Sunday 30 August 2020

You can't teach an old dog new tricks....or can you?

So, a LOT has happened since I last wrote. Pretty much all of it beyond my control. It may surprise you to know I am unable to cure Covid-19, I wish I could, but was never my bag at school so curing a global pandemic would not be listed as one of my skills on my CV. I am, however, considering myself to be a professional tea drinker now. Has anyone else found themselves drowning in tea?

I must say the Lockdown that was imposed upon us in the UK has not been all bad for me. It began with me being ill for the first 2 weeks so that wasn't great. I quite possibly had Covid-19 but I didn't get a test so I don't know for sure. However, I didn't leave my flat for 14 days just in case. That was the worst bit I'd say. 

Once I had recovered, I then had to set about fathoming the online meeting platform that is Zoom in order to run singing lessons and my choir online as well as doing a few bits and pieces for myself. In an effort to keep the kids I teach interested in singing whilst on Zoom, I taught myself how to produce virtual choir videos. I am in no way a master of this but it is a new skill and one I would not have acquired were it not for Lockdown. My video editing skills have gone from very basic to just above basic. I feel like I actually have a hobby now! I don't have a garden, I don't have a great kitchen and though I had intended to read every book on singing going, I didn't. I have attended countless webinars and talks on singing but I am finding concentrating on actual reading to be very difficult right now so the video editing thing became a bit of an obsession. Other ways I have kept busy is by watching old Eurovision Song Contests with friends over Zoom and many, many online quizzes. I thoroughly recommend Steve M's Sunday Lockdown Quiz on Facebook (it will be online for a while yet so have a go).

My choir, Songsations, also moved online and I produced 4 virtual choir videos for them too. I have loved working with the choir online and many members of the choir have also enjoyed it. I think it was a bit of a lifeline for some of them. It definitely was for me. The online thing is something I'm going to continue in some capacity for both the choirs and one to one singing lessons. Online meeting platforms are essentially now the norm and will remain part of our lives long after we emerge from this, of that I am sure.

Although I saw my income drop by almost exactly 50% I am definitely one of the lucky ones. I have managed to keep my business going and been able to pay my rent. I know many people who have struggled. We have all been forced to think outside the box and find new ways to make a living. 

So, at the time of writing, August 2020, we are starting to return to our places of work and this adds a new level of pressure. Guidelines for singing, and whether it is safe to do so in the presence of other people, have been released and the consensus seems to be that one to one singing lessons can start again if you can deliver these lessons in a large well ventilated space. My second floor flat no longer cuts it, I fear, and I need to find somewhere else to teach. My downstairs neighbour will be thrilled about that. The hall where I run my choir is, fingers crossed, going to be the place for this from now on. We have to wear face coverings in this hall at the moment but I feel it's worth a go if it means I can be in the same room as my students.

That said, I am anxious about starting up again. Not because I'm scared but because nobody really knows what is going to happen once everything does open up again. Will we have a second wave, will I have to self-isolate because I was in a CaffĂ© Nero for more than 15 minutes when another punter with Covid was there? Who knows! And that is the worry. This anxiousness is what is stopping me from starting my choir meeting in person right now. Although the "rules" seem to suggest we can start rehearsing together again it just doesn't feel right yet. The research carried out in the Perform study (ParticulatE Respiratory Matter to InForm Guidance for the Safe Distancing of PerfOrmeRs in a COVID-19 PandeMic - catchy) has concluded that singing is no more dangerous than speaking, however, it all comes down to volume. The louder we sing/speak the more aerosols and droplets are emitted. With that in mind I have taken the decision to keep the choir online for the foreseeable. The problem with this is about half of the members of my 2 choirs haven't tried a Zoom session and don't really want to start now, which is a shame, but an understandable one. It's not the same and, to be fair, some people just aren't able to join us online so this is in no way a criticism, just an observation. I may write another post about this, although, as I intimated at the beginning of this post, I am not a scientist.

So that's a quick overview of my choir and teaching shenanigans but what of my own singing? Well I was inspired for the first 3 months of Lockdown and then something happened that left me unable to sing at the flat anymore so I've taken a few steps backwards recently. I did manage to book a room in which to do some singing and record some new songs for the choir a couple of weeks ago. I had the whole place to myself and those 3 hours spent singing properly and fully were the best 3 hours I'd had since March. I even managed to record a video, to be included in my choirs "End Of Term" online concert, of me singing an actual song. I have the room booked to do more next week and I can not wait. 

So there we have it, in a nutshell. There is so much more to discuss but as I haven't posted since February you may well have collapsed due to the shock of me producing something for you to read. I'm quite disappointed in myself that I have had since March 23rd to write something for you and it has taken me until August 30th to actually post something. So as a little extra gift, from me to you, I thought I would share my little video with you here. Excuse my unbrushed hair and the fact I couldn't remember the words so had them up on my phone. To be fair it's a miracle I'm sharing anything right now!

PS The title of this post may seem a little familiar. It did to me. So I trawled my previous posts and found I had used a similar title before. I'm not going to change this posts title as I can't think of another but if you fancy reading the other post you'll find it here. Enjoy.

If you’re having trouble opening the video click here

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