After more than 5 months, I dared to take the plunge and start physical rehearsals again. As soon as the British government allowed amateur musicians to go back to Covid-19 secure rehearsals, I consulted with my Choir Trustees what the next steps might be. Our umbrella organization for Amateur Musicians Making Music had published risk assessment, to be filled in and published in order to meet government policies. I am very lucky to have a team of trustees who immediately sat down to fill in page after page about how we are going to make sure our singers can return to rehearsals in a safe way.
We also decided to not go back to our usual rehearsal venue for the time being as they were not (yet?) risk assessed. Additionally we felt the room was not quite big enough for our singers to stand at 2m distance to each other.
The new room is situated in Central London, is airy with large windows and feels friendly and welcoming. It will cost us more than if we staid in our usual room. But if rehearsing there will make the singers feel safer, we all agreed, this is money very well spent.
So here we were, seeing each other in person for the first time in 5 months. 2/3 of my singers attended. There were a few who needed to self isolate (due to age, dependents or simply after a holiday) and of course there were some who were still on holiday or couldn’t attend for other reasons. But all in all everybody was very keen to come back and finally be allowed to sing together rather than just sing along on Zoom.
The immediate feedback I got was, that many were surprised how their voices had deteriorated. Singing is hard work they discovered, and if yo do it less for 5 months, it is hard to restart. I suspect that is a similar experience to everyone who has been back at the gym after months of just going for a run.
The musical result was of course not comparable to rehearsals before the lockdown. Everyone, including me, needed to adjust to the new sound, being spaced out, voice stamina and focus span will need some training again. But that was not what this was about in the first place. It was about no longer being isolated, feeling again the magic, singing together gives you, and having the reassurance that some time, hopefully in the near future, we will be able to live and experience again a live that we chose and enjoy.