Close to my Herts: Helen Lappert
Helen Lappert, director of Singing Circle in Radlett, tells Louise McEvoy about her love of singing and her plans for the future
Tell the reader a bit about yourself.
I moved to Radlett whilst pregnant with my first child 17 years ago. I still live in Radlett and now have two teenage children who will soon be leaving school. I can remember my own mother urging me to gain secretarial skills so I’d never be without work. At that point in my life, I was desperate to pursue a career on the stage. However, good sense got the better of me and I decided to train as a bilingual secretary. After a short spell with the Foreign Office, I found a fascinating job where I stayed for years as PA to a management consultancy. I stopped working to have my children and joined an a cappella choir, which I now direct. Years later, my love of singing led me to set up a business, Singing Circle, giving group singing lessons to ladies and children.
When did you start singing and how has this developed over the years?
I can’t even remember when I started singing, I was that young. My mother was always singing around the house, so it was inevitable my brother and I would join the school choir. Our school choir was highly successful, winning many contests and appearing on BBC Radio 4 regularly. I took all the singing grades and learnt piano and oboe. When I left school, I continued to sing with a choir, appearing on Opportunity Knocks.
Up until my children were born, singing was something I did in my spare time. All that changed when I received an offer to run pre-school music classes. This I did for several years until my daughter and friends, aged 11, asked if I’d teach them to sing, and that’s how the first Singing Circle class was born.
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Several months later, the mothers of the Singing Circle children were discussing how they wished they could have singing lessons too – cue the first Singing Circle lesson for ladies. Now, with three ladies’ classes and two children’s, we are about to open a new class for beginner ladies in November.
What is the main aim of Singing Circle?
To instil confidence and a love of singing in all who join.
What has been the highlight of your singing career so far?
There have been two highlights – the first was when I won the national ladies’ barbershop quartet contest with my quartet NoteOrious in 2008. The second occurred two years later when I directed Amersham A Cappella, a choir of more than 50 ladies, to victory in the 2010 UK barbershop contest, where we won gold.
Do you believe everyone has the ability to sing?
From my experience, yes, everyone has the ability to sing, it’s just that some people find it harder than others to sing in tune. There can be many reasons for this, although the most common is lack of confidence.
Are there any forthcoming events for Singing Circle?
Yes, several local performances, a karaoke night, a trip to see a musical, and we’re also planning our next singing trip abroad. See our website for more details www.singingcircle.radlett.info
How do people join?
We’re always delighted to welcome new ladies and children to the classes. The new Thursday class is especially for ladies who are complete beginners. It starts with a free taster lesson on Thursday, November 3, from 10am to 11.30am. There are no criteria, apart from a desire to sing. Visit www.singingcircle.radlett.info or call me on 07799 068554.
What do you love about Hertfordshire?
I love the abundance of parks, woods and canals and the fact that there are still places in Hertfordshire I have yet to discover.
Describe a perfect day out in Hertfordshire.
It is a cycle ride with friends along the canal from Rickmansworth to Berkhamsted, taking in Cha Cha Cafe in Cassiobury Park and Woody’s in Apsley, followed by The Three Horseshoes in Winkwell. Wonderful!