What YYC Has Given Me
Hey everyone, my name’s Ellie (new to blogging), and something I am very proud to call myself is a member of the Yorkshire Youth Choir. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like without it, - something very difficult to do as YYC has made me the person I am today - but it doesn’t bear thinking about once you actually reach a conclusion. It took me a long time deciding what this post should be about, as there are so many things that have happened at YYC and I have already written pages on every detail of each course in my notebooks at home to keep as the best memories I have. In the end, I have decided to share with you all the beautiful things YYC has given me, emotionally, musically and physically. I hope those of you reading who are members or ex-members of the choir can relate to this, and those of you who aren’t members will read this and realise just what it is you’re missing out on. And believe me, that’s a whole lot of love.
One of the wonderful things YYC has given me is the feeling of love, respect and belonging, which aren’t things you get that much of at school. Being with you guys is like being with my 2nd family, there’s an atmosphere of happy people wherever you are, and even though one of us may not know another very well, it’s as if we’re all bonded together already through our love for music. As you all know, respect is the word of YYC. We are reminded of this at the start of each course, and very truly I’ve never met another group of people that have more respect for each other than you guys. There’s never anyone by themselves, but that’s mainly because we’re all odd (in the best way possible) so it’s easy to fit in! I wasn’t sure what to expect on my first course, as I was only 10 and had never done anything like it before. But after I’d collected my music and concert dress and started heading to the accommodation, I was given a hug. However, this was no ordinary hug. It was a ‘welcome to YYC hug’, given by Saskia Jones-Walters (one of my many roommates that course), and it was the best, most important hug I’ve ever received. It was my mark of arrival to this fabulous choir, and ever since then I have dreaded my mark of departure. I imagine I’ll spend the following month or more looking over all my YYC photos, listening and singing along to all the CDs and reliving the memories, then start crying, knowing I will never be able to experience it again... But never mind that, I’ve still got about 7 years left which, reassuringly, is quite a bit more than what I’ve already had. Here’s a way to put it: Imagine everyone as a single jigsaw piece. At school, we’re part of a 1500 (approximately) piece puzzle with all the pieces mixed up and thrown in together, constantly being turned around and looked at from different angles to determine what other pieces we fit with. Some pieces we will connect to, so we stay with them whilst searching for more pieces to join with, but they’re hard to find. Whereas at YYC, we’re part of a simple 100 piece puzzle that is successfully put together in a matter of minutes. We connect with each other so easily, and our final product is so beautiful that words can’t describe it, which is why we use music to tell people how much this choir means to us. Somehow, we will find a way to make our music heard by everyone who is willing to listen, however difficult that may be.
Something very important and close to my heart that YYC has given me is friends. These friends, however, are not just your normal ‘friends’ that you meet through life and can ask a few favours from now and then, no. They are what I call ‘best friends’, the people I couldn’t live without. Throughout my time at YYC, many friends have come and gone, many have gone on to make friends with others. I guess this is what’s so awesome about it all, that your friendship group is always changing, and the amount of people you grow to love so much is so large that you feel like you’re best buddies with everyone. Of course, each friendship group always contains 2 or 3 members who have always been together since the beginning, who joined together and experience the YYC journey by each other’s sides. I cannot explain how much you mean to me Bea. After auditioning one after the other when we were 10 and then meeting for real in room 125 (yes, I remember the room number) whilst getting bombarded by unfrozen ice pops and loaves of bread, something told me it would be the 2 of us who would stick together throughout this beautiful journey, and we most definitely have. I can only wish that we will go on together for the rest of it, as I will always be there. I couldn’t miss a YYC course for the world. And it’s thanks to you guys for making the choir possible that I met her. So Bea, or, ‘bæ’ to JPJ (those of you in John’s aural group this easter will know what I’m talking about), I love you so so so much, you’re perfect and I don’t know what I’d do without you. The current (and hopefully further into the future) friendship group I’m a part of is the best yet, it even has a name: Lukellie (Luke+Ellie), Belias (Bea+Elias) and Georgia. Yes, it may be a bit odd, but honestly the love I have for these guys is so strong, everyday I miss them so much and I hate being far away. Here's a little bit from my written memories of last course on the monday night as we sang bohemian rhapsody together at the ‘disco’: ‘whilst singing the most perfect song ever, I looked around the circle at every single wonderful person, and it really hit me hard that this is what it feels like to love something with all of your heart. These people are my family, and a family I would give anything to spend all the time in the world with. I don’t think for one second that I’ll ever find anything else that gives me the same feelings as YYC does, and for that I am truly grateful’.
Then finally (there’s so much more to YYC but if I wrote about EVERYTHING this would go on forever and it’s gone on for quite a while already), there is of course, the music. Being musical is something very special, we should all be grateful for it. If being musical wasn’t my gift, I’d be a completely different person. At school, many people know me as ’the musical nerd girl’ (a title I am very proud of), as I’m the most musical person in my year. It makes me feel unique, yet YYC is one of the few places where I’m actually understood for who I am. I had started singing when I joined YYC, but was only a beginner and hopeless at sight-reading. Nearly 5 years later, I’ve improved so much, all thanks to this choir. Sight-reading comes naturally to me now when I sing, and after a lot of riveting memorising I now know sol fa and all the hand signs off by heart. Thanks to John and his trusty broom handle which he seems to take off and make use of every course, I also know all the rhythms of notes and the truly inspirational sounds that go with them (‘ta, ta-a, ta-a-a, ta-a-a-a, etc), and how to clap the speed of 60 crotchets per minute with extreme accuracy…. :) It seems after one day of singing with everyone, my voice increases in note range and quality. Our voices get used to working very quickly as each day is jam-packed with around 7 hours of singing, but it’s so much fun. This also means, however, that our vocal chords are always rather tired when it comes to the actual concert day, yet somehow mine manage to keep it together until I’ve sang my last note, then they will completely die on me. I would just like to bring your attention to something mentioned in the ‘why should you join a choir?’ post from earlier this year: "When people participate in a choir their heart beats become synchronised, and their pulses increase and decrease in union”. I read this, and just like that my questions about why YYC is my favourite place to be were answered. Our hearts are constantly needing to feel that beautiful connection between us all, hence why I miss you guys so much every day. That is my proof that my heart is only truly alive at YYC, and I can say that I know how it feels to have your heart literaly connect with someone else’s. I have experienced one of the most incredible feelings just by singing in a room full of sensational singers and overall amazing people, brought together through our pure love and talent for music. Whether it be heartfelt, lively, funny, sad or whatever else our brilliant Pryce-Jones’ have in store for us (in terms of pieces of music), it’s all mastered in the end, which makes it all the more enjoyable when listening to it over and over again (pretty much how all of my evenings are spent). The gift of music brought me this choir. So thank you, music, for everything.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over how much I love the Yorkshire Youth Choir. Every day is a countdown to next course (which isn’t long now!), and when a time comes in which I can’t count down anymore, I will remember all the times I spent with everyone, all of them being most of the happiest of my life. I will spread the word about us and support the choir as much as I possibly can, and I will never, ever forget.