“Sing Out Loud, Speaks Out Loud”

Can you believe it? Sing Out Loud is FIVE years old!! The very first meeting of Sing Out Loud was held, in central Chelmsford, on Thursday, 6th November 2008, with two dozen people attending.

Many singers have enjoyed the unique style, and friendly, relaxed, supportive and non-judgemental atmosphere of Sing Out Loud, during that time. Over the years, numbers have grown to over 40.

With such a milestone, a special Blog, was essential, and to make it easy to find, in the future, a permanent Anniversary Page, has also been set up, based on the “Sing Out Loud Fifth Anniversary” Blog.

This gives anyone thinking of joining a singing group, an excellent idea of what it’s like to be involved with Sing Out Loud – in words straight from the mouths of our current singers.

So, you will see, below, many memories, from Sing Out Loud-ers, some of whom have been with us from the start, all the way through, to our latest, brand new members, who joined this term. Each has written a few words, maybe saying when they started, and what they enjoy about their Thursday evenings, singing together.

Sing Out Loud – Five Year Anniversary “Memories”

So, for your delight, without further ado, here is “Sing Out Loud, Speaking Out Loud” (Editor’s Note: Keep reading, there are around two dozen contributions – over half the current group):

From Jane:

Hi Karen

I remember the very first Sing Out Loud evening. I was there right from the start!

Before Sing Out Loud, I had been looking for somewhere to go to sing – not necessarily a choir, just singing for enjoyment. I had started going to my sister in law’s singing class in East Bergholt, but it was a bit of a journey each week, from Chelmsford.

Then a few weeks later, I just happened to be looking in the weekly newspaper and there was a little piece about a new singing evening starting up. They were looking for people who just enjoyed singing: no pressure, no auditions, just for enjoyment.

I was excited, as it sounded just the thing I had been looking for and it was local.

I phoned Karen and attended the first evening at Christ Church. Right from the beginning I found it uplifting and still do.

Kind regards, Jane

From Lynn and Alan:

Hi Karen

Yes, we were both attending Sing Out Loud from the conception of the idea, having read an article in the local paper. I remember Tubby saying how bubbly and enthusiastic you sounded when he first spoke to you.

Our first memories were at Christ Church, a striking building with great acoustics. There were a good number of us turned up, and with Peter Dunhill’s ease of delivery we soon found ourselves at ease.

Then we moved on to The United Brethren Pub, and, although the group was fairly small, being a small room we were soon bulging at the seams, so Grove Road became our regular venue from then on.

We have had great fun over the years, and attended most of the outside venues both in the colder months and the summertime.

Congratulations Karen on your seed of an idea all; those years ago.

Long may we continue.

Alan and Lynn xxx

From Sue:

Hi Karen

I wasn’t part of the original Sing Out Loud group as I am pretty sure I joined in September 2010. I recall my first evening with Sing Out loud when, clutching my new song folder, I sat down and was instantly made to feel very much at ease.

The song choice was pleasing – a great spread of some old, some new, some folk, some pop – and the style of the lessons were relaxed and friendly.

I sat next to another new member, who had a terrific voice, and had sung jazz and swing for years so her confident singing encouraged me to sing up a tad.

Apart from the Open Nights, which are always terrific fun, I recall good evenings with Sing Out Loud at the Open Mic nights at St Anne’s Castle and The Red Lion, and not forgetting the rocking night at The 8 Ball Diner on the A12 – sadly all closed now – is there a theme developing here folks?

(Editor’s note: Yes, sadly, Sue, the Red Lion and the 8 Ball Diner have closed, however, St Anne’s Castle, is still open – under new management – and though Jane has ‘retired’ herself from running the Open Mic, a friend of hers, John White, has taken over, so the Open Mic night, continues).

Sing Out Loud also offered me the chance to be involved with the “Sparks Will Fly” event at Hylands Park in 2012. To be part of this super occasion, when the Olympic Torch arrived in Chelmsford was awesome. What a great Olympic year we had.

The Christmas Fair at Hylands, later in the year, was a foot-stamping, hand-clapping (anything to keep warm) testament to family love – all my children and grandchildren braved the extreme cold to listen to Sing Out Loud.

I’m visiting Tromso in Norway for a few days in late November – it can’t be any colder than the Hylands experience, can it?

I like the new style for Open Evenings and enjoy the way Sing Out Loud continues to evolve and develop as a group.


