Member profile: Meet Myriam!

This is Myriam’s first year in a choir since high school and she is very excited to be singing with Out in Harmony! Myriam teaches grade 4/5 at Hastings Elementary Community School. She is also a member of PEN (Pride Education Network), which advocates for an inclusive, respectful environment for all students, staff and families, regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation and/or gender identity, within all B.C. educational institutions, through the development of concrete supports, policies, resources and actions. She also travels around the province and gives workshops for teachers on anti-transphobia/homophobia education.

myriam

During her spare time she likes being outside, gardening or walking her friend Tuk. She also enjoys discovering new vegetarian dishes, reading a good book and knitting. Myriam plays the piano and music has always played a big role in her life. She is thrilled to have found a choir as wonderful as Out in Harmony!

FAQs

Here are answers to some of the questions we’ve been asked.  Don’t see the answer here?  Ask away!

When and where do you rehearse?

Every Tuesday from September to mid-June, 7:30 – 9:30 at St. Margaret’s Cedar Cottage Anglican Church, 1530 E. 22nd Avenue (at Dumfries, near the corner of Kingsway and Knight), Vancouver.  We usually have a weekend retreat once per term.

Do I have to be gay to sing with you?

We welcome people of all genders, orientations, and levels of ability who want to sing together in community.

Is there an audition?

No! You will never be asked to sing alone, unless you decide you want to try a solo. (Though if you would like some advice on which part to sing, the director would be happy to spend a few minutes with you at the piano.)

Do I have to be able to read music?

No! We have a number of members who sing with us very successfully who don’t read music at all.

Do you use rehearsal tapes?

Not at this time. If this is a tool that works for you, you’re welcome to record rehearsals and practice with that.

Do I have to memorize the music?

It makes for a better concert experience if you have your music memorized, so we encourage you to try, but you can use music during concerts if you need it.

Do you only accept new members in September?

No, feel free to drop by any time! We have our major concerts in January and June. If you join right before a concert, you and the director will decide together whether you’re ready to perform, but you’re still welcome to come on Tuesdays and sing!

What if I need to miss a rehearsal?

We understand that we all have lives outside of choir, and sometimes that means missing a rehearsal.  If you aren’t going to be there on a Tuesday, or for some other scheduled choir event, we ask that you let your section leader know.   If you need to miss several rehearsals, we’d still like to have you come on Tuesdays and sing with us, and you and the director can decide together whether you’ll be ready to sing in the concert.

What if I need to miss an outreach performance or retreat?

When we are scheduling something for a time other than a Tuesday, we ask the choir as far in advance as possible to make sure that we’ll have enough singers to participate.

What kind of music do you sing?

A variety. We sing pop/rock, vocal jazz, madrigals or light classical pieces, selections from musicals, folk songs, and music that defies categorization. We mostly sing in English, but we have been known to sing in Italian, Spanish, and Russian, to name a few.

Do you sing religious music?

Generally, no. Very occasionally we’ll sing something with the word “god” in it, but it’s usually music that leaves the definition up to the singers and audience.

Can I bring my child/pet to rehearsals?

Regretfully, no. Choir is a group of adults who get together for just two hours a week, and the focus is on singing. We’d be happy to meet your child/pet at a choir social event, but they can cause too much distraction at rehearsals. (Assistance animals are, of course, welcome.)

Does it cost money to join the choir?

We don’t want finances to be a barrier to anyone’s involvement. Everyone pays $5 per year to become a member of the Society. There is a $15 one-time music fee when you first join the choir. (If paying that all at once is a problem, talk to our Treasurer.) The amount you pay on top of that is up to you. The suggested monthly donation is $30, but some people pay less, and some pay more.

Are you a registered charity?

Yes, we are both a non-profit society and a registered charity. Donations can be made through our website, and tax receipts will be issued for all amounts over $20.

How often do you perform?

We have two major concerts a year, usually late January and mid-June.  We also sing at smaller outreach performances every month or two.  We’ve sung at community centres, seniors’ homes, hospitals, fundraisers, and church services, to name a few.  Some years we make an out-of-town trip – the most recent have included Saltspring Island and Sechelt.

Will you come and sing for my group/event?

We do a number of smaller appearances throughout the season, both paid and volunteer. If you’d like to invite us to sing, please contact outinharmony@gmail.com.

Out in Harmony sings for fun, not fame!

by Lisa P, soprano, member since 2008

No, really! We really do sing for the fun of it!  And I’m saying that as someone who wasn’t so sure about that before I joined.

Before moving to Vancouver, I’d wistfully longed to gather up enough nerve to inquire about singing in my local GLBT community choir. But, I had no singing experience, no idea how to read music (except what I might remember from my high school band days), and no idea how I would sound or if I could do that thing that choirs do – harmonize.  Sure, the local choir’s website said that musical ability and experience were irrelevant, but did they really mean it? Really? Because they sure sounded like they all had musical ability at their concerts!

Moving to Vancouver, I had two things on my side. First, I had the opportunity to chat a bit with the Out in Harmony director in a casual and friendly sort of way and had discovered that when they said non-auditioned choir that welcomes everyone regardless of musical ability, they actually meant it.  Second, I was moving to a whole new city (and country) and if I didn’t put myself ‘out there’ to meet new people, I’d never make any friends!

So, I made a pact with myself to give it a shot as soon as I moved here. I kept that promise to myself and attended my first rehearsal the first week I arrived in Vancouver. And, guess what? There really WAS no audition! I just jumped into a section I felt comfortable in and started singing.

What I quickly discovered is so amazing about a “non-auditioned choir who welcomes everyone regardless of musical ability” is that we actually are motivated by the joy of singing together.  What this does for the energy of the choir at every rehearsal and at every concert is something that is difficult to describe, but easy to fall in love with.  It means that in spite of our diverse backgrounds as individual members, we all have at least one thing in common with one another: we like to sing.  And that commonality is what makes this choir a fun place to be.

Now, don’t get me wrong, we learn quite a bit while we’re having fun. Our director makes sure of that! Musically, the choir grows and learns each week. Part of what rehearsing is all about is improving our musical ability as a group and because we come from a variety of backgrounds and musical experience, each improvement makes us all so darn proud.  There is just nothing that beats the feeling of accomplishment we gain from working with a piece of music from those first stumbling notes when we try to just learn the first page or so, to performing it at a concert when it’s polished up and sounds great.

Personally, I’ve found that when you remove the element of pressure to perform at a certain level and instill a sense of
fun and joy in what you’re doing – the “ability” part evolves naturally over time.  That is the magic in being a part of a group of people that makes music for fun, not fame!

This is Out In Harmony’s secret to success and happiness. Tell everyone.