CHARITY Today has been really moved by videos of the Singing for Everyone Group joining together on Zoom to continue making music throughout the pandemic.
It’s lovely to see that they’re able to support each other as a group, and also to see a real burst of musical talent as they grow in confidence. To celebrate their achievements, we caught up with choir leader Sarah Summers.
Sarah, who grew up with music from an early age, is professionally trained with a degree in music and education. In her early career, Sarah managed a nursery, before deciding to share her love of music as a piano teacher. However, it wasn’t until later that she discovered a love for singing in, and leading community choirs.
“I’ve always sung in choirs, you have to when you’re studying music,” she explained, “but it was very classical, and it didn’t motivate me. When my children were older, I joined Swindon Big Sing Thing and then The Noteables. It really ignited something for me.”
The Singing for Everyone Choir at Swindon Carers Centre was the first community choir Sarah took over, alongside a choir for home educated children in the town. This was 21 months ago after former choir leader Abby passed on leadership of the group to Sarah. Today, members continue to meet every week rain or shine – pandemic or no pandemic – to enjoy making music together and learn how to develop their vocal talents.
“We’ve still been meeting during Covid-19 on Zoom,” Sarah said. “We are a smaller group, but we’ve still managed to learn a few new songs. I’ve started themed weeks to have a bit of fun. One time it was songs from shows, and I’ve also started doing a singalong at the end. They are just such a lovely supportive bunch of people; you can tell they are all there for each other. Even though the singing is not the same on Zoom, people get so much out of seeing each other.”
Over the past few years, the Singing for Everyone Choir has taken to the stage (or the streets) at many local events, including Wroughton Carnival and Sing Out the Summer. They’ve also sung at Christmas concerts and visited to sing in local care homes. A real highlight for the choir was a performance at a charity event in Devizes a year ago.
“We only had the opportunity to sing the one song. We choose ‘Don’t worry about me’, which has become a signature song for the choir,” said Sarah. “It’s a very emotive song which the choir always sing beautifully. At this particular event, we returned to our chairs after singing and there were people with tears in their eyes, commenting on how lovely it was (which, in turn, bought tears to a couple of the choir members). I could not possibly have been prouder of the choir and their achievement.”
Space is available for new members to join the Singing for Everyone choir, with no previous experience needed. During weekly sessions, you will have the chance to practice your singing aided by breathing and meditation techniques in a class just for carers.
“I want people to know that you don’t have to be a singer to learn,” Sarah told us. “You don’t need to have any training to give it a go. One of the best things about leading the choir is seeing people able to do things they didn’t think they could. Everything they do, they seem to do with more confidence and grow in strength. Sometimes they don’t realise how good they are.
“Singing is great for mental health, but I know a couple of our members have commented on how the breathing exercises have helped their overall health as well. It doesn’t matter what kind of a day you’ve had, you sing, and the world has been put to rights. Part of that is singing, and part of that is singing in a group. When you sing together it brings you together, it bonds you.”
To find out about joining the choir email firstname.lastname@example.org.