So, in my original proposal I estimated 8 days of research and development to try and get this choir off the ground. Well, surprise surprise, I have now just completed 7 days of R&D and still have to write up my safeguarding documentation, all monitoring and evaluation documentation, choose initial repertoire for at least the first couple of sessions until I see who comes and what they want to do, get all lyrics typed up and of course everything photocopied. I also have offered three more taster sessions – two for the elders in the community, one at the 60 plus lunch club at Minstead Gardens and one for Regenerate Rise in Putney – add to this the free taster for all outside on the green and you can see that 8 days is going to be more like 10
It would be easy to pour myself into this project like a bottomless pit, what is great to remember is the ‘p’ word ie pilot – this is only the start, to find out if there is an appetite for a community choir in Roehampton and I am using this blog as part of the process – this whole project is about journey as much, if not more, than about outcomes
For those interested I have posted my original proposal and looking through it I have ticked everything thus far I said I would but it has taken longer, so much longer than anticipated
I was very much left to get on with it and had to hit the ground running very quickly. It became apparent that the area is desperately lacking a central hub, a community space to make connections, the likes of which you see all the time on “the secret millionaire” – Roehampton is full of a mixture of people in small groups – Church groups, University Groups, Residents Association Groups, Student Groups, Street drinking groups, Refugee family groups, Primary school groups ……. I could go on and on – of course this is usual in any community but here the sections of a large proportion of older people who have lived on the estates since they were built, with newer residents who have brought flats once the council starting selling them to council tenants, who have now sold them on, to many new groups of people who have moved in over the past 15 years is marked and fascinating, along with the juxtapostion and divide of the main road and the social housing on one side the very expensive houses on the other
At the end of the day, people are people and if you like singing you will respond to this kind of project whatever your background, but it has made making inroads and connections quite complex for me. I have built up an email contact list of over 60 in those 7 days
900 flyers were produced and delivered to all the GP’s surgeries in the area (80 leaflets delivered to 4 surgeries), primary schools (100 leaflets delivered to 5 schools), then emails send with e flyers to as many local community organisations and contacts I could find
I randomly approached strangers in the street and offered and delivered taster sessions, both of which were the most positive way of doing things – however walking around Roehampton and talking takes up as much, if not more time, than emailing and felt as though even if I moved onto the estate for a month I would only begin to scratch the service of who I might find to talk to
All I can hope now is that the few who have found this blog locally are spreading the word and I hope that June 1st will be enormous fun and encourage a few passers by to tell others – thanks to Christine, Penny, Elaine, Meloney and Mary Rose who are all on the ground and saying good things, plus the staff at the library and the receptionists at the schools and GP’s surgeries, not to mention the various clergy, and Regenerate – my biggest hope is that some of you wonderful mum’s who attended the taster session at Heathmere are going to come back for more
Radio silence from me next week while I get the paperwork done but I promise to report back with photos and quotes after our open air workshop on June 1st
COMMUNITY CHOIR PROJECT : ROEHAMPTON ASPIRATIONS
PROPOSAL FROM PHOENE CAVE : Creative Connections for Music & Wellbeing
Participation & Wellbeing 1 TARGETING WIDE RANGE OF AGES & DEMOGRAPHIC:
• Free tasters and meeting as many potential participants as possible.
• Community partners and Arts team to support the choir facilitator to make positive connections.
• Singing more important than talking and ‘pop-up’ impromptu tasters will be a vital component to attract attention and interest.
• Familiarity in working this way, especially encouraging teenagers to sing in schools and also persuading very sick patients to sing whilst in hospital. The experience has always been very positive and people respond well.
Participation & Wellbeing 2 INCLUSIVITY (ABILITY)
• I run singing groups and choirs to develop confidence, building personal resources and competencies of the participants. Commencing with simple fun warm up games, body percussion and physical relaxation, followed by unison singing (all taught by ear, call and response so no words or music needed). As a qualified music therapist I watch, listen and respond in a particular way allowing for spontaneity and improvisation as well as set structure. I set boundaries so that everyone feels safe and encourage creativity, working in small groups within the choir, allowing those who can and want to sing harmonies and solos, or to play instruments or conduct, encouraging differentiation within the teaching.
• I run an inclusive community choir in North London at Nordoff Robbins which attracts those from ages 16 – 86yrs with people from a myriad of backgrounds & culture, with mental health and learning disabilities, physical ailments, or simply friends, neighbours, staff and teachers.
• I recommend one choir initially to encourage this inclusivity.
Identity & Placemaking 1 INCLUSIVITY (REPERTOIRE)
• All repertoire will be chosen to reflect any diversity (or even to promote diversity and different genres amongst a similar demographic)
• Song choices will cover a wide range of repertoire all taught in an accessible call and response fashion. I will offer songs in English as well in other languages. I am happy to teach new material introduced to me by group members.
• Genre will include pop, folk, jazz, world music and will be accessible to all.
• In 12 sessions I would not expect to build up a vast repertoire but choice will be given in week one for which songs the choir want to work on.
Identity & Placemaking 2 NEIGHBOURHOOD COHESION
• As a music therapist and experienced community choir leader, I am only too aware of the importance of song choice in supporting a ‘mood’ and reflecting the particular ‘spirit’ the choir members want to convey.
• Choir members will be asked week 1 what it is they feel they represent and what they want to say so we can work together on picking songs that best demonstrate this, such as “Something Inside So Strong” by Labi Siffre if they feel this is appropriate.
STAGE ONE (Set up & research and development)
• Meet with the Arts team to gather as much information as possible on aims & objectives, as well as community contact details such as schools, community centres, community groups encompassing the entire spectrum of demographic
• Research on the ground and on the internet the estates and surrounding support networks for the project (such as Universities of Kingston and Roehampton for music and music therapy students, Queen Mary’s hospital for potential performance space and for patients and Eastwood Childrens’ centre for any isolated families who could join the choir – or an ‘offshoot’ and bring their children)
• Set up meetings with as many local community groups as is feasible
• Find a suitable venue available to all and decide on a time, place and cost. I would recommend that a small donation is suggested as there is, in my experience, more engagement., plus if the choir then starts to charge after the pilot we will lose members.
• Produce a leaflet, arrange for printing and phone as many volunteers as possible to distribute far and wide within the locale. In my experience word of mouth and flyers in libraries, pubs and corner shops the best way of advertising.
• Arrange for interviews with local press, media (radio) and use social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter to promote.
• Write and produce evaluation forms.
• Decide on repertoire for the 12 week pilot and on how best to share lyrics (laptop and projector, or printed lyric sheets – the latter will need to be supported by the Arts office due to the time & cost of photocopying)
• Offer some free taster sessions when out and about meeting potential partners
STAGE TWO (Delivery)
12 half days
• Prepare, deliver and evaluate 12 x 90 min sessions
• This delivery stage could also potentially include x 6 mother and baby sessions at Eastwood Childrens Centre, or taster sessions at various settings in the area that are accessible on the same day including linking in to the community mental health team or Arts in Healthcare team at Queen Mary’s hospital. This could not be clarified until community needs are assessed during initial set up period
STAGE THREE (Final report including Monitoring & Evaluation)
• Producing a report with recommendations for next steps and sustainability including results from the monitoring and evaluation questionnaires produced.