Inside Singing: Louise Sparkes

I was lucky to grow up in a musical family; my gran is a retired music teacher, so maybe I didn't get too much choice! We also lived in a borough with a really good music service, so the opportunity to learn instruments, join groups or even sing at the Royal Albert Hall was always there. I was never patient enough to become good at playing anything, but exploring the different options was great as a creative outlet.

I got to have a pretty amazing singing experience in my teens purely by being in the right place at the right time. I was in my school's version of Joseph and happened to be seen by the choir director for the West End production, who asked a group of us to join. So, when I was fifteen I spent a year singing in the choir at the New London Theatre, which was an incredible experience and more than a decade on, is still the 'interesting fact' I use about myself in those awkward corporate moments when you need an ice-breaker!


I work in HR in the fashion industry - which I really enjoy - but of course there can be elements that take their toll, and working days that end up becoming evenings. I really missed performing, so I searched online and came across City Academy Songbirds. Singing with the choir becomes even more of a highlight during those tough working weeks, because I get to leave the office on time and spend two hours focusing on something completely different from my job. It's a great way to clear my mind and ease some of the pressure. The fact that we tend to go for a drink afterwards doesn't hurt either! It means that even if there are times when work takes over, there's a ready-made social event in my diary.

Singing just makes me happy... is there anyone who doesn't feel instantly better about life after belting out a few power ballads?!

Before my first rehearsal, I was a bit worried that an all-female choir might be cliquey or competitive, but it's completely the opposite. It's the most supportive, inspiring, wonderful group of women I've ever met - our solo auditions take all night because we all want to cheer each other on! I've been lucky enough to not only get great performance experience out of being part of the choir, but brilliant friendships too.

I don't want to toot our own horn too much, but I do think that the sound we create when we come together is something pretty special, and it can only be achieved by the whole choir working really hard and listening to each other. Our tutor, Kat, pushes us with each concert to try more complex material and it definitely pays off. We do around 16-18 songs, all learnt off book. We all want to do well for each other as well as ourselves, and we couldn't achieve what we do if that sense of a shared experience wasn't there.

Louise is part of one City Academy's six choirs. For other vocal opportunities, such as one-to-one and group lessons, have a look around our singing department.