March 2020. Lockdown. What a kick in the face!
As I sat listening to Boris address the nation about lockdown, my first reaction, like so many others, was total panic! Panic about the impending pandemic. Panic about telling my students I needed to close my studio. Panic about how the hell I was going to earn a living. Panic about how the hell was my son going to complete his GCSEs! Panic about how was I going to see my family! Panic about how my band was going to rehearse! Panic about how on earth was I going to make music! What the hell was Covid anyway! Panic panic panic!
But when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. Music is not only my passion, but also my comfort blanket, my therapy, my emotional outlet, and so I immersed myself into my garden studio. Lockdown certainly became a creative time for me.
I wrote a plethora of songs, including Lockdown Crazy (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DSkUqxCP21I), Wrong, Make Myself New, Sean Connery and more, all of which are available on Soundcloud, https://soundcloud.com/annettescottmusic . It was great to see so many others being creative too when I joined The Positive Songs Project. I even got to grips with GarageBand! I also performed live sessions from my garden studio streamed on Facebook.
Lockdown saw the boom of Zoom, and it definitely zoomed into my life. I transferred all my piano and singing lessons to Zoom sessions. I must admit, I was a little nervous about how it would work but pleasantly surprised at the ease at which my me and my students made the transition. In fact, I have now taken on many new students during lockdown who have only ever had Zoom lessons. They really do work just as good as face to face lessons.
It was obvious that music was definitely getting me through lockdown, and I felt compelled to extend the need for musical therapy to others, to reach out to people who were struggling, to offer a little bit of light musical relief. I had successfully ran a ladies choir, called Songbirds in Harmony, for nine years, and I missed being creative with others. I began to ponder how I could make an online choir work.
Before I knew it, I had launched The Virtual Chorus! It attracted members from here in the UK and also in America! The songs were planned, the parts were recorded, the plan was set. The first song was The Virtual Chorus version of Elton Johns I’m Still Standing. Each member was sent their part and lyrics, and every Monday we Zoomed in to get to grips with the harmonies, and the performance of the vocals. It was actually really good fun. It was great to see everyone having a good time, and that really spurred me on.
At the end of each month, members sent me their voice recordings, and also their short videos. More technology was required at this point and I had to learn how to use recording software, and video editing software! But it didn’t take me long, and before soon, I had completed the first track. It sounded great, and I was so proud of everyone who had participated and invested their time into making the project come to life. The members were thrilled to hear the finished song.
The Virtual Chorus was joined by an amazing trio of brass players who I have worked with for many years, and who also play in my band, Gineva. My partner, who plays trombone in the trio, is truly an amazing, sensitive and very talented arranger, and he wrote the brass parts for the next two songs, I Won’t Give Up, and God Only Knows. It really took these songs to another level.
Here are the links to the songs:
God Only Know: https://youtu.be/MqhBwJYhy3s
I Won’t Give Up: https://youtu.be/sDuBgnip03A
I’m Still Standing: https://youtu.be/DYu3Hpjnrnk
As September approached, I was considering opening my studio once more for face to face lessons, but lockdown wasn’t away, so Zoom was set to stay. I felt my students needed something to focus on, and I launched monthly Live Zoom Showcase events. I was also hosting Zoom Open Mic events too. Lockdown had suddenly become quite a busy time!
The Virtual Chorus was only ever going to be a short term project during lockdown. And even though it was a few months, I’m so glad I did it. It was such good fun. I know the members really enjoyed the routine of it, the challenge of learning the parts and recording it flawlessly at home. I learned new technical skills along the way, and I also enjoyed the challenge of delivering a choir sessions via Zoom. Certainly different to having 30 people in front of me in a school hall, but still very demanding! The most rewarding part for me was receiving each members voice recordings, listening to the passion in their voices, knowing that they had given me the best of themselves so the project could come to life. And it did. The Virtual Chorus was one of the most musically satisfying, rewarding, challenging and educational projects I’ve ever done. And you never know, I might even do it again!