SongTribe logo: the word 'SongTribe' written in rainbow letters in a playful font surrounded by small squiggly digital doodles

Join Us

SongTribe rehearsals are held on Wednesday evenings from 7-9pm in the hall at Old Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church.

We are currently open for new members to join us in September 2022. If you are interested in joining the choir, please fill in this quick form. We’ll then be in touch regarding a taster session at the beginning of the Autumn term.

Frequently Asked Questions

We rehearse in the hall at Old Saint Paul’s Scottish Episcopal Church. The address is:

63 Jeffrey St,
Edinburgh
EH1 1DH

It’s just to the south of Waverley train station, and 5 minutes walk from Princes Street. 

We usually rehearse on Wednesdays from 7-9pm usually during term time. The hall is open from 6:30pm for a blether over a cuppa before we begin singing. Bring your own mug (we’ll provide the tea)!

We have a google calendar that we keep up to date. Jessica, our administrator, will also include important dates in emails.

Singing in a choir is a team effort. When you join a choir you’re making a commitment not just to yourself and the musical director but also to the other choir members. The better the attendance, the better performances we give. Our expectation is that attendance from choir members is high, with full attendance for the 3 weeks before a performance and at least 70% attendance at sessions across each term. We do understand that life can throw curve balls and if you are unable to attend regularly, please let us know.

From the Royal Mile and the Bridges:

From the crossroads of the High Street and North Bridge (near the Tron Church), walk down the High Street (heading east). If you are walking, turn left into Carrubbers Close. Go down to the bottom of the close, and the hall is on the right at the bottom of the stairs. If you’re driving or cycling, head down the High Street (heading east). At the first crossroads turn left into Jeffrey Street. Old St Paul’s is on the left hand side.

From Princes Street:

From the Scott Monument heading east, turn right onto Waverley Bridge and go past the front of Waverley Station. At the mini roundabout, turn left on to Market Street. Pass under the bridge and turn right into Jeffrey Street. Old Saint Paul’s is on the right hand side. If you’re walking, you can go down Waverly Steps and through Waverley station – see directions below.

Trains:

Old St Paul’s is 2 minutes walk from Waverley Station. Head up the stairs at the back of the main concourse, onto the bridge walkway. Head for the south exit from the station (onto Market Street) and turn left under the bridge, then immediately right into Jeffrey Street. The church hall is on the right hand side.

Buses:

The following Lothian Bus services stop within a few minutes walk of Old St Paul’s:

35 stops on the High Street
6 stops on Jeffrey Street
1, 19, 22, 25 and 34 stop on Princes Street, at Waverley Steps
3, 5, 7, 8, 14, 29, 30, 31, 33, 37, 45 and 49 stop on North Bridge
41, 42 and 67 stop on Waverley Bridge

The following East Coast bus services stop on Princes Street near Waverley steps
X5, X7, X24, 104, 124

Bike parking:

The nearest bike racks are on the High Street, just to the west side of the Storytelling Centre, and in Waverley station, by platforms 2 and 3

 

There are some on-street paid car parking spaces in Jeffrey Street and also in East Market Street and Market Street. After 6.30pm you can park on single yellow lines in Jeffrey Street. Blue badge holders may park on double yellow lines with a single kerb stripe (except during peak hours).

Ali Burns the Musical Director says, “What do we sing? Well, I always look for songs with great words and because text and ‘story telling’ is so important to me I tend to mostly work in English and Scots. I love putting together sets of songs for choirs. I enjoy the drama of emotions that combinations of songs can lead you through – like sitting watching a good cabaret!

I’m drawn to songs that are inclusive and anthemic, big-hearted and life affirming; songs with text that’s inclusive and universal to the human condition. I love the dark theatre of Brecht songs and the deep spirit and infectious joy of Gospel songs and a whole palette in-between of quirky contemporary Indie music, folk, blues, Americana and world music songs. I’m also really excited by many new compositions from the Natural Voice Practitioners’ Network – from contemporary songwriters and composers like Helen Chadwick, Tony Backhouse, Kirsty Martin and Polly Bolton. And we’ll be doing quite a number of my own songs too.

So the short answer is – a diverse range of songs and styles. However, what I’m always looking for, are songs that sound right when sung by an acapella choir. Some do and some just don’t! That’s largely down to having well crafted arrangements that are easy for singers to navigate through.”

No, you aren’t expected to be able to read music.

The culture at rehearsals is to work as much as possible by ear but word sheets and written music are available. Over the course of getting to know a song it is expected that the paper will gradually disappear! There is an expectation that you will be ‘off copy’ by the concert, but prompt cards are possible too.

There are no auditions to take part in SongTribe. All enthusiastic, committed and willing participants are welcome.

Yes! The venue we rehearse in is accessible – there are no stairs. Toilets are available throughout rehearsal, including disabled facilities. We are happy to provide large print sheet music or other adaptations in order to make sure you can access the sessions – just let us know what you need and we’ll make sure we can help.

Our administrator Jessica sends out fairly regular emails to members with information about term dates, repertoire, arrangements for concerts, etc. We also have a SongTribe choir Facebook page used to publicise our events. It’s really helpful if members who use Facebook can like the page and share relevant event posts. 

We’ve also got a SongTribe Members Facebook Group for the social side of things – if you use Facebook you can request to join it here.

Our Musical Director is Alison Burns. Ali has been leading singing workshops since 1993 when she trained with Britain’s leading voice-work pioneer, Frankie Armstrong. Ali also runs singing retreats and teaches throughout the year at a range of workshops across the country. There is plenty more information on Ali’s website: aliburns.co.uk 

We generally perform at least one concert each term, though covid has prevented this for a while. Often these are organised by the choir. We ask choir members to sign up in advance to commit to performing at any concerts we’re planning. At our concerts, we perform from memory. Although this might seem a big challenge to begin with, it’s a skill that becomes easier with practice. 

We have a small group of members who help out with various aspects of organising events – if you’d like to be involved, just let Jessica know. 

Back at home all songs can be learnt by ear or from written music. Learning tracks of separate parts and PDFs of the music are available for members to download or listen to on DropBox. This music is licensed to the choir only and should not be shared.

Many members find it useful to bring along something to record the rehearsals, to ensure they have exactly what they need for learning at home. 

In order to minimise the amount of time we spend dealing with admin during choir rehearsals, from their 2nd term, choir members pay their subscription as a £22 monthly direct debit on the 1st of the month, which is payable throughout the year. This works out at around £7/night depending on exactly how many rehearsals we can fit in each year. It also also includes occasional one-day rehearsals which we run during the term when we’re working on concert repertoire.

Some people pay a little more than £22 (to support those who can’t afford the full fee), and some people pay a little bit less. We are an inclusive choir and money is not a barrier to attending.

We ask new members to pay fees for their first term in advance (normally 3 months – £66).

We’re looking to build a choir with as diverse a membership as possible. There are a number of subsidised places available for anyone who would struggle to pay the full fees. Please contact us for more information about this. We will never ask for evidence of your income status – we trust you to make a fair assessment so that the places are used by those who need them.

If you are interested in joining please fill in this very quick form. We will then let you know when the next taster session is – this is normally at the beginning of term (September, January or April). There is no cost to take part in the taster session. It is a great way to see if the choir is the right fit for you.

A photo of SongTribe at Hatton in 2017. It is sunny and everyone is wearing bright clothes