Stats ‘n’ stuff

Numbers

Week 1 24
Week 2 19
Week 3 16
Week 4 17
Week 5 13
Week 6 12

Location
24 participants (asked week 1)

1 Southfields
5 Putney
18 Local & within walking distance e.g Clarence lane, Tatchbury, Arnwood, Dover House Road, Roehampton Lane, Danebury Avenue, Ashburton, Kingslade, Foxcombe Road

Where they heard about the project
24 participants (asked week 1)

0 Leaflet anywhere other than library (including ASDA, GP surgeries or schools)
0 Roehampton Voice newsletter
1 Physiotherapist
1 Social worker
2 Leaflet in Library
2 Queen Mary’s hospital
4 SW15 website
7 Phoene (meeting, taster session, street workshop)
7 Word of mouth

Demographic
13 participants (asked week 6)

Gender
2 Male
11 Female

(3 other men attended the first 4 sessions and 3 other men attended one session each)

Age
0 0-14
0 14-21
2 21-35
2 35-50
3 50-65
6 65 plus

As half the group did not attend all six sessions and did not complete evaluation forms I cannot give you accurate data for the remaining but would suggest that of those 11 people

2 0-14
1 14-21
2 35-50
2 50-65
4 65 plus

Ethnicity
1 White Irish
1 Other mixed background
1 Chinese
10 White British

Of the remaining group who did not complete evaluations

1 Indian
3 Black African
7 White & British, Irish or European

Experience

“Have you ever sung in a choir or singing group before?”

5 No
8 Yes

Venue

The general feeling was that the location was good geographically. Air conditioning not great for singing voices. No piano. Would have been good if water could have been provided so that the cost of it did not have to come from limited budget or carried by Phoene and Ellie. The first half of the sessions were noisy due to sound leakage of music from room next door. It was reasonable but not ideal.

Cost (£1.50)

8 OK
4 Too cheap
1 Means tested

“What is a reasonable fee that you could afford to pay each week?”

1 £6
2 £5
1 £4
6 £3
3 £2

Enjoyment

“How enjoyable did you find the Alton Sings community choir project?”

0 0 (not enjoyable)
0 1
0 2
0 3
4 4
9 5 (extremely enjoyable)

“I feel so good – a great start”

“A really good evening – I loved it”

“The best community project that’s ever been in Roehampton!”

“Thank you for a wonderful evening full of music, song, fun and friendship”

“ A wonderful evening and a great opportunity to meet the neighbours and do things together”

“A very good opportunity to meet different people in the community and learn”

“I thought I couldn’t sing, but maybe I can!”

Wellbeing

“Do you feel different after the choir sessions?”

0 0 (no different)
0 1
0 2
3 3
4 4
6 5 (completely different)

“I’m singing because it’s good for my lung disease”

“It’s helping with my confidence and making me feel better about myself”

“A fantastic first session – I feel so good”

“I look forward to my time away from my boring home to sing and feel alive and free”

“Energised”

“I have a busy job and feel drained prior to the choir. After the sessions I feel rejuvenated, energized”

“All the issues of the day are gone and are forgotten”

“I always sleep well after the sessions”

“It’s uplifting to raise your voice and sing. A change”

“Brighter and happier”

“Gives me an energy boost”

“Relaxing and enjoyable”

“Feel funky, free, refreshed and happy”

“Feel happy as I enjoy it so much – every time”

“Uplifted, lighter, brighter, no worries”

“Helped with my confidence”

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Moving forward

Alton Sings is now trialling an afternoon slot at Heathmere School in Alton Road
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As suspected it was a pretty crazy idea trying to combine choir practice within a working school full of children, crossing lunchtime and school pick up during the last week of term! However we all survived. I am incredibly grateful to the school staff and I hope somewhere in the school the sound of us singing gave a different soundscape to lessons for the children

Interestingly two of the mums who came to the taster session came back and sang with us, which was lovely. There was one other new face who had seen a flyer in the library and he had travelled from Southfields so was not local. EVERYONE else (and there was 14 of us in total) was already part of the evening choir
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This is positive in that Alton Sings now has a ‘core’ but saddened me a little that the project couldn’t allow for more time and money for me to really do a further promotional push. More on this later but I am convinced that further promotional push was not going to come from more flyers, the Roehampton Voice newsletter, but from me walking the streets and talking and doing this over a sustained period of time. School pick up time would have been the most useful – to carve out an hour at each school to talk in the playground. Also to visit each and every Community Clubroom in turn as well as to get to talk to the participants at 166 and Eastwood, not just staff. To visit Regenerate when the young people were in. I did well with the older persons’ projects in Putney and Minstead Gardens, but that degree of sitting down and talking to everyone personally in all those settings would have taken the equivalent of a full week ie 35 hours – time that was simply not in the proposal. It would however, I am sure, been time well spent. When I worked at the Royal Brompton hospital leading singing there for those with lung conditions, it was the sitting by the bedside and talking to people that persuaded them to come, not flyers or staff mentioning it but the personal touch and the support of a small group of staff and patients who had attended and felt the benefits

