It does seem a bonkers idea to have launched an organisation that promotes community choirs and the benefits of group singing at a time where singing itself is considered one of the most dangerous activities you can do! Despite this, myself and some like minded choir leaders felt the timing was perfect.
Singing has - and always will be - one of the most amazing things we can do as humans, both as individuals and as groups. Even if you don’t think you have a very good voice, there’s something magical about singing with other people that can make you forget yourself for a minute. Humans love to sing - it’s one of the most fundamental parts of our being and an amazing way to express ourselves and our emotions, when conventional ways just aren’t enough. And, the really exciting bit is that research is slowly proving everything we feel but can’t explain about what singing together is like.
When the UK went into lockdown on 23rd March 2020, I still remember the conversations that we had about how it was only going to last a few weeks. How wrong we were. Nearly 18 months on and we’re still slowly trying to wade our way through sets of inexplicably vague Government guidelines, adapt to ever changing regulations, and consider what happens next with singing.
During that time though, the world has innovated. We found ways of connecting online, and we found out the limitations of technology. Virtual choirs have been an amazing experience for many people: connecting those who were already ‘locked out’ before we all got locked in. It meant we didn’t have to travel to rehearsals, and that we could passively take part in our pjs from our sofas, connecting with like-minded individuals from all over the globe. And for many, the experience was just the opposite: I’ve spoken to so many people who have hated the process of rehearsing virtually, for all sorts of reasons: including hating their own voice, feeling self-conscious on camera, and simply lacking the technology and expertise to make it work.
Back in the summer of 2020, after a few months of living through endless virtual choir rehearsals and a pretty turbulent time on furlough, it became clear that more than ever, people were going to need real life choirs when all this was over. Having lots of time to think meant I looked back over my choir leading career and I could see the traps that choirs and their affiliate organisations fall into time and time again… warring committees, silo-funding, cliques, oppressive processes… the list was endless. Plus, seeing choirs crumble everywhere during the pandemic, it was clear to me that the industry needed to change to provide a more sustainable and community focussed approach to bringing them back. It’s our turn to innovate.
Choirs For Good was set up with this as one of its core objectives, because we believe a successful community choir has a simple equation: people want to feel good through singing, and when they feel good, they’ll do good things. And if you’re feeling good and doing good, then let’s see if we can do that for good: for life.