How are you doing?
Hello singers! How are you doing? It’s been such a looooong hard time for many people but things seem to be getting better.Here’s a video of my Wrexham choir singing ‘Better Times will come’ by Janis Ian – we recorded outdoors last December.
I’m reeling from the latest sudden about turn announcements from DCMS meaning that choir regs are now stricter than they were in the Autumn when rates were high and there were no vaccines.. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-57240510 Most Choir leader’s carefully laid plans (track and trace, covid safety agreements, Risk assessments etc all in place) have had to be scrapped and I’ve had to burn the midnight oil contacting everyone, finding outdoor venues, cancelling indoor ones etc. Anyway, am all set for the summer term now, meeting everyone outdoors and watching the weather! And breeeeeathe
Last Autumn/winter singing outdoors became challenging as the weather worsened . I always find a sheltered spot for the choir, but it’s less easy for me to be dry. So my solution was to try and find some sort of outdoor see through tent/ greenhouse for me to keep my zoom equipment dry (I always broadcast a live zoom to those at home) I looked and looked – little was I to know what I was looking for is called an ‘All weather soccer mom pod’! Of course it is!
It pops up but does NOT pop down and will never see the inside of its bag again! And a warning about leading singing on zoom after dark -this is what happens
My focus in 2021 has been on keeping my 5 lovely choir communities going weekly on zoom. We’ve been busy doing various recording projects to keep us entertained and creative over lockdown. As a composer I’m used to multi-tracking on my Cubase software which has been very handy for these times. Choir members send in their recordings on their phone sung to a backing track I make, and I edit all their voices together into one track.
A laborious process but worth doing I reckon!
I composed some music for a very moving poem by Evrah Rose , sung and spoken by my Wrexham Community choir –https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ep6sAuSW3HY
And here is Helen Yeoman’s ‘Love is the Power’ sung by my Calder Valley Voices.
From now, things can only get better with the weather! Here’s some of my current outdoor singing spots
A covered car park in Hebden Bridge – not very glam but excellent acoustics . And My ‘Open Voice Community Choir ‘ in Alexandra Park, M/cr – I laid out lots of flower pots to measure the 2m!
Sun and Moon Festival
Yes, Sun Moon festival is happening and I’ll be leading the singing there.! 25th August – 1st September in Surrey. (Unless things take a sudden turn for the worse of course)
I will see how things are and may sing outdoors, rather than in the big hall, but it will be socially distanced and covid safe as all my singing has been in these strange times.
More info and booking here
I’m not planning any other singing workshops for the time being until things settle down. But please do get in touch if you’d like to set one up in the future.
Keep in touch with any thoughts, suggestions – can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org
I cannot wait till we can meet again in person. Meanwhile – KEEP SINGING, however you can!
All those lovely endorphins, seratonin, oxytocin are made when we sing and they are scientifically proven to lift our mood.
Lots of Love to all, Carol X
Well goodness me, it’s been 6 months exactly since I wrote a newsletter.What a roller-coaster ride it’s been since then for most of us..
I have been meaning to write, but have been almost overwhelmed by the amount of work I’ve had to do to keep my 5 weekly choirs going.
After a scary and challenging week of learning new technical things my 5 choirs went on zoom from April until July, broadcast from my home studio. Zoom is of course highly limiting as the huge and varied time delay in voices getting relayed back means that we cannot actually sing together – it’s chaos! People are put on ‘mute’ after we’ve warmed up and had a chat and start singing. So it’s basically choir members duetting to sing-a-longa Carol on the piano…
Many people cannot get along with Zoom and I can totally understand why! Singing together creates a lovely entrainment, where we are like one organism, a shoal of fish, a flock of birds, all moving vocally instinctively together, and I have missed that so much. BUT, Zoom is so much better than nothing and it’s very important to somehow keep choir communities together in these times
5 choirs a week on zoom for 4 months meant that strangely I developed a bit of an aversion to my computer (we’ve all been there!) and I just wanted to be outdoors as much as possible – I invested in a gazebo and did some intensive gardening.
Sadly, I lost my dad in May (to dementia) and me and mum took his ashes to his ‘motherland’, Aberdeenshire .We then headed up to Findhorn – the fabulous foundation was closed but the sea wasn’t!
