I love to accompany! – Margaret Ball

Margaret is a solid, reliable foundation in our choir with a fabulous, friendly and caring personality. She guides us through the tricky passages in our repertoire and is always on hand to help, whatever the issue. Margaret is the second longest serving accompanist in the 75 year history of the choir and we are so lucky to have such a talented musician in our music team; I know our MD Ian Grice highly values her support and experience – as do we all.
Instead of featuring a chorister this month, Margaret kindly wrote a blog piece for the website. You will see what we mean when we say she is invaluable!. Thanks Margaret.
Geoff Mansfield

I was born in Sutton in Ashfield and grew up in Mansfield Woodhouse with my parents and older brother. I was lucky that there was a piano in the house which had belonged to my dad’s mum. Grandma, who died before I was born, was a pianist and violinist. I started piano lessons when I was 4 years old and later played duets with my brother who also had lessons. My mum loved singing and possessed a good voice which I sadly did not inherit. My dad had had some piano lessons from his mum as a boy but gave it up as his brothers were outside playing and teasing him through the window! He could play the piano by ear though.

I used to enjoy listening to old 78 records on the gramophone, popular songs and pieces from the 1940s and 50s. As a teenager I collected a few classical music LP’s as my interest in classical music developed. I started learning the clarinet at the age of 16 and later went on to study music at Birmingham University. I enjoy listening to a wide variety of music in addition to classical. I had ballroom dancing lessons up until the age of 17, when the draw of the school hockey team became too great and Saturday mornings were set aside for matches rather than dance lessons! However, I have happy memories of waltzing around the ballroom above Market Chambers to the strains of Moon River; it has been a favourite song ever since.

My working life involved music as I taught in primary schools for 20 years; this included teaching music and taking choir practices. This was followed by nearly 10 years working in customer services for the county council.

I started to accompany the Male Voice Choir in November 2002 after an invitation from the then chairman to come along to choir practice and I have been there ever since, excepting during Lockdown of course! I have always found the choristers and supporters very friendly and welcoming and have enjoyed the music making, the concerts and social activities too. The younger members of the choir are valued and hopefully will attract and encourage more of their peers and friends to join. A variety of music in the repertoire including contemporary alongside the more traditional Male voice standards encourages engagement and enthusiasm from choristers and audiences alike. I like the distinctive sound and the power that the men’s voices can produce. There is a great camaraderie among the members and supporters, and it is great to be part of a team, meeting different people and making music together. New members can find a buddy to help and support them and all members are encouraged to practise at home in order to improve; this includes me too as I practise the piano parts at home.

I have always been actively involved in the Catholic Church, playing the organ for 40 years, latterly at St Philip Neri Church in Mansfield. I accompanied the church choir and played for services and concerts. When I moved to Nottingham in January 2020 I joined the Good Shepherd Parish. There has been no live music of course for over a year but I have been helping with stewarding at Mass. My Christian faith is a very important part of my life.

Aside from music I enjoy sport, especially football, cricket and tennis (spectating nowadays), jigsaws, walking in the fresh air and spending time with my family – my brother, daughter , son-in-law and grandsons who are aged 9, 7 and 4 as well as my 94 year old aunt. I keep meaning to begin a painting hobby soon – of the artistic kind not the decorating! I have the materials and instructions to hand and now just need some inspiration! I have also been sporadically trying to learn Italian with a CD and increasing the number of chords I can play on the guitar to more than 4!

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