When we heard the news that the UK would be going into lockdown as a result of the spread of Coronavirus, all of us Singing Mamas Choir Leaders were concerned. How would we keep our groups together? How would we keep song in our lives? How could we support our communities and our own businesses to stay connected and thrive during this unprecedented time?
Within 48 hours over the weekend of 21st march 2020 Songline was birthed. It’s hard to look back now and remember the fear, the panic, the unknown. Being forced to stay at home and isolate ourselves from all of the things we rely on for our wellbeing was an overwhelming idea.
We decided that if we offered three 30 minute online singing sessions through zoom (and live stream to facebook) per week, with a different guest leader each time, then we could encourage all of our members from across the country to join in. It would give a chance for each of our own Singing Mamas Choir Leaders to share a song, we could also invite other well known choir leaders and composers whose work we enjoy singing in our groups to share a song.
What we decided we needed was a host to carry the leader and the audience through each session. Until the night before the first session Kate Valentine had said she’d play host….. But didn’t seem so confident at the thought of speaking to the masses! I was shying away from it, but had this feeling in the pit of my belly that I should step up. I DO have the skills and experience to host a session, but it was still a daunting prospect! I pulled myself together and told Kate I’d do it. The relief in Kate’s voice over the phone was palpable!
The first Songline session was a triumph. The first month was overwhelmingly surreal, humbling and fabulous all at the same time. Three months later and Songline had firmly established itself in hundreds of peoples’ diaries, all across the world! It was the anchor holding us all down.
A short, sharp 30 minutes and there you go… another new song in your pocket to carry with you through these turbulent times. Songs of strength, of hope, of solidarity, of acceptance, of joy - the songs were the waves that carried us through, and the faces on the screen we could see singing these songs together created the ocean, in which we were all one and the same.
Not only that, but those times proved creative and fruitful - many songs bubbled up and came into being as a reaction to the situation we found ourselves in. It was special; so very special.
Over the course of those few months I felt like I had gained a new family. Three times a week I would interact with our singers - even through a screen, across counties and countries, our bonds were forming. I would think about them throughout the week: ‘I wonder how Hilary’s Grandchildren are?’, ‘I love watching Patsy’s dancing’.... I became attached and as Songline came to an end I realised that this space, these songs, this connection had been a vital aspect of my own journey; it gave me structure, it gave me faces and energy, it gifted me with many songs - I felt nourished, uplifted and valuable.
The comments we received from so many people echo my own feelings; so heartwarming, and only served to further enhance and solidify our Singing Mamas Choir mission: to bring song into hearts and homes.
Check out our session with Susie Ro Prater here: