Lockdown life – the everyday impact on Bedford: Part six

Tim Burns Choirantine
Tim Burns

Bedfordians have been sharing their experiences of the coronavirus ‘lockdown’. Giving emotional but also heart-warming insights into their experiences as we face the coronavirus pandemic together.

In this chapter, Tim Burns talks about how he has set up an online “virtual” choir for anyone who wants to sing together over the lockdown.

It’s a free initiative with optional donations, and 50% of every donation goes to the NHS critical care ward to support them as they deal with the pandemic.

Choirantine, a socially-distant virtual choir

In a regular working week, you’d find me traversing most of Bedfordshire, running various choirs, vocal ensembles and as a private vocal tutor.

Given that group singing is the art of prolonged breathing-out in close quarters, and Covid-19 is easily spread via the breath, myself and many of my fellow choral directors shut up shop before the lockdown began, to prevent infection through our groups.

The sudden end of all my major working commitments gave me free time to develop a new project: Choirantine, a socially-distant virtual choir.

Group singing has long been proven to have positive psychological benefits. The feeling of learning, rehearsing and performing something together lifts the spirits, and as a choir director, there’s nothing quite like seeing the weight of the world fall off your choristers shoulders as they sing.

Choirantine takes that idea and condenses it into an hour of singing over a Zoom video call.

We focus on one popular/classic song per session (recent examples include the “Friends” theme tune, “Lean On Me” in honour of Bill Withers & “Come Alive” from The Greatest Showman), and participants can either sing the tune or even learn some simple harmonies.

Because there’s a delay, everyone but me has to be muted, but we make up for it with enthusiastic performances and banter in the message board.

My personal highlight comes at the end, when participants send me a recording of themselves performing the song. I mix these all together into one audio, and send it back to them so they can hear the “live” sound of the whole choir, in full harmony.

You leave with both a sense of connection (sorely needed at these isolating times) and a sense of achievement.

Choirantine is a free initiative, with an option to support financially should you choose. 50% of all donations received go to Bedford Hospital Trust, specifically the Critical Care Unit, to aid in their efforts to fight the virus and help the worst-affected patients.

If you’re interested in giving it a try, and want to find out when the next session is scheduled, subscribe at choirantine.co.uk and fill your details in at the bottom of the homepage.

By Tim Burns, Wixams

Article edited for typos, grammar and length.

How to submit your own lockdown experience

Sharing your experiences, and how coronavirus is affecting you, will help others and also create a social record of how coronavirus is affecting us all.

How you write your experiences is entirely up to you. But here are some pointers:

  • Please submit photos to accompany the piece
  • Describe who you are? Are you a teenager, a parent, business owner or volunteer. Who you are will help readers understand your point of view
  • Write it in a way that’s personal to you and your experiences
  • You can talk about anything you want. How you feel, what you’re doing differently, how family life is at home, but be honest
  • You can write a diary style piece, a list of ideas, or simply a story, be as creative as you like
  • Try to keep it about 400 words

Send your article to news@bedfordindependent.co.uk.

Submissions from all ages are welcome. Please include your full name and what area of Bedford you live in. We won’t need your street address.

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