A way to beat those uni blues- making friends and having fun

I remember when I first discovered La Trobe had a choir, at an O-Week stall. I was stoked – a choir at uni? Really? Yes, really. The La Trobe University Choral Society, affectionately shortened to “LaTUCS” by members. The full name is one heck of a mouthful at times (try saying it three times fast and you’ll see what I mean). LaTUCS, in its current iteration, started seven or so years ago. I’ve been a member since O-Week of last year (2016).

When I first heard about it, I was concerned about being able to commit to the evening rehearsals and meeting new people. Would I get along with them? Once I plucked up the courage to go, however, I realised I needn’t have worried. The choir community is a great group of people who look after each other. Plus, it’s so much fun! We have students and non-students alike in LaTUCS. Some of us have been around for a few years and others, like me, joined more recently. We welcome everyone – you don’t even have to be able to sing or read music. What’s more important to us is having fun, connecting with people and maybe having a few new experiences along the way.

Let me take you through a typical choir evening –

It’s always such a relief to know that for a couple of hours every Wednesday, we can leave our uni concerns behind us and focus on having a good time instead. The fun starts around 5pm in the Eagle Bar for dinner, where we gather and socialise to unwind from the day.

Eagle Bar has “Open Mic” afternoons on Wednesdays from 4-6pm, which provides a great atmosphere. Sometimes choristers even have a go singing in front of the mic themselves, though it’s never compulsory. The time spent at the Eagle Bar is a great way to make new friends and get to know choristers before rehearsal. We talk about lots of different things, from funny to serious stuff.

Rehearsal starts at 6:30pm, or thereabouts. We make our way in groups up to the Davidson Room at Glenn College, our rehearsal room. There we form into sections based on our vocal range, Soprano (high), Alto, Tenor and Bass (low). Don’t worry if you have no clue what I’m talking about!

Like I said at the beginning, you don’t have to know how to sing in order to join. We help each other out, with our conductor guiding the way. We rehearse for a couple of hours, with a drinks/toilet break in the middle. At the end of the evening we walk in clumps back to our transportation home, though sometimes we extend the night by going to the Stolberg pub first or “Stollies”, for those who don’t know).

Past social evenings have included SingStar ‘competitions’ (where singing is non-compulsory, competition is only as fierce as you want it to be and everyone has a laugh) and pizza nights.

Sometimes we use rehearsal time to prepare for a concert, that we then put on for the wider La Trobe community. Last year, we sang in the Agora during Pride Week. The year before that, we joined together with the La Trobe Society of Music (LUSoM) and the La Trobe Pipe Band to perform in September 2015. We’ve also performed in a few other bigger community-organised works. It’s great fun.

LaTUCS is a great way of making friends and not just with other LaTUCS members. See, as well as being our own society, LaTUCS is also part of a national association of university choirs – Australian Intervarsity Choral Societies Association (AICSA). This means we’re connected with about 12 university choirs across the country. It’s a giant network of friends – I’ve made several through it already. Every year this network gathers for a major event, an Intervarsity Choral Festival, for socialising and rehearsing, to perform in a concert.

In January 2018 the festival is in Melbourne, with LaTUCS as a host choir. Our conductor is even one of the convenors, and our President and Vice-President are the social secretaries (organisers of the socialising). We’re going to be part of something awesome!

Choir is such a fun relaxing space. I’ve made some really strong friendships from participating. It’s a place where we’re free to be ourselves and have fun, maybe even with a little bit of singing thrown in.

Whether you’re just looking for a relaxing fun-filled chill space, or to be a part of a big community, LaTUCS has something for you. Come and try us out!

If you’re interested, like the LaTUCS page: https://www.facebook.com/LaTUCS/, send an email to latucs@latrobe.edu.au or come along to a rehearsal. Like I said above, we run every Wednesday night from 6:30-8:30PM, with time in the Eagle Bar from 5PM.

Hope to see you there!

By Claire Keogh
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