Glee Bag Gum at the christmas lights switch-on event in the city centre this November

Sheffield Unchained meets community choir Glee Bah Gum

Sheffield Unchained contributor Jill Theobald, meets with the musical director of Glee Bah Gum to find out how singing in a community choir is ‘better than therapy’.

“If you’re in the room, you’re in the choir and that goes for the audience too, sometimes!”

Glee Bah Gum is a Sheffield community choir set up to be inclusive and welcome to everyone, regardless of age, gender, ability or anything else. Liz Yoxall, the choir’s musical director, explains:

“It’s about breaking down barriers to music. We do use sheet music but members don’t have to, it’s all about what people are comfortable with.”

Liz became involved in the Parson Cross-based choir two years ago as part of a scheme which sent entrepreneurs into local organisations as role models to assist on projects. Liz’s group was a school staging a charity concert and the participants wanted to recreate a performance inspired by the hit TV show Glee.

“It was supposed to be a one-off show. But at the end of the concert, the members turned to me and said: ‘Are we meeting up again on Monday, then?’”

Since then the group has been set up officially as a community choir with a bank account, board and treasurer.

The choir performed at this year’s Tramlines festival as part of its ‘world tour of Sheffield’ which also saw the organisation mark its second birthday at Queens Road Social Club with a ‘Glee Bah Gum Goes to the Movies’ event full of well-known film songs.

Glee Bah Gum T-shirt, photo by Jill Theobald

Glee Bah Gum T-shirt, photo by Jill Theobald

The team sang festive numbers at the recent city centre Christmas lights switch on and are lined up for a host of events in December including a Woman’s Institute Christmas coffee morning and ‘A Glee Bah Gum Christmas’ show at the Church on the Corner.

Glee Bah Gum’s youngest member is seven and the oldest, according to Liz “probably wouldn’t like me to say, so let’s just say they’re retired!

“We have said to people if they’re struggling with childcare issues and the kids are over the age of seven to bring their children to rehearsals with them, we don’t want anything to stop people getting involved.

“Equally, some parents have arrived to drop their kids off for rehearsal and waited in the foyer. Within a week or two, they might be at the back of the venue and before you know it they’re saying: ‘I may as well have some sheet music and give it a go!’

Glee Bag Gum at the christmas lights switch-on event in the city centre this November

Glee Bag Gum at the christmas lights switch-on event in the city centre this November

“People join Glee Bah Gum knowing they’re coming to a safe place where they’ll be welcomed from the minute they walk in the door. They can relax, take their mind off things and focus on something else in a non-stressful environment.

“In my view, it’s better than therapy!”