(For choirs in other areas check out www.choirs.org.uk or www.makingmusic.org.uk ) In the summer of 2012, a partnership between Singaway and British Gospel Arts was funded by Waltham Forest Council to put on a series of workshops and establish a website for Choirs in Waltham Forest. Since that website is not currently maintained we have linked it to this page, which offers a personal view of the characteristics of each of the choirs listed here. This is not an impartial account and I welcome comments from others who may have different experiences of, and views on the choirs and groups listed here. If you are expected to read music or pass an audition before joining a choir this is clearly stated in the headings at the end of this list. Otherwise no particular skills, talents or experience are needed or expected.
Community Choirs: through the week
The BIG Sing meet on Mondays 7-9pm at St Peter in the Forest Church, 18 Woodford New Road, E17 3PP This community choir is part of a ‘family’ of BIG Sing choirs, open to anyone over the age of 12, singing pop, gospel, soul and contemporary songs. It’s pay-as-you-go £6 a session, and Patricia, the Walthamstow choir leader, told us that this also covers attendance at any of the other BIG Sing Choirs, all sharing the same repertoire and arrangements. When I joined for a session, I was impressed by Patricia’s ability to combine a highly professional style (supported with backing tracks and pre-recorded harmony parts) with a relaxed and encouraging approach. Phone: 01376 512292 or email info@big-Sing.com
Waltham Forest Community Choir meets on Mondays 7.30-9.30pm at St Marys Church, Church Hill and welcomes anyone living in Waltham Forest. Marie-Claude Perreault, the musical director, started this choir when she worked for the schools music service but it's now a self-funded adult choir. Phone membership secretary Tim 07954740745 or email for more information.
Sing17 (formerly the Warrant Officer choir) meets on Mondays 7.30-9.00 pm at The Trades Hall,61-63 Tower Hamlets Rd, E174RQ The choir is open to men and women who are welcome to just come along for an evening and give it a try. Members pay £7 (termly) £8 (drop-in) per session but the first session is free. I was given a warm welcome by the (then) small (but now grown to 35+) group when I went along for an evening. Laura, the choir leader combines a gentle and encouraging style with a highly professional approach to teaching a wide range of songs by ear, making sure that everyone has a good grasp of rhythm and melody before introducing simple harmonies for those who want to have a go at them. I particularly enjoyed her lively accompaniment on the keyboard! For more information, contact Laura on 07813 686980 or send her an email
Jenny la Touche Choir are a mixed age choir which meets at the Church of Christ the King at 455 Chingford Road, E48SP (just off Crooked Billet roundabout) on Tuesdays 7.30-9.00 from 9th September 2014. Contact Jenny on 07973390628 or email firstname.lastname@example.org . As a long-standing member of London Community Gospel Choir, Jenny's singing experience includes backing vocals for stars like George Michael, Madonna and Eric Clapton. Jenny also teaches singing to people of all ages with diverse learning needs. When I joined the choir for an evening it was buzzing with energy and fun. Jenny and Emmanuel, her accompanist, involved us all in the process of choosing songs, working out harmonies to suit our individual and collective voices, and encouraging less confident members to find their voice. U3A Singing for Fun meets in a private house on the second Wednesday morning of the month – U3A (University of the 3rd Age) is a network of self-help educational activities for retired and unwaged people. These really are just “Singing for Fun” groups with no pressure to read music or perform, or even to sing in harmony for those who just like to sing the tune. When I went along to Barbara's group, they were most welcoming and were accompanied on the piano by a young man who was paid through a whip-round among those attending that day. Contact Barbara Humm on 0208 9231960.
Rose & Crown Singers meets on Wednesdays 7.30-9.30 pm at: Rose and Crown Pub, 53 Hoe Street, E17 4SA This community choir works on a cooperative basis with choice of repertoire, arrangements and teaching being shared by members. We buy in the services of professional musicians to help us develop our skills, to introduce new styles of singing into our repertoire and to prepare for performances. Contact membership secretaries Wendy or Lib if you'd like to join the choir (or come along and try it out) and contact me if you're a musician who would like to work with us.
