Vision Norfolk Kings Lynn choir

West Norfolk’s Vision Impaired People Sing Out As Part Of New Choir

Vision impaired singers are being urged to come forward to join west Norfolk’s newest choir – a group principally made up of those living with sight loss.

The new choir is a joint initiative between Norfolk’s sight loss charity Vision Norfolk and King’s Lynn performing arts hub The Workshop

The singing group held its first meeting at the Workshop, with around 20 vision impaired people, their families and volunteers taking part, led by professional singing teacher Alex Davies.

Now the group is seeking others to come and sing – no prior singing experience is needed.

As well as providing an enjoyable and sociable activity, it is hoped that the new choir will eventually undertake public performances out in the community.

“Singing is such a great way to bring people together,” said Zoe Tinkler, west Norfolk hub co-ordinator for Vision Norfolk.  “There are all sorts of studies which show that it helps with confidence, happiness and even physical good health.

“Sight loss can lead to isolation, so for vision-impaired people this a chance to come together and have fun, as well as the opportunity to learn from a professional singing teacher.”

At the first session held this week, attendees were soon singing songs in harmony, with many surprised at how quickly they were able to pick up the new skill.

“Singing together is acknowledged as one of the best ways of boosting mental health and wellbeing,” said choir leader Alex Davies, a qualified professional singing teacher who is currently studying for an MA in Vocal Pedagogy at the renowned Voice Study Centre in Wales.

“Teaching people living with sight loss to sing has its own challenges, including providing song sheets in Braille and recognising that you can’t just rely on conducting to convey the beat, but it was striking how quickly everybody got into it and started to enjoy themselves.”

The new vision impaired choir meets every fortnight on a Wednesday afternoon at The Workshop in King’s Lynn.  Anyone wanting to take part can contact Penny Whitby at Vision Norfolk by email at [email protected], or by phoning 01553 660808.

Case Study: Gill Southgate

Blinded in a car accident in the 1970s when she was just 18, Gill Southgate from King’s Lynn has never let the fact she can’t see stop her from living a full life.

A medical secretarial assistant at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for the past 41 years, Gill was one of the first to sign up to join the new choir.

“I have always enjoyed singing, so this choir sounded like a lot of fun.  You don’t need any great musical skills – singing is a great leveller.  And you can hide in a choir, you are not singing solo!

Gill relies on a Braille song sheet to learn the words, something which has not stood in her way of joining in.  “We are sent the words in advance, whether printed, in Braille or on a data stick, so you can learn them so you’re not relying entirely on reading the Braille while you are singing.

“As well as the fun of singing, today has been a really nice social occasion, a chance to be part of something and make new friends.”

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