Learning in Lockdown

By John Stephenson

Our last rehearsal “in the flesh” was on 12th March. A few days later the government announced that everyone must begin social distancing, avoiding contact with others as much as possible, so we suspended normal rehearsals with immediate effect.

It was a blow to us all. We would miss not only our rehearsals, but also the fellowship in the pub afterwards and the extra weekly practices that some sections held in each other’s houses.

When they realised that the lockdown was going to last a considerable time, our Leadership Team began to look for ways to keep in contact, supporting each other and hopefully continuing to sing, so that we wouldn’t lose all the progress that we had been making over the previous months. They set up videoconferencing sessions on our usual rehearsal night during which Victoria, our Musical Director, introduced a new piece of music for us to learn from scratch, although it’s not possible for us all to have our microphones switched on while we sing because of the time lag. For part of the rehearsal each section is put into its own “breakout room” to learn their line and to maintain the bond that they have developed within their section.

Victoria has also led sessions in which she has focused on the wider background of certain pieces, so that we gain a deeper insight and be able to perform them with more feeling and understanding in the future. In other sessions she has begun to teach us about preparing for a performance and some musical theory to help improve our sight-reading. At the end of the rehearsal we have some social time, when we can exchange news, maintain our relationships and have a much-needed laugh.We would rather be meeting in person, of course, but by the end of the lockdown we will have learnt a lot that will help us to perform better and with a deeper understanding of what we are singing.

One of our on-line rehearsals