From Mary:

I had just moved house at the end of 2012 and one of my ‘new house reSing Out Loudutions’ was to find a singing group. I didn’t want a choir and am a bit old for a rock and roll band 🙂 so wasn’t quite sure if there was anything in between. One of the first pieces of post through my new letterbox was the Moulsham Times with a big article about Sing Out Loud.

I called Karen, sent off my form and cheque and here I am. For me Sing Out Loud has got it all, great tunes and a chance to sing them with a great bunch of people and no fears of ‘getting it wrong’. Here’s to the next five, and more, years.


From Jill:

Hi Karen

I joined Sing Out Loud on the 12 November 2009. I had contacted Karen around September time, having seen an advert in the local free paper. It was just what I was looking for, in terms of singing, obviously, with like-minded people in an easy-going class environment.

At that time, Karen’s class was full, as they were still in the United Brethren pub. But Karen informed me larger premises were being sought, and I duly put my name down on the waiting list! So, I wandered along on a chilly dark November night, to begin singing, in what is now our coffee/tea lounge. I met some very friendly people, especially Jane, who is now a firm friend of mine, and Jenny who joined after me.

Within a week or two, we had progressed into the main body of the church we use today. At that time, Peter was our tutor, and I abSing Out Loudutely loved his enthusiasm and witty comments especially when he would say “well that was very good……but” – we all knew there was a ‘but’ coming. It was so light-hearted and great fun!

So I am approaching my fourth anniversary with Sing Out Loud, and with David at the ‘Musical Director helm’ now, believe the group will go from strength to strength.

The very essence of a group like this is to enjoy each class, which I do, and leave each class singing your favourite song of the night, which I do!

Kind regards, Jill

From Olwen:

Hi Karen

I have been with Sing Out Loud for as long as I can remember.

I was at the very first Sing Out Loud session in Christ Church, looking around and listening to the others, who seemed to have much better voices and singing confidence than me. After a couple of sessions, one of them very supportively suggested that I sang up, so that those singing next to me could hear me singing – not just myself! Advice I have passed on to others who initially appear shy.

I phoned Karen, in response to an article in the “Essex Chronicle” about a singing group she wanted to set up in Chelmsford. I had two questions:

1. Would there be auditions?

2. Were there plans to perform in public?

No there would be no auditions, I was relieved to hear this. Karen managed to avoid answering my second question and I did not pursue it! As the saying goes – the rest is history.

Over the years, Sing Out Loud has made me feel comfortable singing with others in public. We support each other. The first time was in the St. Anne’s Castle pub, which was a nerve-racking time for me.

(Editor’s Note: Here is the feedback from Olwen, the morning after her first group performance, with Sing Out Loud: “…from someone who was NEVER going to perform in public – I really enjoyed myself on Tuesday. It’s thanks to you and Peter’s relaxed attitude and the choice of songs. I really enjoy singing them. Thanks again…” November 2009)

Since then I have sung with Sing Out Loud in a variety of venues to different types of audiences.

To me, Sing Out Loud means meeting weekly, with people who have become my friends, to enjoy singing together. I like the variety of old and new, contemporary and traditional songs that we sing; the challenge and satisfaction of working on a new song.

Sometimes it is hard work but the finished [is it ever?]result, is very satisfying.


From Briony:

Hi Karen,

I joined Sing Out Loud, at the end of September, last year (2012), and was a bit nervous going in for the first time by myself! I needn’t have worried because I met a friendly and cheery bunch of people.

A lady called Sue, took me ‘under her wing’ and introduced me to everyone. We all wore a sticker with our name on it, which really helps putting names to faces, but it didn’t take many weeks to remember who was who.

Sing Out Loud were at a crossroads then, as they were ‘between’ Musical Directors. So, it was a couple of weeks before we met Karen’s other-half, David Baird, who has, since, been a great teacher.

The Sing Out Loud evenings are instructive and fun, and to put it succinctly: singing makes me happy!

Take care, and cheers to you both, Briony

From Jennifer:

Sing Out Loud has become so part of my life now, it is difficult to remember exactly when I joined! I think I am coming into my 4th year. I so enjoy my singing. As a group of people singing together, we all blend so well, we all contribute our part, and our voices, to make our wonderful sound.

David and Karen running the classes have really put lots of effort into directing and developing our voices, to create the right sound!

From the very beginning I felt at ease and welcomed to the classes. Everyone is so friendly and we all help each other. Tea breaks go so fast!! It is nice to chat to others in our break.

