£price - pay what you feel you can*
The Covid-19 pandemic has been a difficult and quite lonely time for many of us. We've missed spending time with our loved ones and neighbours, and some of us have got quite used to keeping our distance and avoiding contact with one another. So how can we build our confidence and enjoy getting together again and have fun?
The Shildon Heritage Alliance (the team behind Save Our Stute) has come up with something that might just be part of the answer. We want to invite you to be part of a new community singing group, taking place safely every Friday..
The Shildon Institute Singers is open to anyone who enjoys singing. Young people from eleven years old are welcome, though we ask that those under 16 are accompanied by an adult.
The singing will be led by enthusiastic and experienced singer and music coach, Rosie Bradford of Happy in Harmony Music. Some of you might know Rosie from her participation, alongside a number of Shildon residents, in the community opera “Song of Our Heartland” which was performed and filmed at Locomotion last year in partnership with Opera North and Northern Heartlands.
"I'm really excited to be coming back to bring some more singing to Shildon. Everyone is so friendly and I think the Stute is a fantastic place. My Grandad worked on the railways and the industrial heritage of the area is very close to my heart."
As to what songs and types of music the group will sing, this is something that singers taking part will help to decide, and there will be a ‘suggestion box’ where any song ideas can be put forward.
Dave Reynolds, leading on the idea, said, “Ultimately, we just want this to be something people will really enjoy doing together and that will bring some much needed joy back to socially mixing again. That’s very important to us.
"Shildon has a deep tradition of community music and singing groups extending back generations and it’s been something that has always helped bring people together through thick and thin. The Stute is a perfect hub for a safe singing group as it has large spaces indoors and out so we can space out come rain or shine.”
“Rosie is the perfect person to lead and coach our singing. We’ve discussed what we wanted to do with her in depth and she really believes in our hopes for this. She’s so friendly with folk and her love of what she does with singing groups shines through when you talk to her. We think Shildon folk who don’t already know her will really take her to their hearts.”
Everyone who wants to take part will be able to do so, as the group will be run on a ‘pay-as-you-feel’ donation basis. It really is a group for everyone in our community, and we hope it will bring people of all ages and walks of life together.
The group is planning to start on Friday 25 June when the Covid-19 restrictions are further relaxed and many people will have received their first vaccine, and will be every Friday evening after that. We'll make a further announcement about this nearer the time.
If you'd like to take part, all you’ll need will be yourself and your voice - you don’t need any equipment, and you don’t need to be able to read music. There are no auditions and the main purpose of the group is to have fun, so even if you think you think your voice is less than perfect you are very welcome and Rosie will give you lots of friendly help.
This is the perfect opportunity to start each weekend on ‘the right note’, having fun with friends old and new in a relaxed and supportive environment.
You can find out more about Rosie, watch the community opera, and connect on social media to ask any singing questions you'd like to at www.happyinharmonymusic.co.uk
Q: What will it cost me?
A: *We wanted to get a great singing coach in, who knows what they are doing and will help us all to sound great. Rosie is a professional musician who needs to be paid for her time and the energy she puts into the choir. Equally though we don't want anyone to feel excluded through not being able to afford this - we want this group to be there for you. So, we're piloting a 'pay-as-you-feel' model where if you are able to make a contribution to the coaching then that will be most welcome.
Q: Do I have to be a member of the Institute to come and sing?
A: No - you don't have to, but it would be great if you would consider becoming a member. It only costs £5 per year and becoming a member helps to secure the future of the Railway Institute for the next generation.
Q: I have a disability, can I take part?
A: Yes, the choir is open to everyone. If you have, for example a mobility impairment then most of the time, we will meet in a wheelchair accessible room. You can contact us in advance to advise us of any specific impairment requirements and additional needs and we'll be happy to do our best to help you.
Q: If I come, do I have to come every week?
A: No - again it would be great if you did, but life is full of surprises and twists and turns and we know that not everyone will be available every weekend. The main thing we want is for you to have fun when you do come.
Q: I've never really tried singing like this - what if I'm really bad at it?
A: One of the reasons we chose Rosie to be our coach is that she's someone who can find your voice, and we all have one. We sometimes just need help to find it - and when you do and you're playing your part with all the other voices - then together we'll sound great.
Q: What would we be singing? I'm not really one for fancy opera, or religious hymns?
A: We'd like the group to help choose the songs to sing - we'll do this with a suggestion box and have slips where you can write down your ideas and Rosie can prepare something for future sessions based upon the suggestions. We'll try to keep it so there's something for everyone - and there probably won't be anything as complicated as opera. Though one day we might write a song or two of our own if you have any ideas.
Q: Do I need to have had any singing training or teaching first?
A: No - this is a group for everyone, even if you've never sung a single note before - if you want to do it then "the world is your lobster' as someone once mis-said.
Q: Will we be reading sheet music - that looks hard?
A: Nope - no sheet music here. As long as you can read, or listen to, the words of the song you'll be just fine.
Q: Do I need any special equipment or clothes?
A: Not at all - you just need yourself and your voice. If you're popping in on your way home from work you can come in your work clothes. If you want to be comfortable wear something comfy. If you want to dress up - you're more than welcome. Anything goes.
Q Can I bring or send my kids?
A Children 11 years old and over are very welcome to take part in this fun and inclusive choir. They must be well behaved and accompanied by an adult, though it's not necessary for the adult to sing if you don't want to.