For the last few months, although it seems more like years, we have sung the ‘Hello’ song to start our Parkinson’s Choir rehearsal. Then we’ve sung our theme song, ‘When The Red Red Robin…’ in two parts, one the tune and the other the accompaniment, going bob bob bob bob bob bob bob bob bob bob, together with hand movements, designed to indicate the pitch.

Now I don’t want to blow my own trumpet, mainly because I never played the trumpet, but when you’ve sung at services in the Duomo in Florence and St Mark’s in Venice, albeit with school choirs,  it’s a bit irritating how funny the other singers find it when someone does an extra ‘bob’ at the end.

When  you’ve spent a week studying at a summer music school, being taught by the late Dr Carl Dolmetsch the finer points of how to play Gordon Jacobs’ Variations, which was written for him and thus are receiving information from the man who played it while the ink was yet to dry, singing a song with the ‘lyrics’ “A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P W R S T U V W X Y Z” in the form of a round doesn’t really pose a challenge.

When you have played contrabass clarinet and baritone saxophone in a concert band who won the British Association of Bands and Symphonic Wind Ensembles and represented GB in Europe, and recorded at the BBC studios in Maida Vale and Broadcasting House for Radio 2’s ‘Friday Night Is Music Night’ and Radio 3’s ‘Bandstand’, watching the others sword fight with tuned plastic tubes holds little appeal.

As Buffy sings in the musical episode ‘Once More With Feeling’

“Don’t give me songs, Give me something to sing about!”

Listen to the song here

The problem lies not with the choir, nor the choir leader, nor the songs, it lies with me and my Parkinson’s. I can’t play as well as I used to play, my fingers don’t obey as swiftly as they used to, my breath control is not what it once was and my voice is often too soft to be heard.

It is depressing that Parkinson’s has made that which I once found possible, impossible.

I don’t need songs, give me something to sing about!


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