Profile

Claire Anstee

Claire works with adults and young people in a variety of settings,
directing two community choirs: Company of Voices and Tiverton Community Choir; supporting teachers in primary schools, leading singing walks and ‘singing conferences’ and also offers one-to-one lessons.

A typical choir session would begin with a fun physical and vocal warm up – this helps to warm up the voice and relax the body but also acts as an ice breaker and ‘destressor’ especially for those who are not so confident to use their voice.

We sing a huge range of songs from a variety of genres and may include jazz, world and contemporary styles. All songs are taught by ear ‘call and response style,’ (I sing a bit you sing a bit) so you don’t have to have had prior experience or be able to read music.

Claire has an energetic and inclusive approach to singing and vocal exploration. Her style is relaxed, affirming and fun. Claire is also skilled at holding a safe space and is a sensitive facilitator. She enables others to discover their natural voice, which can be personally liberating. Singing with Claire will definitely put rhythm in your toes and a spring in your step!

What Claire says about singing:-

Singing is such a wonderful way to bring people together
Singing is physically relaxing and stress-relieving.
Singing is spiritual and therapeutic.
Singing boosts confidence and makes you feel good.
Singing is carbon neutral and organic!
Singing together improves listening and communication skills and can create a stronger sense of community.

But more than this, singing is fun!
 

 

Company of Voices

Around about 2002 or even longer ago, I joined the group who at the time had Gibby Swaine as their leader. The choir met in Holway School Library/Music room. It was okay, but acoustics were somewhat lacking. We were quite small in number but a friendly group. Occasionally Gibby played piano accordion at the end of the session and led us in an Israeli or other dance. I loved that bit.
Later in the choir`s history we were led by Caroline Rigby who taught beautiful Bulgarian and other Eastern European songs and some traditional British ones too.         “You must learn the words. No pieces of paper!”
Excellent teaching and we started to perform (a bit). We were usually about fifty per cent in favour of performing and fifty per cent not keen (that included me).
We enjoyed a term or two with ‘swashbuckling’ Yvette Staelens who dealt well with our insecurities.
“You don`t need written words. They`re all in your brain. They’ll come back when you sing.” (Correct. They usually did.)
Then we had a longish time with Alison Whitall who taught us lots of quite taxing songs and also encouraged us to “get rid of those bits of paper”. We sang at the Bristol Big Sing each year and grew in confidence.
Yvette returned to support us during Alison’s pregnancy and some of us joined the Bridgwater based Voice of the People because we loved Yvette`s teaching and wanted to go to Prague and Krakow with her feisty choir.
Claire Anstee is now cajoling us into far more confident performing and we really are building up a great repertoire. She chooses fun and appropriate material for us and things seem to be on an all-time high. We love it that she teaches her Tiverton choir the same songs so that we can perform together on occasions like the Big Sing.
Throughout the years the one constant thing lacking is enough men to take over the tenor and bass sections. We do like the ones we`ve got though. Thank you, guys for the “dum de dums”. 

Liz Ollerenshaw

Company of Voices has a sister choir Exe Valley Voices based in Tiverton. This choir is also under Claire's leadership. The two choirs often join together to sing and perform - If Tiverton is closer for you please visit their website.

 

WaterAid

The Natural Voice Network, of which Company of Voices is part, supports the charity WaterAid and so we sometimes perform to raise funds for their programmes. We have also taken part in the ‘Sing for Water’ events in London and Bristol.

WaterAid and its partners use practical solutions to provide safe water, effective sanitation and hygiene education to the world’s poorest people. Working with local communities in Africa, Asia and the Pacific region, they use low cost technologies to deliver lasting solutions. They also seek to influence policy at national and international levels.

For more information about WaterAid, see their website: www.wateraid.org

 

Member's comments

Singing in the choir makes me forget all the trials of the day. (Elaine)

Everyone told me I couldn’t sing, but I wanted to. Now I join in with the rest and the result is lovely harmony. (Joan)

 I joined the choir to have some time for myself. I didn’t expect the absolute joy of singing, or the laughter. (Mel) 

When you've got a sore throat, it's a good idea to put a Tune in your mouth. (Jonathan)