How I found singing again

Submitted by huw on Sat, 05/27/2023 - 16:46
A hen

By Melissa Dell’Anno, soprano

I can’t remember a time when I didn’t love music, and from an early age I sang in every choir and musical production I could, in school and then at university, whilst also learning to play the piano and flute.

After I left university I joined The Hertfordshire Chorus for a few years, touring Italy and Austria and thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. Then I got married, moved out of Hertfordshire and started a family, and somehow I didn’t pick up singing again for many years - until we got some chickens.

Shortly after moving our new hens in, we went away for a couple of days. When we came home we found that one of our chickens was missing. We assumed that she had been taken by a fox, until I saw on our local Facebook page someone had found a chicken in her garden, and did anyone know who she belonged to? I got in touch and it transpired that our chicken had managed to fly over our back garden fence into a neighbour’s garden, so I went round to my neighbour, popped the chicken in a box and took her back home, and gave her a stern telling off.

Two days later the chicken vanished again, so I checked with my neighbour and, lo and behold, our bird was back in her garden. Another (somewhat shame-faced) expedition with the box and I brought the bird home again. The next day I was again at my neighbour’s door to collect our travelling hen, and I was desperately trying to ingratiate myself with my neighbour when I spotted a piano in her sitting room. “Oh,” I said, “do you play the piano?” She replied that she was trying to teach herself to play, and asked whether I was musical, and did I sing? (Maybe I should have spotted the manic look of a recruiter in her eyes!)

A cup of coffee later and she had me agreeing to try her choir in Biggleswade, and also our church choir. Within a few months I went from not being involved in any musical groups, to being a member of Gamlingay church choir, the Amici Singers (in Biggleswade), The Ensemble of Friends (an a cappella group based in Potton), and the Ely Octagon Singers!

Who would have thought that a hen would be responsible for renewing my love of singing, and for bringing such pleasure back into my life! We are now a few years further along and I have moved house again, but this time I made sure I found a new choir straight away; I am very happy singing with such a talented group of people who make up the Royston Choral Society. And now I know that if I ever struggle to find music again, all I need to do is get some hens!