MAXINE GORDON finds her voice at Lucy's Pop Choir in York

IF, like me, you like singing in the shower and have been known to prance around the house with a hairbrush as a mic, then joining a choir could strike just the right note.

But if, also like me, you're turned off by the thought of auditions and can't read music, you've probably never got round to it.

Until now.

Lucy's Pop Choir is run by energetic York singing teacher Lucy McLean. Established back in 2013, she now has eight choirs across the country – three in York, two each in Leeds and Peterborough, and one in Harrogate.

Her latest venture in our neck of the woods is at the Bishopthorpe Sports and Social Club, where around 30 enthusiastic and friendly wannabe choristers turn up on a Monday night to sing their hearts out.

I joined them with my friend Helen. Within moments of arriving, other members were chatting to us, and showing us a folder containing their repertoire of songs, which included Shotgun by George Ezra, Can't Stop The Feeling by Justin Timberlake, and disco favourite September by Earth, Wind & Fire.

Then Lucy, a bubbly yet down-to-earth blond with a drumstick as a baton, called us all to attention, instructing us to gather in the middle, and split in sections – altos to the left, sopranos to the right, and the rest... stuck in the middle with me and Helen.

The middle group were by far the largest. They, we were told, have the responsibility of singing the main melody. That suited me and Helen fine.

As lyric sheets were handed out, Lucy played the song we were about to learn: a new one for the choir – Wonder by Emeli Sandé.

Patiently, Lucy took each line in turn, getting us to sing it back, then worked on the harmonies with the altos and sopranos. Within 20 minutes, we had nailed the first half of the song.

But to keep us on our toes – and bring variety to the 90-minute session – we learned another song too: Perfect, by Pink (the radio-friendly version!).

Again, we got about half way through and were making good progress, when Lucy switched us back to the first song to see what we'd remembered.

As we belted out each line, it sounded surprisingly good. I'm intrigued to see what it will sound like in a few weeks' time after more practice.

There were quite a few first-timers like me and Helen at the session (which replaces a group previously run at Archbishop Holgate's School on Wednesday evenings). All said they loved the session and would be back.

Jane Miller, 56, of Bishopthorpe, said: "It was great fun and I really liked Lucy. She's really vibrant and I love the enthusiasm.

"It's really easy for me to follow too – I don't have to be able to read music.

"It made me feel really good and want to come back." Jane enjoyed the songs too, especially Perfect. "I saw Pink in concert. I really like that we sing pop songs – and that people are really friendly."

Simon Lee was the sole man in the choir – although there are a couple of males at Lucy's other York venues at Manor School (on Tuesday and Thursday evenings). More men are welcome, she says.

For the past year, Simon has been adding his deeper tones to the alto section and really likes attending. He used to attend the Wednesday-night session and is just one of several Wednesday night regulars who have switched over to the Monday choir.

"I used to enjoy singing in the school choir," he said, adding it didn't phase him to walk into a hall full of women. "I really enjoy it. It's a very social thing to do."

Besides the weekly rehearsals, the choir performs during the year too, at charity events and even flash mobs.

They hope to be singing at the Christmas lights switch on in York in November, and will be learning lots of Christmas songs soon. Being a pop choir, these won't be just carols, says Lucy, who adds they will learn a jazzy version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer as well as a few new ones yet to be revealed.

With eight choirs running weekly – some managed on a franchise-like basis by friends and family – Lucy has more than 300 members signed up and paying around £7 a week to take part (paying in termly blocks).

It's turned into quite an enterprise and a step change from the beginning when Lucy cajoled a few friends to start a pop choir.

"I had looked around in York but couldn't find a choir that did pop songs. I wanted something pretty casual and to sing songs from the charts. So I decided to start a pop choir and forced some of my friends to come along. People really liked it, they started bringing their friends, and I started charging money."

Reflecting on how it has grown from just 15 of them at the start, Lucy says the success lies with the informality of the venture.

"It's partly because we are quite casual in the way we run it and not too precious. Some choirs are very formal and have competitions. We do have performances, but it's more like busking where we raise money for charity.

"Also, there's not too much pressure on people. They come along for a bit of fun, to have a laugh and be sociable."

The age range of members is diverse – from early 20s through to retired, with the majority in their 30s and 40s, says Lucy.

There are no auditions and no-one has to be able to read music to join.

What if someone is tone deaf?

Lucy says everyone can sing – and if someone is really off key, she can help out – she is a qualified singing teacher and offers private lessons at £50 an hour.

"I've had people come in who can't sing a note in tune, and now they can."