Discord choir master and composer Michael Dann’s passion for music helps others

Michael Dann. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Michael Dann. Picture: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant

He has started his own successful choir, raised money for charity through involvement with musical events and has led singing groups. Rebecca Murphy talks to choirmaster and composer Michael Dann about his life in music.

Michael Dann, of Scole, near Diss, with the Wattisham Military Wives Choir. By Angela Sharpe

Michael Dann, of Scole, near Diss, with the Wattisham Military Wives Choir. By Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant

Born to what he calls a 'non-musical' family in Pulham Market, near Diss, Michael Dann began playing the piano as a six-year-old.

Having been bought a piano by his parents he went to his first lesson at seven – and it would be the last.

'All she [the piano teacher] wanted me to do was play a few notes up and down the keyboard,' he said. 'In my head I could already play because I could play Chopsticks. From then I was self-taught.'

In fact, despite his successful career – which has seen him start the popular Discord choir – the 52-year-old has never had professional training.

Michael Dann and the Discord choir. Picture: Angela Sharpe

Michael Dann and the Discord choir. Picture: Angela Sharpe - Credit: Archant

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After leaving what is now Archbishop Sancroft High School in Harleston he sold keyboards and helped to teach music at a primary school.

In 2011 he was inspired to start his own singing group and Discord was born.

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The much-loved singing group –which is aimed at adults who love singing but do not want the pressure of performing in a professional choir – now has six sessions a week across south Norfolk, 300 members, and a waiting list.

Mr Dann said: 'I had read about a choir in the north of the country and it seemed like a good idea and I had done some musical direction.

'It began at the Methodist church in Diss and it has grown ever since.

'There is something quite special about it. It is about the wellbeing they [the members] get from singing and the health benefits. The humbling thing is the support the choir has given to members.'

In addition to playing at care homes and annual events, the choir helps to raise money for charity through special shows.

East Anglia's Children's Hospices, the East Anglian Air Ambulance, Nelson's Journey and Great Ormond Street Hospital in London are some of the many organisations which have benefited from the £23,000 raised over the past five years.

Mr Dann, a fan of musicals, who lives in Gislingham, near Eye, said: 'In my opinion if people are getting wellbeing from the choir we should be giving something back.

'It is a chance for the members to show off what they have to family and friends and to help raise money.'

Mr Dann spent a year as the choirmaster and musical director of the Wattisham Military Wives Choir which saw them perform at the Queen's jubilee celebrations, launch the 2012 Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal in Trafalgar Square and feature on the Military Wives Choir's album.

'It was great fun and hard work,' said Mr Dann. 'It was really good and I met some lovely people and I still have some really good friends in the choir. But Discord was just getting bigger and bigger and taking up more time.'

And despite the hard work which comes with being the choirmaster of Discord, Mr Dann said he has no plans on handing over the reins to somebody else.

He added: 'Music is my sanctuary. It doesn't matter what I listen to. I just don't know what I would do without it. It has already been there.'

For more information about Discord visit http://www.michaeldann.co.uk/

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