WAVE (Walthamstow All Voice Ensemble) meets Wednesdays 7.30-9.30 in the Melody Room at Harmony Hall, 10, Truro Road, E17 7BY. The first rehearsal is free, then it's £10/£8 per session. When I joined this choir for a session towards the end of their second term, I, and another newcomer, were greeted warmly and introduced to the lively and diverse group of singers who Virginia Firnberg, choir leader, has managed to recruit over a relatively short period. Virginia is clearly an experienced teacher of adults and also an excellent musician. In one session I learnt to sing four songs from memory, including an 8 part round, and the other songs in 3 or 4 part harmonies. Virginia achieved this by a) choosing repertoire and pacing the rehearsal to suit the competence of the group, b) playing keyboard accompaniment while mouthing the lyrics c) inviting and responding to requests for clarification and repetition at every stage d) combining a relaxed and informal approach with precise attention to the details of pitch, diction, rhythm and dynamics. All this inspired the confidence and joy in singing which I look for in a community choir. For more information contact Virginia on 07813-116505. To sign up, contact Jo on 07930 636678
East17 Singers are a new day-time choir for mums, dads and childminders meeting on Thursday mornings 10am - 11am at St Michaels & All Angels Church Hall, Northcote Road, E17 6PQ . Organised by Stephanie Miller, their musical leader is Gabriel Gottlieb, who comes along with his own toddler, bringing an eclectic mixture of songs for the adults to sing while the babies and toddlers play. I spent a morning with the group, and found them most welcoming and easy-going. While there's plenty of space for the children to run around, there are also lots of toys and they tended to play quietly and contentedly at our feet while we sang. Check the choir Facebook Page to check current news and meeting dates.
The Singing Room Choir meets on Thursdays 7.30 – 9.15pm St Gabriels Family Centre, Havant Rd., E17, Contact: Anna Williams: email@example.com phone 07931372996 Anna Williams is a music therapist who particularly welcomes those who want to overcome fears and anxieties in order to enjoy singing with others. She teaches all songs by ear and when I've heard the choir perform I'm impressed by their long and varied sets with no bits of paper (not even the lyrics) in their hands!
Gospel is where it all begins The B.I.G. Choir (Adult gospel training choir) is just one of a whole range of gospel singing activities run by British Gospel Arts, whose international HQ is based here in Walthamstow. Although this choir is not currently running in Walthamstow, you may want to travel to Islington or beyond to try it out. I've done a beginner course and several workshops with British Gospel Arts and these put me in touch with the gospel roots of soul, blues, reggae and all the funky music that you can't sing without moving your body!
WAM Singers Walthamstow Acoustic Massive (WAM) is an umbrella for acoustic music and singing groups (banjo, ukulele, violin, voice) run by Alison Jones and Dick Smith (@dickbanjosmith and www.banjosmith.co.uk) Over the past three years, individual singers, many of whom sing with other choirs, have come together to perform with WAM at local festivals and community events. Issy Adams has taken over the WAM choir from Lizzy Renihan this year Contact WAM if you'd like to hear about opportunities to sing with this great combo in 2016.
Vision voices Community Opera Meets near Whipps Cross Hospital Contact Deborah Aloba 07940384785 firstname.lastname@example.org
Choirs for people who can...
Julia is a member of the London Forest Choir , which meets on Mondays 7.30-9.45pm at Cornerstone Church, 149 Canterbury Road, Leyton E10 6EH. Contact me if you want to know more, or Marian Jarvis to join 020 8505 1154. Monday 15th September 2014 will be an Open Rehearsal (with free refreshments) for anyone who wants to see what it's like.
Felicitas (early music) meets Wednesdays 7.30-10.00pm at Woodford Green Preparatory School, Glengall Road, Woodford Green (good sight-reading essential for this small choir) Contact: Chrina Jarvis, 020 8527 5978 email@example.com
Valentine Singers meet Fridays7.30-9.45 at Gearies Junior School nr Gants Hill tube, Barkingside