It wasn’t something any of us planned and yet we’ve managed to make it work! In the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to move my community choir to a paid online membership group via Facebook, I’ve met with my smaller choir via zoom and I’ve gone back to my roots teaching primary school music lessons for free on Facebook. Let’s start with that.
Soooooo many parents paled at the though of ‘homeschooling’. Of course, we aren’t expected to deliver the curriculum in the same way that teachers do and in fact, realistically, children don’t need the full six hours of input! It’s exhausting for them and for the parents. My children are 8 and 5 and we have around 2 hours of learning a day split between the hours of 9-3pm and this includes learning music, art and PE (with Joe Wicks). We are also learning how to do housework!
I thought it might be helpful to start a free resource of primary music lessons. I was a primary music teacher up until just 3 years ago and wrote a whole curriculum plan for the whole school (nursery- Year 6) so I still have the ideas and plans available. And so ‘The Little Liberty Singers’ was born.
I shared the news amongst many my online groups and quickly had over 500 people in the group ready for our first day on Monday 23rd April.
What I’ve really enjoyed about this group is the contact with children. Many of these children are local and I know their mummies, lots of them are from the primary school I used to teach at in Beckeneham, Kent, so I know them and their mummies too! People are sharing their work, their drawings, their thoughts and their feelings and every day I look forward to seeing them! Parents have said it’s great and that it gives them just 20 minutes off from the pressure of ‘homeschooling’. The children have been singing the songs I’ve taught and sharing them together. I love it! I’ve shared the resources and lesson plans with other teachers and have even considered returning to education to deliver inset training.
My next challenge was to host my current community choir online. I ran a ‘test session’ on my free Facebook group ‘The West Bridgford Liberty Singers’ to show singers how it would work. Whist everyone can see and hear me, they can neither see or hear each other, nor can I see or hear them. Luckily, I’ve been recording rehearsals and so I have nearly every song readily recorded and this is what we sing along to! I teach the harmonies, I chat to my singers and then they sing together. At first, people joined in and sent text messages via the Facebook live system to me, but then they started chatting to each other – the connections were all still there!
Keeping the community together at this time is ESSENTIAL. Our singers have created friendships and laughter and I cannot let this end, especially now. I was delighted that 80 people signed up to the paid membership (over 4000 viewed this particular video!) And so the ‘Online Liberty Singers’ was born. We are getting together online every Monday night at 7.30pm and are preparing to start learning some new songs in the next couple of weeks.
The West Bridgford Liberty Singers should’ve been singing on Monday 30th at Portello Lounge as one of our gigs. I was really disappointed to miss this and felt that something needed to be there in its place. Luckily, Richard had recorded the previous Portello gig last November and so I hosted ‘Porthouse Lounge’ gig form my living room giving us all the chance to sing along with recordings of ourselves. One singer said it was the best night out she’s had n weeks!
And finally, the Liberty Chorus who usually meet in Abi’s hair salon (Beehive Hair Design) met via zoom to sing some of our old favourite songs! I’ve been loving zoom, as I can see my singers, but we have to mute all of their mics in order to sing together as there’s a delay in the sound which means nobody is in time with anyone else! We chatted and laughed, sang a bit, then chatted again, laughed a bit more and so on. This format worked really well for this smaller group and I had Vicky to help with the technical side of things. The fact that everyone WANTS to carry on means a lot to all of us. Here we are giving ourselves a well deserved round of applause!
It’s not the same as meeting face to face, it really isn’t. But it’s the next best thing and it’s all we’ve got at the moment. I’ve got some plots and plans for the future to move all of this forward and with my singers along for the ride, I’m confident this will work.
For now, I’m planning another ‘live gig’ to celebrate the 2nd year anniversary for our first ever gig as a community choir…. watch this space!