21st November 2022
Dynamic, inspirational and with an enviable confidence that belies her youth, Brooke Peverell runs Stamford Sings, a weekly choir for women who come together to learn a wide range of music in a driven but supportive environment. Under Brooke’s passionate leadership, the weekly sessions enable members of the choir to develop vocally and musically, and to enjoy the many benefits that belonging to a music group such as this provides – from precious ‘me’ time and improved posture to the buzz of working as a harmonious team
Tell us how it all began. You were very young, weren’t you…
It was 2016 and I was 19 at the time… I was asked by a group of women – one of whom I knew – whether I would be interested in setting up a choir of some sort. They thought I would be a good fit, it sounded fantastic to me, so Stamford Sings was born!
I’d been in choirs my whole life – since around the age of five – with a Salvation Army background, and I’d led the Sixth Form choir at Bourne Grammar, where I went to school, so it felt really natural and a very easy thing to do to set up one of my own.
Stamford Sings launched in April 2016, and it grew by word of mouth. I then founded a Rutland choir – Rutland Sings – just under a year later and a third choir, Bourne Sings, around the same time. By then it was full time for me – and I absolutely loved it.
What have been the biggest challenges so far?
Definitely Covid, which sadly put a stop to everything on the Sings front. We eventually did some zoom sessions during lockdown, but it wasn’t quite the same as all getting together in person. There was a lot of talk about hospitality and how catastrophically it was being affected by lockdown, but not so much about the arts, with singing particularly badly hit due to the risk of the virus being transmitted through the air.
Recovery for choirs took a very long time – it didn’t happen until 2021. I didn’t relaunch the choir until October 2021 – and, even then, we used testing to help members to feel safe and we spaced ourselves pretty far apart!
I had felt at that point that perhaps it was time to move on, but I kept receiving messages from former Sings members, checking in and saying how much they missed choir. That convinced me that it was time to start it up again, so I emailed ex-members to see if there was sufficient demand to do so. There absolutely was, so I decided to relaunch with just Stamford Sings. It felt amazing to be back.
What are the benefits of singing in a choir?
I think you can split the physical and mental benefits very clearly. Physical benefits include lowering the stress hormone cortisol, releasing endorphins (feel-good hormones), lowering blood pressure, increasing oxygen circulation and improving posture – you lift your neck to sing and pull your carriage up, straightening the back, which is all hugely beneficial to posture.
Mental benefits include stress reduction, as you’re totally distracted from day-to-day issues while you focus on the music. Quite a few choir members have young families and busy lives, and they don’t have that much time to focus on their own interests; coming to choir offers some ‘me’ time to them, some ‘time out’, and they tell me that is such a boost to them.
There’s a feeling of belonging and a sense of pride that both come with working as part of a team. We sing at seasonal events, which is always fun and invokes a strong sense of being part of the community. We are just about to put on our first concert since relaunching, with money raised from the concert going to the local charity MindSpace; supporting the community like this is definitely something we feel proud of as a group and it adds an extra dimension to choir. Working towards a concert is a great motivator too – the learning curve steepens as the concert deadline looms!
And then there’s the pure social side – friendships are formed (some of these go back to when we very first started) and choir members realise how much they have in common with other choir members. It’s so positive. It’s a really welcoming environment, and I feel very lucky to have this connection to such a lovely group of people.
What kind of music do you sing?
We sing a bit of everything: choral, rock, musicals, gospel, Disney songs, folk… It’s a great approach because there’s variety and, if you’re not keen on one particular style, you know there’ll be plenty of other things to sing too. Different genres can grow on you too… It can be surprising.
What level of experience do you ask for?
I do ask for some previous experience of singing in a group, but you don’t have to audition, so it’s not intimidating, and you won’t be put on the spot. If you’re interested in joining us, the best thing is to get in touch with me to chat about your experience of singing and music, and we can work out whether Stamford Sings would suit you. Most of our members do read music – and we use music to sing from – but I usually say that it’s beneficial but not essential. Some members have learnt to read music through choir, using it as a reason to upskill, which is wonderful.
Do you have space for any more members, if readers are interested?
Yes – we’re always happy to expand, so if you’re interested, please just get in touch with me and we can chat about it. Normally I’d invite you for a free taster session to see if you like choir. That’s the best way to find out what it’s all about – and we can take it from there.
Our schedule roughly follows school terms, so September through to July with breaks for school holidays, and during our terms we meet weekly on a Wednesday, from 6.45pm until 8pm, at Stamford Brass Rehearsal Hall.
I also run workshops from time to time and coming along to one of those is a great way to see if you’d like to come along to choir more regularly – or perhaps to get your singing fix if you are not able to commit to something on a weekly basis. The next one of these is an ABBA workshop on Saturday 14 January from 2–4pm. It should be brilliant fun.
FIND OUT MORE AND JOIN THE CHOIR
If you have any questions or are interested in joining, contact Brooke by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The ABBA workshop is on Saturday 14 January, 2–4pm, and costs £10.
Take a look at www.brookepeverell.co.uk, where you can find out more about Brooke and Stamford Sings.