A few weeks ago I was asked to lead a staff training session. It’s a long time since I have sung with ninety people, let alone pulled together a groups of totally unprepared counsellors and IT technicians and taught them to sing an entire piece within an hour.

As I approached the venue my tyre blew…. not a good sign some would say. The friendly and supportive welcome I got from the few professionals who knew what was about to happen suggested that all would be well. I forgot about the concept of getting home and concentrated on being in the moment.

The piece ‘This is me’ from the Greatest Showman had been requested and I had prepared carefully so that I could divide the group into two, engaging in some turn-taking, layering, harmonisation… encouragement, humour, a tiny bit of technique. Luckily some knew the song well and were able to carry those who were learning the tune for the first time and had only a word-sheet and me to rely on.

The song was an ideal choice. It is an uplifting number, affirmative in the extreme. Professionals who work with those who are marginalised, traumatised, and have mental health problems of all kinds enjoyed the positivity found in the lyrics and could perhaps relate to how a child might be encouraged by the words.

Some movement for people to join in with helped to give a structure people could recognise and to give a sense of pulse to the singing.

After the session I felt so proud of those people. They had learned a whole piece well enough to be worth recording. On wandering into the gardens of the hotel we were hosted at, a passer by asked if we were a professional choir!

Counsellors are amazing people. They embraced the challenge, and sang with people they have seen since before the pandemic. The charity I was working, TIC+, provide counselling for children and young people in Gloucestershire. Their website can be found at https://www.ticplus.org.uk. The statistics concerning levels of support are staggering. I was proud to be part of their team building session.