I look forward every week to my time at Sing Out Loud. I wish we could meet all year round! I wish you a happy 5th Birthday.

Keep singing, Jennifer

From Orla:

Not really knowing what to expect, I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly and welcoming the whole group was. Karen is extremely organised and makes sure everything runs smoothly and David is entertaining and makes every session fun. It’s great to be using my voice again and I’m learning useful voice control and projection techniques.

See you later, Orla.

From Terri:

Hi Karen,

Having recently moved to Chelmsford and not knowing anyone I decided I was going to pursue some old hobbies to get to know like-minded people. I checked the internet and found the Sing Out Loud website. I was nervous that I hadn’t sung for years and probably sounded awful, but I just love to sing, even if it is just walking down the street or in the bath! I emailed Karen who rang me and we had a really informal chat over the phone. She assured me that lots of the group had similar stories and encourage me to join.

I have been attending for two terms now and it is the highlight of my week. Everybody made me feel so welcome from the very first evening and I soon became fast friends with many of the members. It is such a lively, fun night and I have to say, I think my voice has got better with use. If you are thinking of joining, give it a go, I don’t think you will be sorry you came.

Good luck and congratulations on your first five years…. Long may it continue.


From Brenda:

I can’t remember exactly when I joined Sing Out Loud, probably about 3 years ago. I came with my sister, Pamela, who found it on the website, and we felt very welcome from day one.

We both enjoy singing in a group, with no pretentions ever to sing on our own, and I am a great believer in the benefits of singing, both mentally and physically. Pamela became too busy to continue but may return at some stage.

I have found that if ever I have thought about leaving, also being very busy, the thought is always completely dispelled by the welcome and friendliness on returning at the beginning of a new term. Everyone is so obviously pleased to be there!

Since David has joined us, it seems to me, that our confidence, and therefore our singing, has much improved. The warming up exercises are a big help, and we seem to pick up new songs much quicker than we did.

I’ll finish this now as I am probably saying too much and too seriously!

Best Wishes, Brenda x

From Jan:

I had previously joined a Franchised Choir in Chelmsford, but only lasted 6 weeks as it proved to be not at all what I was looking for. Finding Sing Out Loud was a turning point, as it gave me everything I was looking for!

I love the diverse range of (sometimes challenging) songs, the fact that we all sing together and are not left for large chunks of the evening, listening to others sing their parts. But, mostly, I love the group dynamics, the friendliness, humour (thank you Richard), the (Guide) Dog(!), and general atmosphere of being there to have fun.


From Pam:

I joined Sing Out Loud three years ago. Prior to this, I attended the Summer School, as I wasn’t sure if a singing group was for me. I certainly enjoy coming to the weekly sessions. I enjoy the selection of songs, and, I have enjoyed the various events we have taken part in. My favourite was being involved in the Champagne Flutes event at Brentwood, a year ago, to raise money for Macmillan nurses. This was David’s first event with Sing Out Loud, and the audience certainly enjoyed our performance.

Best wishes, Pam

From Rachel:

I joined Sing out Loud in January of this year (2013), and can honestly say that I have enjoyed every minute. The people are so friendly and I genuinely miss going when we break up for holidays.

David makes learning the songs a fun experience, and there are lots of theatrics and laughter. I would recommend Sing Out Loud to anyone who enjoys singing – and it’s good for your health!


From Chris B:

I am a blind person with a guide dog, who came along to Sing Out Loud for the first time, to an Open Evening last December (2012). I received a warm welcome from all there. Of course, the real attraction was my dog, rather than his master’s voice!

I have been going along to the group now, for ten months, or should I say two and a half terms. The group sang a wide range of songs, of which I knew a few, so joined in, when I could. The songs with which I was not so familiar, were read out, for me to sing along to.

However, now, each term, Karen either sends me an E mail, or gives me the new songs which I put onto my gadget (which converts text to speech). These I play back, whilst singing along to the words relayed through my head phones. I am not listening to the radio – honest!

David, plays the guitar accompaniment, pitching the music to suit all, however, it doesn’t always work for me. I find some songs easier than others, but we always have a great time. This is apparent, when the evening reaches a conclusion, without you realising the two hours have gone by.

If you like a challenge to the mental faculty, enjoy music, and want a fun evening, then come along and give it a try, as I did. I have not regretted it once.