It would have also been preferable to not have the project run across the school summer holidays as it was promoted as an adult choir, many parents will be looking after children, despite my welcome to young people, if accompanied
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Today is midway report time. Will post when finished. For now you may be interested to read a larger monitoring and evaluation of a similar projects nationally run by Making Music. Excellent report written by Kathryn Deane, the CEO of SoundSense the community music organisation.

http://www.makingmusic.org.uk/our-work/projects/vocality

Rain hopefully doesn’t stop play……..

The blog title refers to the fact that so many of our songs seem to be about sunshine – simply because the Nordoff Robbins Community Choir which I also run, told me I chose too many dour and miserable songs for them last year, so I seem to have gone too far in the other direction! Maybe an attempt to keep the optimism bubbling
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Tough night tonight – we had half the number we had weeks 1 and 2 and 12 is a difficult number as it means when you are singing in three parts you haven’t got much support around you. Everyone did really well and I am hoping that the fact that Andy Murray was playing tennis may have had something to do with it – also I am off on holiday to the Isle of Skye where I hope for some sunshine

I am hoping that those we haven’t seen for a few weeks do come back for the final session on July 17th, otherwise it is going to be a major job for me to make over a dozen phone calls and then posting out evaluation forms (hopefully some people will be able to do that electronically)

God seems to have become quite an issue. Really interesting, in my other life I am a shiatsu practitioner – this a form of Japanese bodywork based on traditional Chinese medicine, I also do yoga – my point – in Shiatsu if you treat the whole body you can quite easily pad up and down various parts and it is simply part of a body, if you focus on bottom as a bottom it suddenly becomes a no go area, rather than simply gluteus maximus, in yoga, if you focus on the bit that hurts that is all you can feel and are aware of. As I was specifically asked in my brief for this choir to be inclusive and to ensure songs are supported by the choir, I have got very conscious of songs which have religious connotation – in fact when I ran the wonderful impromptu taster session at Heathmere school with a group of mums, all with english as a second language and the majority with their heads covered, one lady asked me quite reasonably before we started “is this religious” and i said it wasn’t. Also so much in Roehampton is organised by the various churches and religious groups it really is the elephant in the room and it is beginning to bubble up a gentle debate. I like it though as in so many choirs those in the group get no choice about what they sing but I have to say I find it tough as a leader when I know there are believers and non believers and some get upset if I change words from religious to secular, viewed as a political correctness too far and others refuse to sing the word God or other worrying non Christians might be offended etc – I happen to know there is a vicar’s wife in the choir and some nuns as well as church goers and agnostics and non believers – it is a true reflection of our diversity as human beings but in all the years I have been doing this work (15) it is not something I have never encountered before & it is interesting

I will put some audio up soon – good unison SO much better than poor harmony and tweaking simply the support (ie singing using good low supported breath and body energy) and vowels turned “I can see clearly now” into something really wonderful – although there was a still a question of “Is this good enough” which prompted a heart felt response from me about who is the judge? For me, singing is always an expression of our true selves, connecting with words and music and singing with truth. Doing that with others as you get to know them better, others with similarly tough life issues (and like any other choir everyone has their life issues, it’s called being a human being) can be a wonderful thing and certainly the process and journey and hour to hour awareness surely so much more that the stress that can come with trying to reach some kind of “good enough” (by whose standards?) which has probably been prompted by our false perceptions fed by tv shows such as The Voice, and X factor, Britain’s got Talent etc – hey I love to watch them but not as a beacon of what singing is

I must remember to be in the process to and not to worry so about evaluation forms and outcomes and concerts and further funding but to remain fully present with who is in the room at the time and to facilitate as best I can – the August 4th performance will give us public face and hopefully pull in more numbers but mustn’t pull the rehearsals down as we strive for “perfection” when all we need is “expression”

Gathering together

Really interesting report been written by the Community Music organisation, SOUND SENSE on some community choir pilots in various areas across the country – I suspect many of their outcomes may reflect what we find – who knows …… makes for fascinating reading nonetheless

http://www.soundsense.org/metadot/index.pl?id=27669&isa=DBRow&op=show&dbview_id=22954

All going well – only 2 more rehearsals for the evening sessions – we will have learnt 6 songs and will be ready to perform them at the Roehampton Festival on August 4th along with whoever comes and joins us at Heathmere school – I am conscious that I am going on holiday tomorrow (WHAT a luxury) and so am going to be limited as to how much I can send reminders. I can only hope that we get double figures at least. We shall see.

The evening group is gathering together nicely and I look forward to sharing some audio with you soon

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