The community choir run in the New Room in Bristol, also known as John Wesley’s Chapel, has resumed its normal Wednesday lunchtime slot, meeting online in order to achieve the safest possible operation.
While coronavirus put a halt to activity for many community choirs because of the possibility of aerosol transmission linked to singing in indoor spaces, the New Room community choir started singing together on Zoom during lockdown and members are finding this an acceptable alternative to meeting in person, given current social restrictions.
New members welcome
Choir leaders Meg Brand and Judit Soler-Almendros, both trained music therapists, are especially hoping to reach out to people who are currently unable to access their usual community choir, and welcome all new members whether experienced or not.
Meg Brand says: “The outbreak of coronavirus has had such a significant impact on choirs in Bristol and all over the world, and we know that there are many people out there who are really missing meeting up for their regular group singing session.
“We’re encouraging anyone who thinks they might like to join us to get in touch, give it a go and see if they enjoy it. We sing a wide range of music from folk and world music to pop songs and show tunes, and are open to requests for members’ favourite songs. Experienced singers are welcome, but it doesn’t matter if you’ve never sung before. No auditions, no need to read music – everyone is welcome.”
Judit Soler-Almendros adds: “There is strong evidence that taking part in group singing generates an improvement in people’s sense of wellbeing. It’s fun, uplifting and is also a mindful activity that engages the whole body, demanding your full concentration and giving you a break from other, maybe less welcome, preoccupations.
“One of our choir members has told us their Zoom choir sessions are the highlight of their week, and others have said they always leave our sessions feeling more hopeful and uplifted, that singing with the choir raises their spirits, and that they’ve enjoyed making new friends.”
The New Room Community Choir was established in 2017 with Heritage Lottery funding as part of a new programme of activities which accompanied the opening of the New Room’s state-of-the-art visitor centre, and it received a further £900 grant from Arts Council England this year to enable it to expand its community outreach and offer opportunities to improve wellbeing for new audiences in central Bristol.
The choir meets to sing for an hour online using Zoom at 12noon every Wednesday lunchtime during term-time. Potential new members can book a free taster session by contacting Meg and Judit at firstname.lastname@example.org
Membership costs are just £3 per rehearsal, with all fees going to support the work of the choir. Further details on the New Room website at newroombristol.org.uk/communitychoir