Take Note – A Choir in Metamorphosis
Birth of our Choir, in Edinburgh
This is the story of the birth of our Choir in Edinburgh. Ever wondered what happens when a new choir is created? Have a read through our Take Note story, a choir born just before a pandemic or otherwise known as plans of mice and men….
In October, 2019, Take Note was born. Many members came from our previous iteration, Audacity, but with a new Musical Director (Callum Morton Hüseyin) and Committee, as well as a new vision, funky new branding and website! It was an exciting end to 2019 and we were all looking forward to where this new choir would take us in 2020.
However, we all know what happened just as Take Note started to take its first steps as a choir. The impacts of COVID-19 were not yet really understood, and certainly not by a choir in its infancy in Bruntsfield, Edinburgh. We were more interested in learning sight reading, rhythm practice and learning new pieces and already had plans afoot for a performance with a full orchestra in Portugal. We held taster sessions, and started to work towards our first performances, aiming at April and August 2020. Venues were booked, and we were discussing how to attract an audience for each occasion. We were so close! Looking back now, it’s crazy to think how much has changed in the last18 months.
Lockdown #1 – impact, worries and the measures we took
Lockdown took us all by surprise. By 23rd March, the virus had fully taken hold in Scotland and across the UK. There was talk about super spreader events involving choirs. Overall, the music industry took a (and continues to do so) significant hit. With a virus spreading through respiration, suddenly singing and music became dangerous hobbies to have. Our plans, one by one were slowly cancelled, but our faith in Take Note did not. We made it from the birth of our choir in Edinburgh, we were determined to bring the choir back with a bang.
Choirs are passion projects. We don’t participate in rehearsals, home practice and performance for financial gain – we sing for the joy of it. Singing has been shown to improve mental wellbeing, with people acting more positively after a singing session. Singing is good for you! So the loss of being able to rehearse together was profound. So we did something about it. By the next choir rehearsal, we were fully running on a virtual platform…. And we haven’t stopped since then.
We have had bumps along the way – finding the right way to run an online choir rehearsal. Dealing with the mental health impacts of lockdown, furlough. We are also very familiar with what is now a very 2020 phrase: ‘zoom fatigue’. Rumours that the wider music industry was looking at a full shutdown for all of 2020 seemed impossible to believe. We had members take a step back and at times, worried for the future of the choir. We had the birth of our choir in Edinburgh and we were all committed to avoid it failing.
We sought out member feedback to try to keep rehearsals energised. There was focus on how Take Note could support our choir members, in and outside of rehearsals. As we got used to our new normal, we looked at how we could attempt our first performance. It was not exactly how we imagined our first outing to look like! In November, 2019, we released our version of Somewhere in My Heart, by Aztec Camera. This hit so many firsts for us. Our first performance, our first recording, our first attempt while being together, yet apart.
Restrictions lifting and hope
By the end of 2020, we had completely changed our choir operations; we had our first recording, our repertoire continued to expand and we had even welcomed new members to the group. With restrictions lifting slightly, we started to toss around ideas on how to rehearse again (outdoor rehearsals in winter, anyone?). Talk of vaccines was becoming more and more of a reality. Despite that, we knew the future of choirs were still bleak. Until the virus was fully under control, the possibility of group singing will continue to be a remote dream.
Heading back into winter
As we moved into a locked down 2021, we have continued to face a challenging time; our mental health continues to be impacted. Many of us are are frustrated and tired of the continuing monotony of restricted movement and socialisation. Take Note continues to beat forward. The 3rd February 2021 welcomes our first online taster and we are looking ahead once more. We have continued to tailor our rehearsal schedules so that we offer a beacon of positivity in the week. Soon, we’ll be able to sing together once more, and that that is a day we all cannot wait for.
Until then, if you want to get involved in a singing group, please do give us a shout. We would love to welcome you to our singing family!