It starts with a warm-up

“Okay everybody. On your feet. Let's do a little warm-up, shall we?”

And with that, 45 self-professed I-can't-sing singers rise to their feet to follow Christ Church Cathedral's director of music, David Drinkell, as he has them shake out their hands, relax their necks, suck in their guts, and lower their shoulders. Then comes the vocalization exercises: humming and me, me, meing up and down the scales. “You should feel it between your eyes, just where your glasses sit, for those of you who wear glasses.” Apparently those sinus cavities you curse when you have a cold are what helps sound resonate when you sing; who knew?

With the exercises over, David has the Paper Baggers “rocking, rolling, riding, out a-long the bay,” on the “Morningtown Ride,” an easy song to warm up with and familiar to most everyone there. Then came the main event: “American Pie,” a song we all know and love and which turned out to be more difficult to sing than we'd thought. “Up you go!” shouts David over the sound of the grand piano, encouraging everyone to, again, suck in those guts and raise the eyebrows, both of them, to hit those high notes; amazingly, it does work. And no, we didn't sing the whole eight minutes and 36 seconds; maybe just as well. Thankfully, “Yesterday” proved an easier sing. “Well done; you sound quite good.”

Then it was time for a break and some socializing. Little knots of people developed around the room as friends, old and new, chatted away; a congenial group of people who love to sing, but who thought, or were told, they couldn't sing, along with a few who do sing in choirs, but who come to Paper Bag Singers so they can sing just for the fun of it.

We welcome people of all ages and singing talent.

And so the evening went, as have the four previous sing togethers: warm-up; sing two or three songs a number of times each; take a break; sing a few more songs, some new, some repeats; and wrap up with one more crack at a particular song. Interspersed though the evening are David's tips on how to sing particular passages as well as his wonderful stories garnered from his years of working with choirs and schools across Britain and his time in Newfoundland.

So join us, won't you. Only two more events this season: Monday, May 27th and Monday, June 10th. We welcome people of all ages and singing talent. We sing mostly the music we grew up with – all you flower children out there – and some we might not be so familiar with – always good to learn new things. Paper Bag Singers: it's all about having fun together. And oh yes, we did take a last crack at “American Pie” – we won.

Visit our Meetup page, view photos, and more.

For questions or more information: <paperbagsingers at>.

Lynn Melanson


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