Jayne, Border Belles
· Totally inclusive (in fact, we're SINGCLUSIVE!)
· No scary auditions!
· No experience needed!
· No music-reading skills required!
· Gospel, pop, rock, folk and musicals!
· Music, friendship and wellbeing!
Venue: Bridstow Primary School, Ross on Wye
Time: 7.30-9.00pm, Wednesdays during term times
Fees: £6 a session, billed half-termly
5th January - 16th February
2nd March - 6th April
27th April - 25th May
8th June - 20th July
Born in South Wales in 1982, Emma grew up in a very musical family. Her father sang (and still sings 40 years later) in Croesyceiliog Male Voice Choir, formerly Gwent Police Choir, and her grandmother was a professional soprano. Emma began studying piano at the age of 4, clarinet at 7 and voice at 9. As a child, her evenings and weekends were taken up with music, with individual tuition, local and regional choirs and orchestras, and numerous musical theatre performances, big band and trad band gigs.
Her passion for music was cemented with a scholarship to study on the State University of New York College at Fredonia's 'Summer Choral Music Program', age just 15. This was followed with a year singing with the National Youth Choir of Wales, where the choir performed Faure's Requiem with Bryn Terfyl at the National Eisteddfod.
Once her mind was made up, Emma immediately set about looking for the best music degrees in the country and was thrilled to be accepted to study at Oxford. At the time, it was her intention to study American music and she particularly enjoyed her modules in ethnomusicology and film (and was rather inspired by her trip to the States). In her very first week of study, she joined the Oxford University Chorus, the only college-wide choir in the city. The first term brought a performance of Bernstein's Chichester Psalms, a piece which still sticks in her head today! In her second year at University, Emma joined the committee for the choir and appointed a student conductor for their next project - Faure's Requiem again. However, due to "artistic differences", the conductor resigned the night before the concert. The choir looked around for a musician who knew the piece inside out - and up went Emma's hand!
For the next two years, Emma conducted the Oxford University Chorus, later the Oxford Student Chorus, all the while determined to pursue research as a career. Following her degree, she studied for a Master's in Music, History and Culture at Oxford Brookes, never thinking that conducting could be her true calling. As many music students know, there is always a demand for music teachers, and so, following graduation, Emma's immediate employment was as a peripatetic music teacher and vocal teacher. But meanwhile, there was the niggling idea that she was missing out on choir...
Since moving back home and beginning her "real" professional career in 2007, Emma has conducted 16 different choirs (SATB, male voice, women's and children's) and taught countless children and adults how to sing. She has owned her own theatre school, offering voice and musical theatre qualifications, and been instrumental in writing an arts programme to assist dementia suffers and their communication. One of her favourite projects is to take community choirs to back big-name performers and she's sung with Rod Stewart, Alfie Boe, Blake and John Owen Jones in this way. She has written three charity pop songs, ten children's musicals, and had various choral works published and performed - including her piece "Autumn" which was sung at a 9/11 memorial service in New York City. The highlight of her work, however, was her time with Allegra Ladies' Choir, a group that, over 8 years, she took from its very first rehearsal, all the way to competition at Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod.
However, right at the climax of her career, Emma was diagnosed with PTSD with anxiety and depression. It was then that Sing out Strong was born.
During the 2020/21 COVID-19 pandemic, Emma took Sing out Strong GLOBAL! Starting in her living room twice a week, SOS reached more than 11,000 singers in 100 countries around the world with a whole year's worth of free rehearsals and projects to help people look after their mental health during the unprecedented year. SOS Virtual was so successful that it was featured on the BBC and ITV and in Good Housekeeping and Happiful Magazines (in fact, we think it was the very first UK virtual choir!). Emma was also nominated for an award for her work helping to keep people together during the crisis. When COVID hit her at home, Emma almost totally lost her singing voice - but still kept composing and creating to keep Sing out Strong going in lockdown. Emma's dream is to launch Sing out Strong choirs all across the UK, so that more people can experience the power of music to support their mental health.