued to sing in several church choirs like the Fredericton Ladies Choir.

Kenyon says that singing was her way of relieving stress and forgetting about worries when she was in university. “It takes you to a different space,” she said.

She emphasized that younger generations should be open to singing in choirs. “I’ve come to see so many young people who love music,” said Kenyon, “To listen to music, to dance to music.”  

Kenyon said that her son would often come home and head straight to the piano. “With him, that music playing was a good de-stressor. It just takes you away from all of those things that tend to bother you,” she said.

Patricia Davidson (my grandmother) also began singing in junior choirs, through high school, university and made her way to sing in the Fredericton Ladies Choir.

She says that there’s something special about harmonizing with a large group of people. “It’s a spiritual experience,” she said. Davidson also says that a harmony is able cover a wrong or pitchy note when needed.

Davidson says that singing is good for your lungs and helps to lower blood pressure. “You learn to breath and that’s probably de-stressing as well,” she said.

When Davidson was a student, taking her Bachelor’s of Nursing at UNB, she said she would have six or seven classes at a time. “I needed to go to choir practice because it gave me something different to concentrate on,” she said.

Kenyon and Davidson were able to enjoy singing in choirs because they were graced with musical talent and made the audition cut. But, for those of us who are insecure or have pitchy vocals, this wouldn’t have been possible before.

The Paper Bag Singers choir, which meets every Monday evening at Christ Church Cathedral, is opening this opportunity up to those who can’t sing. “I don’t have a great voice, I don’t sing in choirs,” said Melanson.  

As Kenyon and Davidson showed, singing in choirs can be especially helpful for students. “It takes you away from everything else, any other trouble that you’re carrying around or any stressful things that you’re worried about, you can’t think about that when you’re singing,” said Kenyon.  

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