The Oldham choir that welcomes people who can’t sing


The benefits of singing in a choir are well known.

It’s not just good for your social life. It gets your endorphins flowing, too, so as well as reducing stress, it can help with anxiety and depression. It’s even been shown to help boost the immune system.

But what if you can’t sing to save your life? Do dogs howl when you sing? Do people fall about laughing or even ask you to stop?

Has anyone said to you “Please stop singing, you’re spoiling it for everyone else?”

If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, you might think you’d be about as welcome in a choir as a fox in a barrister’s chicken coop.

But you’d be wrong. Tuneless choirs welcome anyone who loves to sing but lacks the ability, confidence or practice to sing in tune.

Gemma and Sarah

“Our members tell us they feel uplifted when they leave and are brighter and happier the following day,” says Gemma Cunliffe, founder of Oldham Tuneless Choir, which has taken part in performances in the local community and even appeared on Revolution Radio’s breakfast show since launching in September.

“Most of all though, it’s just a really pleasurable thing to do with other people”.

In tuneless choirs, people aren’t divided into parts, so everyone sings the lead vocals at whatever pitch they can manage. This results in a sound much better than the sum of the individuals – and one which has been compared to a rugby or football crowd.

Oldham Tuneless Choir sings popular songs, with current favourites including The Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 miles) and Don’t Stop Me Now by Queen.

“Having no fear of judgement really does give our choir members the confidence to ‘sing like no one is listening’, which is the tuneless motto,” says colleague Sarah Wheeler.

“The choir is a place where the good folk of Oldham and the surrounding area can come and feel welcome and enjoy singing without being judged. Everyone is welcome – no one will sing too badly for us.”

Oldham Tuneless Choir meets every other Wednesday at The Cotton Rooms, 3-5 Rock Street, Oldham. Doors open at 7pm. The first meeting of 2020 will be at 7.30pm on Wednesday 8th January. First time attendance costs £10 including registration. It’s then the equivalent of £5 per week for a term, or £7 if you pay as you go.


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