We all know the magical powers of singing, I think. It can make viable romantic partners out of even the most potato-faced of pop stars. But, I digress, which so early in the post is naughty. What singing undeniably is, is good for the soul and great for the disposition.
Julia Turner, a Bristol musician, vocalist, teacher and choir-leader, runs Bristol’s only specific BYOB (Bring Your Own Baby) choir. The choir sings adult songs, arranged and taught by Julia and is specifically for the parents and carers of small children and babies who love to sing, but don’t want to just sing kid’s songs all the time. Simply put, the choir warms up, practices songs, stops for a cuppa and a chat, and in the meantime, the babies play on the floor as it happens around them.
Choir members bring toys along as the venue is a big but empty space, and there’s plenty of room for buggies and other kids’ stuff. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t ever sung or think you can’t (the chances are you can really).
BYOB choir runs on a term-like timetable, and each term learns a different set of songs, culminating in a small gig somewhere. Last time it was at Caterpillar Cafe on a Saturday morning, so it’s not The Fleece on a Saturday night in terms of audience. And it’s non compulsory if you prefer to sing with just friends.
Here’s the disclaimer – I am a member and I absolutely love it. Singing day is my favourite day of the week. Not only has joining choir brought me my bestest new friends in Bristol and helped Tibbs socialise with some lovely kids her own age, but singing just lifts my mood, wherever it’s been that day. I love the songs, which are all cleverly arranged versions of folk and traditional tunes, and some pop songs as well. I love the atmosphere and the chats over hot drinks after singing, where we don’t just talk about babies, we talk about actual real life! And I love the way the singing makes the children react. Tibbs, as you can see from the first photo, often dances along. All the kids look up in wonder when we do our warm up exercises and some laugh at our funny faces. Many small babies fall asleep peacefully in slings as we sing.
BYOB Choir is based at the Elephant House in Bedminster with twice-weekly daytime sessions. Check out the FB page for times and prices. It’s open to anyone who enjoys singing and has a child in tow. I don’t think there is an upper age limit, it’s more of a question of whether your child is cool with playing whilst you sing – we spend a fair bit of time singing bent double scurrying around the room after crawling escapees. Our youngest member is four weeks old. Our oldest, well, it’s probably me.
BYOB choir is absolutely the right activity for you if you would like something on your parent/carer schedule that isn’t 100% all about your baby. This one’s for you. It just happens that the babies usually love it as well. We’d love to meet new choir members so get in touch! Also, if you know of any other choirs that welcome children in rehearsal, or enable parents to sing with their kids in Bristol, let me know in the comments section.
Thanks to Julia’s sister-in-law, Dot, for the photos used in this post. www.dotandlucyphotography.co.uk