Community Vocal and Choral Music

“Virtual Amateur Chorus”

The woman with her mouth

shaped in a perfect “O” 

I imagine she sings opera 

or is in a fine classical chorus. 

I see Ellen in her 

Zoom’s square living room, 

the daughter of an old friend’s friend 

from Berkeley. The conductor is in 

his home country of Sweden. 

It is eleven San Francisco. 

It is night in Sweden, 

but I can see through his window pine trees 

and it is still light out. 

From eleven to twelve, 

I do not check virus numbers 

or watch the news. 

In our hundreds of soundless little spaces, 

The harmony, unheard, is perfect. 

Reprinted with kind permission from the upcoming anthology Pandemic Puzzle Poems, to be published by Blue Light Press, San Francisco. You can read more poetry by Alice Rogoff, and more poems about music, in Fog and Light, also from Blue Light Press.

Our April “Singing Saturdays” featuring Verdi Requiem starts April 10.

Community Vocal and Choral Music

That great new team sport: singing!

Everybody’s saying it: Choral singing is good for you! Just google “choral singing” and you’ll get tons of references for how singing with a group boosts mental health, boosts mindfulness, and is just an all around good thing.

I saw an interesting segment on “Face the Nation” recently, an interview with author Daniel Pink, whose book When (“The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing”) focuses on the physicality of creativity and how to maximize our bodies’ natural rhythms to be more effective and happy. He discusses exercise and how crucial it is to take regular breaks incorporating a walk or other movement.

He also talks about teamwork and how powerful synchronizing and coordinating with other people can be. “There’s a new exercise out there, and it’s choral singing! Choral singing has benefits that are just extraordinary, at the physiological level and the psychological level. It is useful for cancer patients, it improves your immune response, it boosts your mood; so there’s something about synchronizing with other people that makes us feel good.”

Pink goes on to say that in children the effect of teamwork and particularly singing is even more dramatic: “I think there’s some good evidence that in schools, that choir (and) choral groups, not only as an ancillary activity, but as something that actually boosts the moods of kids, improves their social and emotional learning, and could conceivably make them better citizens of the school.” And I would add, of the world!

Link to the Daniel Pink interview.

(the choral part is at about 4:30, but the interview is short and the whole thing is terrific.)


Hello from Lolly Lewis

Hello and welcome to the Amateur Music Network blog!

This is my first post so I thought I’d introduce myself: I’m Lolly Lewis, the founder of AMN.

Lolly Lewis, Amateur Music Network

I’m a recording producer and an amateur singer, and I sang for nearly 15 years with the San Francisco Symphony Chorus. This is where I learned how porous the boundary between “amateur” and “professional” is in music. I studied music and singing in college, and I have sung professionally (that is, for money) from time to time. But as a career, I was more interested in recording than in singing, and my passion is working with artists to make beautiful recordings. So I didn’t pursue a career as a performer, and I preferred to stay under the radar in chorus without the stress of auditioning to join the professional ranks. Nevertheless, the expectation of all singers, paid and volunteer, was to perform at a level commensurate with singing in one of the great orchestral choruses of the world! So we all worked hard and the satisfaction was immense. I’ve sung some amazing repertoire with some of the great Maestros of our time! How fortunate is that. And all as a true amateur: I do it because I love it.

The difference between amateur and professional in our culture seems so arbitrary. Yes, we all know there are players of the highest ability and skill level, those who dedicate their lives to playing music. Thank goodness for them! I love hearing that skill and dedication in concert, and imaginative experiences of such power are central to my life experience and satisfaction. Hooray for great concerts!

But that doesn’t mean that the rest of us can’t have profound and joyous music performance experiences of our own, at whatever level we are comfortable. That’s why I founded the Amateur Music Network – to give people opportunities to sing and play, to improve their skills, and to join with one another to experience the joy of music-making.

I hope you’ll find this website useful in your own path and that you’ll help spread the word about the AMN. The more people in our community, the more vitality and richness we’ll all find here.