During the Pandemic and like so many choirs, we have been faced with some difficult decisions. Should we close down all activity, uncertain when we could resume singing again but save on costs or try to carry on via Zoom? How many would turn up with all the issues around the technology and having to learn a new way of practising? Well we took the risk, carried on, kept in touch with each other, and even learnt new skills! Was it a success? Read the very personal account from one of our principal members:
A Virtual Choir Rehearsal— A personal view JohnC It’s Thursday evening, and a small band of blokes is getting ready for the weekly on-line choir rehearsal at 7.30pm. It’s a routine most of us have got used to, like many choirs in the country, after initially wondering how or whether we’d be able to survive as a male voice choir in lockdown. Well of course we have, though early last year there was no way of knowing we would. So I run through my mental checklist as I sit down in front of my screen, and look forward to seeing familiar faces again. Did I remember to put Peter’s e-mail with the Zoom link into my Task List? If not, where the hell is it amongst the mass of others? Did I spend some time during the past week practising the pieces Kent told us to, or at least the ones I realised at the last rehearsal I didn’t know quite as well as I thought? Have I got tonight’s music out? And most importantly, have I filled my water bottle and shall I have a glass of whisky & water with it? As I click on the link, I wonder how many faces we’ll see tonight. NickW & PeterC are always the earliest to appear. The checking in process is fun & reassuring, and punctuated by laughter and giggles. As we get ourselves switched on to video and audio, someone’s camera is not correctly angled and we see only the top of a head, or nothing but an entire ceiling. Volume levels are adjusted and speakers and headphones checked. Peter E’s voice is always loud and clear, and we are used to NickJ being labelled as Margaret. Humphrey usually has something funny to say while we chat, and more faces appear. Andy, one of our keenest evangelists, gives us an update on his efforts to get anyone he meets to try us out. He’s a great proselytiser and we should all copy him because we need to grow the choir. Adam our Accompanist and Kent our MD join us, a Committee member brings us to order and makes any announcements. Then we are off. Kent warms us up gently to start, with mouth and voice exercises and hand signal note practice, then it’s the full Donna Nobis Pacem watching his hands for the pace and intensity leads. Some, especially new boys Martin & Brent, may be asked to sing on their own and be given feedback from Kent. Then we work on the music he has selected, nearly all classic pieces with great music and harmonies. Bridge Over Troubled Water, Deus Salutis, Music of the Night, Speed Your Journey. Each section is taken through parts of the score, and individuals may get asked to sing alone while the rest of the choir listens. It can be challenging, but it’s always rewarding and Kent’s feedback skilfully pitched at the level of experience and ability of the singer. It’s always encouraging. Then we’ll sing pieces all the way through, and before we know it the 90 minutes are up. Goodbyes are said, hands are waved, and faces disappear from my screen, leaving a few who don’t want to finish and stay chatting. I leave with music in my head and friends’ faces in my mind's eye.