I had been thinking of Joining Risca Male Choir for quite some time but I did not have the courage to go through with it. I never felt welcome in most places I had been in and I hated that feeling. I had spent just over two Years with Risca RFC and I never really felt like I was part of the gang. I really love singing and the sound the choir produced was glorious. I went to a lot of concerts the choir had and I would just marvel at the sound and just wish I could part of it. However I just did not want to be rejected again so I did not go. One Saturday evening I had the courage to phone the Musical director at the time whose name is Martin Hodson who was to play a very key role in my self-development in the following few years. He sounded okay on the phone so I decided will go to one of their practices. I had told myself that I would go for one practice and then no one will ever see me again. I had to get a bus so i got there before anyone else and wondering what welcome i was going to get. I sat there asking myself how the members are gong to receive this young black man in front of them. I had played all the outcomes in my head and none of them were good. I waited for the members to come in, it felt like a long time maybe it was because I was 90 minutes early. The first few members started coming in and one of the senior members invited me in and had a chat with me.
It was my first encounter with a Baritone by the name of Gordon, he gave me the best welcome anyone had ever given me. It was incredible because five minutes earlier I was wondering why I even bothered but a few seconds of chatting to this man I knew that I wanted to be part of the choir. Martin walked in the room, he was as nice and polite as he was on the phone, that was a done deal for me I was going to be part of the choir. I watched the first half of the practice, I was up close in person with the men I had heard for three years. I held my tears back as I realised that I had a chance to be part of something special. I asked myself why I had not come earlier but it did not matter I was here now. I had my voice test with Martin when the choir took a break, I told him I was a second tenor but after doing my voice test he said I was a top tenor. Now I would like to remind you that at this point I had not been top anything in my life and even though I knew top tenor was a section and not a special position in the choir, it was special for me to be top anything. When Martin said you are not a second tenor but you are a top tenor I translated that as you are better than you think you are and the journey to were i am today really began on my first day at the choir headquarters . I was to enjoy four wonderful years with the choir and met a lot of great people and the fact that the majority of the people were older than me, I got to learn a lot from them.
Four days after joining the choir I got my exam results for my first year of sixth form which I passed with flying colours and I spent the evening of my results day singing with Risca Male choir. The dream of going to university was truly on. About a month or two in the choir I went to Martin’s house and he was surprised because I did not know the song can you feel the love tonight and I was to embarrassed to say that even though I was 18 years old I had not seen the lion king yet but we sang through it. I started going for lessons once a week at Martin’s house and everyday my voice got better and better, I would go home and practice all the new techniques to brother’s anguish. The highlight for me came when I sang two solos in 2010 at a small concert raising money for the concert we were going to have later that year. Standing in front of that church and hearing people cheering me own was great. I remember my strange choices of clothing that day. I had these white trainers on which I kept white all the time and I blue jeans which was fine but I had a bright yellow Wales rugby top on. People told how nice my vice was and this really improved my confidence. I went to school the following Monday and one of my teachers told me something had changed. I truly believe that day the old me started making way for a new me. I was able to ssay I am good at something; I was not the best singer in the room by any stretch of imagination but I was happy with own performance. Because I was happy with my own performance that afternoon I started learning to be happy with my own performance in a lot of other things.
One thing that I learnt when I was in the choir was that easy was not an option. We as the choir sang some really challenging pieces. I remember late Graham saying to me that I had to practice not just once a week every day. What a lot of people did not know is that I have a eye condition called Nystagmus which is an involuntary movement of the eye. I struggled to read the music so I would go home and practice note by note word by word and put them all my in my head. This experience taught me that if there is problem there will always be a solution. I used that in my school work and it paid of. I use this technique even today to solve my work and personal problems. The trouble with a lot of people is that they will always look at the problem and not the solution. I knew what the problems was and I found a way to solve the problem through been part of the choir that I was scared of joining in the first place. The benefits of been in the choir were huge for me, I made a lot of friendships and I met people who helped me on my life journey until I graduated from university. Non of them knew it but they were helping me along to greatness.
One September evening whilst waiting to get on stage I overhead one of my fellow top tenors talking about work. I was looking for a place to go for work experience so I asked him what he did and he said I am a Human Resources manager. My eyes lit up because I was doing a degree in business and human resources and I was looking for a place to do work experience and I could not find one anywhere. I had to ask him and he did what he could and he got me the work experience that I badly needed. A lot of my fellow students at university could not find anything at all but I did because I had placed myself in a place with various skills set. I had a wonderful time at his company made a lot of mistakes which I quickly learnt from and I learnt a lot about myself. By the time I left his company I was ready for the world of work. A lot of people I know struggled to get work because they did not have the experience but I did nt because I had managed to get some very important work experience. This would not have happened if I was not in Risca Male choir. Working for Paul gave me the knowledge that I needed to go out in the world and to become what I am today
In chapter two I mentioned how I learnt about the spirit of never giving up with the rugby club. I learnt this with the choir as well. In December 2012 me and two other young top tenors were doing a song together. We were to do this song for two nights but the first night we mocked it up, we did not join in together, I forgot my lines. We had another crack at the next night. It went perfectly well, I have the CD and I listen to it all the time. At this point I was keen to learn from every little thing that happens in the day. I had just recovered from depression so I was enjoying life and I just wanted to enjoy every single moment of life. My Suzie had just seen me recover from nearly a year of depression and there she was watching me singing away with a smile. We sang Elton Jones’s electricity and the last word of the song are “I am free”. When I suffered from depression all I did was sing and sing and I sang my way out of depression. I was afraid of the unknown but when I got the courage to go and face the unknown I found friendships that will last forever, confidence like I had never known. In 2013 before the Christmas concert which was to be my last, I got to the venue early and I sat on the stage before everyone could arrive. Whilst drying a few tears I realised that it was the journey that I needed to take,then it hit me how much I had grown and how ready I was to face the world. I was sad to say goodbye but I was glad that I made a choice to face the unkown heaven because I walked in a boy who was scared of his own shadow but I walked out a fearless young man.
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