It’s not every day that you’re greeted by a giant silver and gold bell. But that’s what happened when I went to a rehearsal of Beeston’s Rock Choir. Which took place at the Lanes Junior School.

I’m writing this in early November, so naturally its Christmas. Well, it is in the Rock Choir’s world, as they were rehearsing for a concert at the Albert Hall later in the month.

The group’s leader and musical director Jennie Harwood met me in the hall’s doorway dressed as a bell, as members arrived dressed as Santa’s elves, and other iconic Christmas emblems, and with plenty of Christmas jumpers on show.

After some voice warm up exercises an announcement that nearly all the tickets for the show had been sold, and a groanworthy cracker joke, Jennie announced that the evening would be dedicated to learning this one particular song: Carol of the Bells.

There was in the region of 80+ people in the choir that had been split into three groups, sopranos, altos, and basses. Each group took a turn with their particular part of the song, before they had a run through, all singing together into one harmonic melody.  It’s not a song that I am particularly familiar with, only really hearing it on a tv advert some years ago for a supermarket or department store.=

The evening was light and full of laughter, despite the work that was being put in. Jennie’s cracker jokes punctuated the rehearsal, which caused much groaning amongst the group.

Stalwarts of Beeston’s Oxjam for many years, they usually open the event, either in the Square, or as happened this year, outside the Oxfam shop on the High Road.

The break arrived, and I was able to chat to Jennie about the group and the forthcoming concert. “The Rock Choir began in 2005 by Caroline Redman Lusher in Farnham, Surrey. She was a music teacher at a 6th form college and was asked to create a choir for the students. She wanted to be in one herself, so that’s how the Rock Choir was formed.”

I then asked about the forthcoming concert at the Albert Hall in Nottingham. “Well, besides the Beeston group, I also run the ones in Derby, Mansfield, Mickleover and Duffield, we are all getting together to sing 14 songs on the 20th of November. Over 276 singers, singing their hearts out for the Rainbows Children’s Hospice”. At the time of the interview nearly all the tickets had been sold, but at the time of writing, it was a sell out. Meaning that over 600 people had seen the concert.

“I’ve been a professional musician for and number of years and joined the Rock Choir in 2013. It’s a great way of using my musical skills, and I think everyone has a good time. You don’t need to be able to sing, or understand music, just a love of singing.”

I wondered how the songs are chosen. “We have a creative team that looks after that, the membership and booking event.” It a big operation, as looking on their website, they have 30 employees at their HQ, who organise 2000 events a year, and look after the 80 leaders like Jennie.

Should you fancy having a go yourself, they offer free taster sessions. By the time you are reading this, they would have broken up for the holiday, so their new term starts on Thursday 12th Jan 2023 at 8pm at the Lanes Junior School on Cator Lane.