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What's On: Velvet joins a virtual choir

In the lockdown spirit of doing something new, Velvet’s Sarah Ingram has taken up a daily singing habit. What’s it all about?

I’m not gonna lie, when I first started doing this I felt a complete twit. Imagine the scenario, my other half (‘im upstairs) is conscientiously beavering away in the study, working from home, and I’m lurking nervously in the living room, my phone clutched tightly in my cold little fist (we’re trying to be good by layering up during the day but, brrrr), waiting for Facebook to tell me that my first Daily Sing with The Rock Choir is about to start. It’s ridiculous to feel nervous, I tell myself – who's going to hear me? Well, ‘im upstairs for a start, and possibly my startled neighbours.

Here’s the thing, I can’t sing a note. Well, I can, but it’s a very out of tune note. And the thought of singing out loud in my living room, on my own, is, frankly, embarrassing. The original idea was that I would do this in the comfort of a crowd, at an actual Rock Choir session, and I was really looking forward to it.

Then, of course, COVID-19 happened. But those brilliant folk at The Rock Choir very quickly realised that a daily singing activity would help people feel connected and help maintain morale (because singing makes you feel good, right?) and before you could shake a conductor’s baton at it, they’d got the Daily Sing up and running on Facebook for everyone to join in.

Velvet's Sarah Ingram joins the virtual Rock Choir (34125501)
Velvet's Sarah Ingram joins the virtual Rock Choir (34125501)

Rock Choir is the largest contemporary choir in the UK with more than 32,000 Members in approximately 400 local communities across the UK. It’s built on an ethos of family, fun, friendship and community spirit, and it’s that community spirit as much as the natural high you get from singing (heck, I get a natural high just to hear > a choir singing) that makes it such an important part of a Rock Choir member’s life.

So it’s no surprise that when social distancing started in earnest, Rock Choir founder and creative director, Caroline Redman Lusher, wanted to find a way to keep supporting the members – or ‘Rockies’ as they’re known in the trade – and, more ambitiously, to offer every individual and family across the UK a daily singing boost.

She says: “We have 32,000 ‘Rockies’ in Rock Choir who, along with the rest of the general public, will each be facing uncertainty. Some will be scared, some lonely and others will be in isolation potentially for a long time so we encourage them and the public to join us daily and benefit from the well-being effects of Rock Choir.

“We know that singing boosts our levels of Endocannabinoids – neurotransmitters thought to be the cause of the ‘natural high’. As well as giving us a ‘buzz’, these chemicals are linked to improving mood and reducing anxiety and stress. This is essential to our well-being and we aim to try and replicate these feelings with our online singing activities!”

So was born the Daily Sing and I remain utterly impressed by how quickly things were put in place to make this happen. Every day at 3pm, Rock Choir O’Clock, one of Rock Choir’s talented team leads a mass sing-along – there's a different leader every day, and they come from all over the UK. There’s a warm-up to get you in the mood, and as every leader has their own individual approach to warming up, you never know what you’re going to be doing, which is fun and exciting. A link to the words of the following day’s song is posted on the Facebook page the day before, so you can exercise your little grey cells as well by memorising them ahead of the sing-along.

I’m there, every day at 3pm. And I have a ball, I really do. I carried on being embarrassed for a couple of days, told ‘im upstairs that he could wear his noise-isolating headphones if he liked, closed the blinds, and mumbled really quietly, secretly envying my singer friends who can let go with full-throated abandon in the sure knowledge that they aren’t going to break any windows (or relationships).

But then I thought, this is jolly rude, actually – those Rock Choir leaders are working their socks off to give us lockeddowners a good old workout, the least I can do is join in wholeheartedly. So my clicking and clapping and ‘oh yeahs’ have got louder, and I’m shaking my booty like there’s no tomorrow. More than 3,000 of us join in and the stream of positive comments and hearts and smiley faces that swim up the Facebook page as we’re doing it makes me feel warm and fuzzy – and connected.

I can’t wait for tomorrow: we're going to be singing I’m Still Standing, and I’ll imagine those two or three thousand other people across the country singing along with me and I’ll smile and feel grateful that we are still standing.

And when this is over, I am going to join my local Rock Choir.

You can join in the Daily Sing too. Go to facebook.com/TheRockChoir and #KeepBritainSinging.

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