Rules at the end of August meant that choirs could finally meet if socially distanced, risk assessed and track and traceable (both indoor and outdoor).And choirs have been split between shielders and non-shielders, zoomers and non-zoomers, so I had the idea to try and unite everybody as much as possible. So for the last 3 weeks I’ve been meeting with some choirs outdoors – with those in the choir who feel safe to do so AND broadcasting a live outdoor zoom on my iPad to those who feel happier at home. NO pressure on anyone to do anything and no judgement either way. The zoomers report that it’s much much better as they can hear the harmonies of the rest of the choir and can chat and wave and feel part of a real choir meeting. We’ve all been bringing wooden spoons with us! With arms extended and holding them we are 2 and a half metres apart.
But the recent changing of the rules and confusing contradictions over the last 3 weeks has been hugely challenging. Like many of us, we’ve not known from one week, or day, to the next what is allowed and I have had to learn the really big lesson of living comfortably with uncertainty. I’ve not been successful on many days, I can tell you!
I’ve had this book for years and along with daily Qi Gong, meditation, gardening and walking it has been essential to maintain sanity!
I’ve missed leading the singing at Sun Moon camp and everyone there so very much. Missed doing the singing in Skyros. Missed all my planned workshops and the lovely people who I see there. We ALL miss each other so much!!
So many of us are disappointed, lonely, exasperated, you name it, and now maybe feeling like this will go on for ever… We know it won’t, we know every epidemic has its day then fades away and that this too shall eventually pass.
Keep in touch with any thoughts, suggestions – can email me on email@example.com .
Here’s a short heart warming film about my North West Stroke Survivors choir to warm your cockles.
I cannot wait till we can meet again in person. Meanwhile – KEEP SINGING, however you can! All those lovely endorphins, seratonin, oxytocin etc are proven to really help lift our mood.
Lots of Love, Carol X
Hello lovely singers,
Thought I’d check in, as we’re living in such disorientating times. (What day of the week is it?) I haven’t met with any of my choirs for a week and am missing everyone so much already. I’ll be trialing ZOOM sessions for some of my choirs online next week. Many of us singing leaders are trying it. It is learning to do a new job…
This won’t be a ‘virtual choir’, but a guided singalong really. The varying time delays means that if we hear everyone sing together, it creates an absolute cacophony of chaos! Once we’ve all said hello and warmed up, the mikes will be muted and people will just hear me. We can still see each other’s faces all at once, so that will be very reassuring. My choir members been so generous to me about keeping paying their subs, I need to repay them – us self-employed are all so anxious about how we’ll survive, nothing from the government yet….
Bertolt Brecht wrote “In the dark times will there also be singing? Yes, there will also be singing about the dark times.” Linda Hirschorn has just written this simple harmony for it
Once I’ve got my regular choirs sorted, I could try a Zoom for everyone on my mailing list? What do you think? If you’re interested, download the Zoom software for free. It works on computer, laptop, ipad or phone (phone is least good version) Computer/laptop: https://zoom.us/download
On apple devices (ipad, iphone), search in apps for ‘Zoom cloud meeetings’ and download.
On mobile phone , search in ‘playstore’ for ‘Zoom’.
Most devices will have a built in camera and microphone – my ipad and phone have. There’s a webcam on my computer. Sign up, put in your email address and they’ll send you an account link to follow. I’ll let you know when I’ve set up a meeting for us.
In other news, in the ‘good old days’ of last month, I had a wonderful time with hosting and putting on two workshops and concerts for WINDBORNE from Massachusetts .
Here’s a video of them to cheer us all up! ‘Les Tisserands’ (The weavers)
Stunning arrangement – the end section has wondrous harmonies and syncopation!
Well, please be safe, keep calm, rest if you can, and take care of yourselves, lovely people. Mail me any time. firstname.lastname@example.org
If you want to join my FB group, it’s here
Please share any inspiring videos , music etc and lets keep our collective peckers up! And remember
Sending everyone lots of love, Carol . We shallovercome
I hope 2020 is treating you kindly 🙂 And sorry it’s been so long since I’ve been in touch! This blog’s got upcoming events in, but first, to catch up..
I led 1,000 singers for ‘Wrexham Singing Streets’ in September. We sang ‘Let it Be’ among other massed songs and the sun shone and the wind blew, and I must remember to comb my hair at the back! You can also see the fabulous signing choir wearing black at the front, who signed all the songs that day 🙂
I met some lovely people at ‘From Discord to Harmony’ singing workshops I did in Kent and Accrington in October and I had a wonderful time hosting the fabulous Helen Yeomans in Manchester for a workshop here in November.