From James:

I will never forget the warm welcome I received from Jane T, and the rest of the group, when I first joined. I have met, and continue to meet, some lovely people, and each Thursday I am surrounded by wonderful voices all singing their hearts out. Every evening at Sing Out Loud, is two hours of pure joy.

What I like about Sing Out Loud is that there are no Prima Donnas in the group, everybody is treated the same. There is a poster which reads “G******S IS GOOD FOR YOU”. It should read “SING OUT LOUD IS GOOD FOR YOU”. Long may it reign!


From Andy T:

With some rather uncomplimentary words from my school music teacher still swirling around in the back of my head from all those years ago when I auditioned for the school choir, I was really encouraged about four years ago when I spotted a small piece in the local paper about a Chelmsford-based Singing Group for adults of all musical abilities (or none) which did not require any audition process.

All Sing Out Loud required was enthusiasm on the part of prospective members to sing and develop their voices in a safe and welcoming group environment. This was just what I had been looking for so I joined the Thursday evening gathering at Grove Road. What a great move that was.

Since then I have enjoyed working through the wide range of songs the group has in its repertoire. To take the songs apart in the early learning stages in class and gradually polish them up for one of our more public events such as our Open Evenings gives a great sense of pleasure in achievement.

I loved taking part in a couple of the Pub Open Mic nights, plus, Leigh Folk Festival and the Olympic Torch Ceremony, in 2012. We have suffered extremes of temperature in the interests of our music-making: who can forget the humidity and heat when we all shoehorned ourselves into the studio and recorded our CD, and some of us would probably rather forget the Hylands House Christmas event last year when we were completely frozen to the marrow. (Editor’s Note: I don’t think David would willingly volunteer to play guitar for us, in such cold weather, again!)

The buzz I get from Sing Out Loud is the way we as a group of people of all sorts of ages, backgrounds and voices, get together on Thursday evenings and under the encouragement and direction of Peter, initially, and over the past year, David, journey our way towards producing our special Sing Out Loud version of songs. As the group has grown in number we do make, in my opinion, a great sound. Have a listen when you are on tea rota duties, we really do sound pretty good.

All the best

Andy T

From Linda & Richard:

As the fifth anniversary of Sing Out Loud approaches, here are some thoughts about our time in the group.

Linda and I joined in January 2011, and it has been a major part of our lives ever since. Linda heard about Sing Out Loud from Patrick who, I believe has taken photographs of the group at various events over the years.

Patrick was helping Linda one day, at an Adult Education Class she was attending. She had to write an essay about someone in her life, and so she wrote about me, and how I liked to sing. So that is how we became involved in Sing Out Loud.

We’ve really enjoyed singing with so many and varied people over the last 3 years, and we have made some very good friends.

Two gigs that stand out in our minds are the Olympic Torch ceremony in Hylands Park, where we were wading through a lot of mud, owing to a lot of rain over the previous few days. But there was a great atmosphere, with so many people and other groups and organisations demonstrating what they had to offer.

Then there was the Christmas Fare, again at Hylands Park. The over-riding memory of that event was the bitter cold! I don’t know how David managed to play the guitar, though I’m told that someone gave him a cup of tea in which he immersed his fingers from time to time.

So, happy fifth birthday Sing Out Loud. We hope to be singing for many years to come. We always look forward to Thursday evenings, it makes us feel good when we’ve had a great singing session, and met up with so many good friends.

Thank you Karen and David for all you do to keep Sing Out Loud going. Here’s to many more years.

Richard and Linda

From J:

I believe that I am the newest member (almost said youngest but unfortunately that’s not true!) of the group, having joined the second week into this term. From week one, I have been made to feel welcome, with a warm friendly atmosphere pervading the room. The name badges are a great idea allowing everyone to be on first name terms without having to remember 40 names after 2 hours, or even 2 weeks!

I am thoroughly enjoying ‘finding my voice’ having only sung before around the house, in the car and my most public outing to date: in the guest choir on our cruise holiday this year. The two hours flies by (if only it were a little more) and before you know it, it’s time to go home with that week’s songs playing in your head and another 7 days until we meet again.

I will admit to only being familiar with a few of this term’s songs and likewise with the back catalogue. But find it easier than I thought to pick up the new tunes (although learning the lyrics off by heart is another matter……sorry David). It’s certainly widening my musical horizons which I already thought were pretty broad. I’m also looking forward to putting forward a few song suggestions a bit further down the line.

All in all, I’m delighted to have found you Sing out Loud and want to join in wishing you a happy 5th birthday and here’s to the next 5 years.


