Here are a few things you may find helpful to know about the choir. If there’s anything we’ve missed then just let us know and we’ll be happy to answer any questions you have…

Q: It’s my first rehearsal, what should I expect? A: We start the singing at 7:30 but the doors are open shortly after 7 for people to come and grab some refreshments and catch up with friends before we kick off. We have another break later in the evening at around 8:15 and try to finish promptly at 9. All refreshments are free of charge, so help yourself to as much as you like. During the rehearsal itself, Chris will take the choir through the songs for that term, working through the different parts and tweeking things we’ve already done. You don’t need to be able to read music, and the words will all be up on the screen (that way people have their heads up and can see what’s happening rather than being buried in bits of paper!). You’ll never be asked to sing a solo unless you volunteer to try out for one so don’t panic!

Q: Where should I sit? A: The choir is divided into four parts – sopranos 1&2, the altos and the men. If you’re a lady that likes to sing up high then grab a seat with the sopranos (on the right of the hall as you face the front). Prefer to sing lower?…take a seat with the altos (in the middle of the hall). If you’re a man, it shouldn’t be hard to work out where you’re sitting! If you’re new to choir singing and have no idea where you’d be best placed then try out one camp and swap if you need to. No one will stare at you if you need to move!

Q: I’ve just paid my money at the door, what is that used for? A: What people get for their money is an hour-and-a-half’s fun, singing and laughs and unlimited tea, coffee, bottled water & cake for the evening! Pretty good value we reckon! Some of the money is used to cover running costs and also to help offset big expenditures (paying towards a coach or venue hire, equipment etc). Some money is also used to support projects in the community too, such as Pilgrims Hospice and those run by Ashford Vineyard.

Q: I’ve filled in a registration form, why do you need my details? A: We use email as one of our main ways of keeping in touch with people in the choir, so it’s really helpful for us to have an email address for you. It may also be the case that we sometimes need to contact you at short notice about performance details, which is why it’s also helpful to have a phone number for you. We won’t ever pass on your information to anyone else, and if you decide to leave the choir at some point then we’ll remove your details from our system. If your details change at all, just let us know and we can keep the details up to date!

Q: I saw on the website that Ashford Sings! is ‘sponsored by’ Ashford Vineyard, what’s that all about? A: Chris and Nic also run a church called Ashford Vineyard and we use the wording of ‘sponsorship’ so people don’t feel like they’re coming along to a ‘church choir’. While the choir technically comes under the AV charity, the choir is no way a ‘church choir’, so you don’t have to be any part of a church to come along. Anyone is welcome in the choir irrespective of their age, background, religious beliefs etc etc, and our repertoire isn’t made up of religious songs. Basically, Ashford Vineyard gives Ashford Sings! as a gift to the community. You can visit the website at www.ashfordvineyard.org if you have more questions, or just chat to Chris or Nic.

Q: As a community choir, what other links do you have with the local community? A: We are very proud to have partnered with Pilgrims Hospice. Since we started AS!, we have raised around £25,000 for Pilgrims Hospice and enjoy the relationship we have with them. We also work towards some of the compassion projects that Ashford Vineyard run and have, in the past, worked with Rare Breeds, the Caldecott Foundation and gigged at many, many places around Ashford, from schools to shopping centres and pubs to on the street!

Q: I’ve seen people wearing clothes with the Ashford Sings! logo on them, do I need to buy some? A: We wear clothing with our logo on for any performances we do and there will be an opportunity to buy tops at some point each term. There are a range of styles available to choose from. For performances, you can wear anything black on your bottom half, and can accessorise in any of the Ashford Sings! logo colours. There are also AS! fleeces and jackets available if you wish.

Q: I’m finding it hard to remember my part and learn the words, any ideas? A: The Ashford Sings! website has a downloads page where you’ll find mp3s of the various parts, and files with the words for all the songs. If you’re not very confident with computers or don’t have a way of listening to the mp3s, then we’ve had some volunteers in the choir who have offered to print the words off or put the parts on a CD for you. Just let us know if you need some help here and we’ll try and point you in the right direction. Often, the different parts have informal rehearsals at some point in the week and everyone is welcome to go along. These are held in people’s homes or in pub function rooms or The Warehouse etc

Q: I don’t think I can come to all the rehearsals, is that a problem? A: Not at all! If you can’t always make it along on a Sunday evening then it’s not a problem, you can always visit the website to see the blog, which will have any important news or information on it from the last rehearsal. You can also use the Downloads Page on the website to help you catch up if you need to.

Q: I’ve got some friends I think I would like to bring along, is that ok? A: Absolutely! We don’t have an upper limit on numbers (we’ll just keep moving venues if we outgrow where we are) and as far as we’re concerned, the more the merrier! We even have the policy that if you bring someone new to a rehearsal, you don’t have to pay that week…can’t say fairer than that! It’s also the case that if you bring along a bloke, you get two free weeks!

Q: Anything else I should know? A: The Ashford Sings! website is the authority for everything you need to know and we update it each week with any news or information you may need about rehearsals, performances etc. If you can, make sure you visit the website regularly to keep up to date. We also have a Facebook group where people keep in touch about what’s going on within the choir. You can join the group by clicking on the Facebook button at the bottom of this page. We’re also on Twitter, so do click on that link below too!

The main thing you need to know is that Ashford Sings! is all about having fun, so come along ready to join a community of people who love to sing together and laugh at the same time. No one will be asking for your singing CV and as Chris tells people, if you do sing a duff note…just look at the person next to you and frown!

Last updated January 2016