Aspiring Songbird that I am, I immediately signed up for Gareth Malone’s Great British Home Chorus when he launched his new initiative to inspire us all to lighten the load of Lockdown through song.
That was many weeks ago and unfortunately I never actually managed to join in the rehearsals, mainly because they clashed with the Downing Street Press Briefings giving the
latest news on the march of COVID-19 across the country. I would much rather have sung my heart out, but the press briefings came to punctuate our days. Mr B would never miss one and needed me by his side to interpret some of the political waffle.
Watching the three TV programmes featuring members of Gareth’s on-line choir, I reluctantly had to accept that I was no great loss to the British Home Chorus. I loved
the songs and music - the care worker singing to the elderly gent with Parkinson’s and dementia of how she knew him through his photographs had me in floods of tears. I fear, however, that I would have been a tremendous disappointment to choirmaster
Fortunately I have my very own Great British Home Chorus to bolster my spirits in the shape of the Singing for Pleasure Choir which I lead jointly
with my dear friend Sue. These are strange times, indeed, for choirs - swimming pools, nail bars and tattooists may be opening up but it seems that singing in choirs is likely to be in the list of Things Forbidden for the foreseeable future.
Interestingly, one afternoon last week I was involved in a BBC Bitesize lesson with grandson Morgan on the subject of “Why singing makes us feel good.” This started
off well, mostly because I had heard of endorphins and oxytocin which enabled me to comment reasonably knowledgeably on the feelings of pleasure they release. Not that it mattered, because while I was reading this information out loud and interjecting my own
thoughts, teacher-wise, Morgan was already playing the first short video clip of a young opera singer. Unfortunately, while an excellent singer, her choice of song didn’t appear to be releasing any of my grandson’s endorphins - opera, it seems,
is not for him. The next clip fared no better, featuring a folk song which I vaguely knew; Morgan wasn’t impressed.
Then, a video clip which really
engaged him - Morgan with delight, I with horror: it showed in graphic detail how air is taken in, travels around our innards, before being expelled in an explosive vibration of sound. If the scientists who are advising the government happen to tune into BBC
Bitesize Daily Lessons for year 3 (aged 7-8) then there is absolutely no way our choir will ever be allowed to meet again in tuneful harmony.
For the foreseeable
future, it seems, our choir will have to continue meeting virtually for half an hour on a Friday morning. It’s not compulsory but about half of us are now Zooming for Pleasure. What we lack in harmony, we gain in sheer jollity.
Last Friday Jenny who usually hosts our Zoom session was away so it fell to me to gather the troops. This meant sending out a new Meeting ID and password so I wasn’t sure anybody would join me
- but there they all were at 9.45, with a new member or two besides. I should have had more faith in them.
I’d chosen “London Pride” as our song
for the week, without considering that it wasn’t, perhaps, the easiest song in our repertoire. With Gareth’s musical company in the forefront of my mind, I suggested we all mute ourselves except for our pianist and sing along to her music. It worked,
I suppose, but to be honest everyone said it wasn’t half as much fun as when we all sang together, so we had to sing A Handful of Songs all together in glorious disharmony before, one by one, everyone waved goodbye and “left the meeting”
(in Zoom parlance). Roland suggested, sensibly, that we sing “Catch a Falling Star” next week, being a somewhat simpler melody to master for 25 separate voices, all on different broadband speeds, attempting to sing in tune and in time with each
Mary said (as she does every week with totally misplaced confidence) that “we really are getting better.” I call it the triumph of hope over
Eat your heart out, Gareth Malone, we may not sing in anything like unison - but even your (truly amazing) Great British Home Chorus couldn’t
beat us for sunny optimism...