From Sara:

Karen had advertised her first meeting of Sing Out Loud in the “Essex Chronicle”. I usually just skim through the paper, picking up on a few bits here and there, but, somehow, that week, five years ago, a tiny article stuck somewhere in the middle of all the other busy news articles, caught my eye.

Singing? With others? I haven’t done that for years… (and years)! Sounds like fun! Would I be brave enough to do anything about it though? And, would hubby be able to commit (at least most of the time), to being home early enough on a Thursday, to look after our girls?

Well, I was brave, and turned up at Christchurch, on my own.

I was far too nervous that first night to remember who was there, then, and is still with us today. Though I know that there are a few of us “old timers” still around!

I remember we were asked to share our names, favourite music, and what (if any), singing background we had – making an already nervous me, a little more terrified. Aah! Well, I made it through OK, and then we started singing!

So that was how it all began for me. I love singing. I sing all the time. It makes me happy, so why not?!

But there is something magical about singing with other people, that unites us. Singing can release tensions, ease anxiety and focus the mind, leaving the stresses and strains of everyday life far behind.

It’s great, isn’t it?

What’s not to love?!

The tiny cut-out of Karen’s article in the “Chronicle” is still blu-tacked to the back of my kitchen door, as a reminder to me of a time when I needed something that was just for ME! I was a little bit brave and made it happen. But, Karen was even braver, put herself well and truly “out there” and has made Sing Out Loud happen for us all.

Thank you so much!

So everyone, let’s…



From Louise:

Hi all,

I joined Sing Out Loud this Spring (2013), so still feel quite new to the group. I had read a small article about it in the “Weekly News”, and spoke to Karen on the ‘phone, who was very encouraging.

I explained that I enjoyed singing, but didn’t really feel I could sing in tune. Before coming along, I was fairly nervous. My only real singing experience was in the school choir, from the age of about 10. I had to audition, by singing “All things Bright and Beautiful” in front of the class and a very stern piano teacher/ accompanist, who wasn’t very happy when I got the words wrong in the first verse and had to start all over again.

I was very glad I didn’t have to re-live that experience! At the first session, I was impressed by how friendly and welcoming everyone was. It is a lovely, relaxed, non-judgemental, inclusive, atmosphere in which to sing, and I really enjoy David’s patient teaching style.

The songs chosen are very varied, so there really is something for everyone to enjoy. I really like singing the Bob Dylan and Van Morrison ones at the moment. In addition to all that, we have some very fine comedians in the group who are always ready with a quick witted remark or two.

Congratulations on the Five Year Anniversary, Karen and David, and thank you for all that you do to make our Thursday nights memorable.

Louise xx

From Chrissie:

Wow! Five years already! I saw the SoL ad in the “Essex Chronicle” and decided to make a vain attempt at recapturing my youth and sing again. Not sure either the recapturing or the singing has been achieved but the fun I’m having is beyond huge!

The camaraderie among like minded folk is friendship personified. ‘Thank you for having me!’ as the saying goes! I joined around 2? or is it 3 years ago? and never looked back.

That was a great idea Karen and if you have anymore ideas like it, I want to be in on it. I think we all agree that David is truly the ‘Maestro’.

Many thanks for all your hard work and above all, for bringing us all together.


From Sonya:

I’ve realized that for me, Sing Out Loud is almost a selfish thing, allowing me to express and participate in music just for the sheer fun and enjoyment. It has been something I longed to do for years but, lacked the confidence in myself and socially.

I trawled the Internet, magazines, papers and even church notice boards, but there was nothing that I could afford, or was informal enough to suit someone uncertain of ability, pitch and tone. (I was happiest singing with my MP3 player, headphones firmly in place)!

Then when searching yet again, I found your website, which looked promising. It was not all pensioners and the total selling point was: “No such thing as a wrong note!”

It took me awhile to feel comfortable, as I was a bit unsure of fitting in. But to be honest, once I had actually had a fit (which is always a tie-breaker) and it was handled with such aplomb by David, I could laugh about it and return to the group feeling welcomed, and, with no embarrassment. (A first, for me)!

We’re a madcap, fun, diverse group, capable of delighting ourselves or, on the odd occasion, making David groan! Thank you for your understanding of absences, and being a group that is fluid enough, that I can catch up easily on return.

Hey, just thought, is Sing Out Loud tailor made for me!?! See you Thursday.



Editor’s Note: That’s all, for now, folks! 🙂