I imagine for most of us, even those of us who are not “singers”, our first experience of singing was as part of a group. Singing in church, or with your family round the piano, or in school assembly. This was the case for me. Most of the singing I’ve done in the last ten years has been a soloist – its in the job description, after all – but I started out in choirs, and I missed it.
So, about two years ago I joined an acapella choir based in London. The Noteables were then, and are now, a really diverse group of people from all backgrounds. If you look at us on paper I think you’d be surprised to learn how well we get along. Teachers, bankers, lawyers, parents, early twenties up to fortysomethings. We are all at different points of life and have different priorities, but choir is something that matters to us all equally.
We were asked to take part in the new BBC show, Pitch Battle. At first it seemed kind of surreal to me and I had no idea what to expect. I have to confess that TV is really not my forte; I haven’t lived in a house with a telly for about 12 years and I’m not clued up at all on stuff like judging panels and talent competitions. It was surprising to learn how many people do watch TV at the weekend. Part of me was concerned I’d be a weak link in this area for the rest of my group.
Luckily, it turned out there was nothing to worry about. We weren’t there to complete some sort of test on how much TV trivia we knew; we were there because we love to sing together. Everyone was new to TV – we were all in it together and the team kept us helpfully briefed at every stage over what would actually happen. Also, it was so ridiculously fun to be a part of! Honestly the main thing I took from being involved in the show is a) how many phenomenally talented people there are out there and b) how darn NICE they all are.
We are in the show alongside some incredibly inspiring groups from all over the UK. Over the course of the shoot we all became friends. I remember arriving the first night and spotting clumps of people in the hotel with branded t-shirts or huddled round some sheet music. We Noteables would nudge each other and wonder if it was a fellow group. By the end of the shoot we were crowded around in the hotel bar, drinking and laughing with those same people who had been strangers days before. That’s pretty remarkable! It was just constant laughter; no drama, no tears (well maybe one or two in our group), no gossip or backstage snark. Just support and respect; warmth and fun.
The show is a competition- but a joyous one. I felt genuinely happy watching other choirs smash their performances. Since the shoot wrapped we have all stayed in touch. It’s amazing to see people sharing their journeys as a group; and even more incredible to all overlap at this huge, nationally broadcast juncture. I had so much fun making the show and being a small, tiny part, of something so big.
I know so much of the backstage fun you won’t see on TV (although check social media!). Things like the two hours I was dressed as Dorothy on the “yellow brick road”. Or the first day the live band were on set, which I spent admiring the guitar section and pedal board set up with some fellow guitar nerds from other choirs (#tribe). Or the many, many hours we spent rehearsing with plastic water bottles instead of mics – seriously, the place was crawling with water bottles.
But there are so many other bits you will get to see on TV: the arrangements, the band, the choreography, the fireworks and set and just the level of hard work and talent. And I really hope you get to see some of the camaraderie, joy and fun that happened off stage. Even if just a tiny bit of that comes through on TV it will be worth watching. X
You guys know how much I LOVE a live tweeting sesh, so if you’re awaiting my witty and incisive commentary I’ll be joining in from 7:20. Our episode is broadcast tonight!