December saw my Wrexham One World Community Choir host a fab Xmassy Fundraising evening with the local choir for homeless and marginalised people ‘Wrexham One Love’. We deffo put the FUN into
I wanted to let you know about some very imminent upcoming events you may be interested in.
* Wednesday, 26th Feb: Am thrilled to be hosting ‘WINDBORNE’ again – they are a world class vocal folk quartet from Massachusetts, USA, and are currently touring the UK. They are ‘“A quartet the likes of which I haven’t seen since… Coope, Boyes and Simpson, the Watersons, or The Voice Squad. Just absolutely phenomenal!” -BBC Traveling Folk.
They did a cracking set in Wrexham a couple of weeks ago and are in Manchester on Wednesday Feb 26th. For more info and to book , click here
Their UK schedule is here
Saturday, 29th Feb: I’m doing a ’From Discord to Harmony ‘workshop in Chester , hosted by Ella Speirs. We’ll be singing some beautiful uplifting songs from around the world.To book and for more info click here
* Sunday 15th March: If you’re near the Horwich area I’m doing a ‘From Discord to Harmony’ workshop hosted by Kadenza Women’s choir . We’ll be doing some lovely heart opening songs <3 @ UCAN centre Hatfield Road, Bolton BL1 3BU.
10.30 to 3.30pm. Cost £10 per person and bring your own lunch. Tea and coffee provided.
To book a place contact Julia_simpkins@yahoo.co.uk or call 07966136169
*Saturday 13th June – In Preston, there’s a fabulous event for singers and a chance to raise money for Wateraid at the same time – Sing for Water North. Click here for more info
* 12th -19th August – am leading the daily singing sessions a the fabulous family friendly Sun and Moon Wellness Festival again – yay! One of my favourite weeks of the year. Click here for more info
* 23rd Aug – 4th Sept. Am thrilled to have been asked to lead singing sessions for 2 weeks in Skyros, Greece. A new venture for me! Here’s the link to their summer brochure https://www.skyros.com/skyros-brochure-2020.pdf
More ‘Singing Tribe’ workshop dates to follow. Email me if you’d like a workshop in your area. And remember..
Love to everyone, Carol
Well, I somehow didn’t get round to doing one since April, so welcome to my late summer/Autumn blog!
Am on a high having just had a fabulous week leading the daily singing workshops at the Sun and Moon Festival. Lovely heart opening singing all week with lovely people at a lovely festival and I can’t wait to do it all again next year :
See my Diary (singing workshops and events) page for info about new workshops coming up in Autumn this year 🙂
In April I traveled with my Open Voice Community Choir to Malaga to visit ‘Coral El Castillo’, a Spanish choir, and we did one concert in beautiful sea caves! Here’s the poster.
In May I had a real treat when I sang Taize songs at 8am with a group in this beautiful ‘hobbit house’ in Findhorn . Findhorn is a difficult place to leave – it’s heavenly!
In June, I was on BBC Radio Manchester with Mike Sweeney promoting a fundraising gig at Salford Lads Club with my ‘Rhythm of Life’ Christie and Maggies choir, singing with Rowetta of Happy Monday’s fame.
Rowetta has a BIG voice, a big personality and an even bigger heart – what a charismatic woman! Donated her time to work with us and raise money for the Christie and Salford Lads Club, where we filmed ‘Cold Feet’.
July was when ‘Open Voice’ got together with Boff Whalley’s Commoners choir, 4 other choirs and all sang his specially written song to commemorate 200 years since Peterloo. Boff used to be in Chumbawumba, is a great guy and has written a brilliant song based on the words written on the Skelmanthorpe Flag. We sang it in concert at the People’s History Museum, and around Manchester and the Peterloo Memorial site.
July also brought National Street Choirs to Manchester where over 1,000 voices gathered in song – over 40 community choirs from around the country, busking all round Manchester hosted by Manchester Community Choir – glorious! I was wrangling my 3 community choirs all day and eve then did 2 ‘From Discord to Harmony’ heart opening singing workshops for the Street Fest on the Sunday, so had a rest after that!
