My kind of madness
By Angela Jameson Potts, 2nd Alto
It was last summer that friends first suggested I join Dowsing. It wasn't until February that I determined to find a way of leaving the house to go to a regular rehearsal that clashes really badly with the lifestyle of a young family. The logistics alone put me off doing anything.
Music is a huge part of my life – the radio is always on, my children are all learning instruments and dancing, I met my partner in a nightclub and cemented our relationship through our shared musical interests. Since I became a parent, live gigs have been relatively few and far between. But what this has made me realise is just how much live music affects me. It resonates in my soul and fills me with happiness like nothing else I know.
Somehow, I had to find a way of getting a regular fix.
With a bit of resistance from the kids and a very tight turnaround on a Monday evening, I found my way to Dowsing.
And now look at me. Completely hooked. Singing all the time and faced with the prospect of two live gigs in the space of a month! We are talking here about a woman whose sole adult claim to singing live meant belting out a less than sparkling rendition of Don't Stop Me Now to a carload of cringing kids as she negotiated the A14.
When I was handed a copy of Vampire Weekend's White Sky at the first rehearsal I came to, I could barely contain myself. Part of me thought, 'Great! I love Vampire Weekend!' I glanced at the score, realised how complex it was, glanced at Andrea and the words of Robert Wyatt sprang to mind:
"Your madness fits in nicely with my own
Your lunacy fits neatly with my own, my very own
We're not alone"
Honestly, it's hard to describe how lucky I feel to be part of the Dowsing thing. I feel like a small child presented with their first giant candy floss.
Doesn't everyone in Dowsing feel a bit like that?
I mean, I'm the first to admit that one possible reason for my complete infatuation with Dowsing is that, despite my inner conviction that I'm probably not very good, nobody seems to have noticed. Or at least, nobody has let on. (Thanks for your tact!)
But there's so much more to my perceived good fortune than that.
I feel lucky to be based in Cambridge, which definitely has more than its fair share of choral groups and musical organisations. I feel lucky to have found a choir that sings the kind of music I already listen to. I feel lucky, because even if every other choir leader in Cambridge were broad-minded enough to let me join, I cannot imagine that I'd get the same glow of camaraderie as I experience at Dowsing. Every week, I feel so welcomed into this throng made up of different ages, different backgrounds and varying abilities who've come together with one sole aim: to find our own voice, to find how it fits in with others' voices and get a buzz out of making music. That's it.
The fact that we do sound absolutely bloody amazing is as much (probably a lot more) down to Andrea's passion, patience, humour and vision as it is to our hard work. In our competitive world of prize-giving and talent shows, the idea of just having fun comes pitifully low on the list of priorities when you're trying to achieve outstanding results. It's a concept that purists and perfectionists struggle with.
Don't get me wrong: I realise there is no shortage of extremely talented and well-qualified performers in Dowsing – on the contrary: the rehearsal room is stacked with awesome vocalists and musicians – but in the absence of auditions, we are all made to feel equal. To me, it is precisely this nonchalance and absence of musical snobbery that makes Dowsing very, very special.