Here’s Open Voice busking
Also my Wrexham One World Community Choir did an end of term concert along with a local choir set up for those affected by homelessness and mental health issues -Wrexham One Love Choir. We shared a feast of delicious food then shared a feast of delicious songs, ending the evening singing together and raising the roof and raising £400 for Wrexham Foodbank and UAREUK refugee charity.
Oh, the power of singing together – it breaks down prejudices and creates UNITY!
‘We have more in common than divides us’.
Welcome to my SPRING blog!
Have had a great couple of months. As some of you know, I have had a difficult few years of close bereavement and loss but it now feels like I’ve found my mojo again!
I’m starting’Singing Tribe’events in Manchester – big gatherings of people singing just to be in the moment. No gigs, no performing, just being together singing simple meaningful songs to uplift and soothe.
First one is on Mother’s Day and we’ll be singing lots of mother honouring songs.
Next one will be in a month or so.
I’m also expanding my singing workshops across the country and this year have had a lovely time in February and March doing them in Worcester and Chichester.
Next one set to be in Chester hosted by Caldy Valley Voices on May 4th.
Hoping to be in Bristol in November and wanting to do ones in Norwich and Swansea at some point.
Let me know if you can link me up to organise one near you.
I enjoyed some brief minutes of fame when ‘Cold Feet’ Episodes 5 and 6 hit ITV in Feb! My lovely ‘Rhythm of Life’ Choir did themselves proud J Am so glad they used a REAL choir for cancer patients. I’ve been running that choir for 5 years now and they are an inspirational group of people.
And my ‘Hay ho’ warm ups have now been seen by millions! Video clip here
I’ve also had some great gigs with my choirs including singing with ‘Open Voice’ at Manchester Cathedral for Hate Crime Awareness week, singing at Asylum Seekers fundraiser, and for International Women’s Day event at Theatre Clwyd.
Here’s Wrexham Community Choir in their Suffragette colours.
I do newsletters once every couple of months. If you’re Facebook friendly then you can get more regular news on here by liking my page here.
Well, it does us our hearts good to KEEP SINGING together in these strange times. I have a vision of getting everyone in the Houses of Parliament to sing songs of unity and peace, so that they all might start working TOGETHER!
That’s all for now.
Wishing you much harmony,
Have you been watching the new series? Jen joins a choir, and it was my Rhythm of Life Choir ! We were on in a cameo on Monday 11th Feb and are set to feature on 18th February for the season finale .
Hopefully it’ll spread the message to millions of viewers that singing together is bonding, uplifting and great for body, mind and spirit.
Here’s what Fay Ripley (Jenny) had to say about it….
“I loved the choir experience on Cold Feet so much. My mum went for the first time on Saturday and she absolutely loved it! So she’s started in a choir and I’m chuffed! Honestly filming it was such a lovely and uniting experience. But for me personally it wouldn’t work because I’m a show-off and I’d want to get all the attention! I couldn’t just sing along with everyone else!”Fay Ripley, Yahoo Celebrity UK interview with Laura Hannam
Jenny joins a local choir. Did you get to sing for real?
It is really me singing on screen although I don’t have to sing solo. I’m not surprised choirs are such a big deal now. The whole experience is very uplifting. Especially if you have someone at the helm who is really inspirational.Fay Ripley, British Comedy Guide interview
In September I conducted a huge singing event in Wrexham ‘Singing Streets’ where I led 1,000 singers 🙂
November was busy…
I led the anthems on the pitch for the Wales/ Ireland rugby match with my Wrexham One World Community Choir.
My North West Stroke recovery choir won a national award (Life After Stroke Award) and we went to a posh hotel in London on a coach, drank free champagne and performed to a live streamed red carpet evening full of celebrities. There was Juliette Stevenson, Warren Davies, Rob Bryden, Chico (who had a stroke the month before, loved our choir!) and lot of other celebs who were wasted on me!
We got our award from Baroness Floella Benjamin, Stephanie Beacham and Mark Goodier.
Here’s the write up of the event, and they also made this lovely film about the choir.
Later that week I filmed for BBC Watchdog with my Open Voice choir in Manchester. We filmed for hours singing 7 different songs, all about waiting (It was about energy companies keeping people waiting on the phone).
I composed 7 different ditties, but, we were only on telly for a minute at the most. They say it takes a day of filming to make one minute of television …