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So what happens next?


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In the days when I was running a highly successful adult church choir we always took August off from singing on a Sunday and from choir practise on a Wednesday evening. On the last Sunday, at the end of July, we would have our 'Cathedral visit' usually to the Metropolitan Cathedral in Liverpool where we would sing the Solemn Mass, take the coach down to have lunch at the Adelphi and then back to sing Evening Prayer followed by a party in the grounds of the Community House in Liverpool. It was a lovely way to end the season and much enjoyed by all. It gave the choir an opportunity to sing in somewhere splendid, somewhere away from the dreadful acoustic of our tiny little Abbey, somewhere where they could hear how good they really were.   

August was spent, by me, firstly on holiday with the family and then tidying the choir room and music storage and then, usually a couple of days, upstairs in attics of Banks in York looking for interesting Music to keep the choir busy for the next year. (I always maintained that a choir that wasn't kept busy got bored - and might even start to argue!!!) Choir practices would start at the beginning of September. This was a large choir, 40 strong, and occasionally a member would decide, over the summer, to 'hang up their choir robe' for one reason or another. Hopefully new people would be welcomed and settle in to choir routine of Wednesday evening and Sunday morning practice followed by Solemn Mass, monthly Evening Prayer, plus social events of course but I always found the first couple of weeks, possibly the month, of September hard work! Sometimes very hard work. 

I'm now well away from it! Sometimes I miss it and, on the Sundays here in France when we weren't able to attend Mass, I did wonder quite what to do with my Sunday morning.

I'm wondering how colleagues are spending their Sunday mornings (and their weekday evenings!)! How are your choir members spending their Sunday morning - and the night of choir practice? Have they realised that the garden, their other hobby, the family might have been missing out in the past? How are they, and you, preparing for a return to singing? A return to choir practice? Have you thought of 'calling it a day'? Have some of your choir thought of 'calling it a day'? What about the youngsters? How are they going to react to coming back to sing on a Tuesday and Friday evening (or whatever!) and a Sunday morning? Will they come back? What incentive are you going to put in place for them - and the adults? Is recruiting going to be more difficult? If it was hard work in the past is it a good time to start afresh? Will it be the same as before? Can it ever be the same as before?

It's been a long time, nearly five months! I found it hard work after just a month away from it! I don't know whether to be optimistic or pessimistic for parish church music in the future.

There used to be a US TV programme, broadcast in the UK, called, I think, 'Soap'. it always ended with the words "These and lot of other questions will be answered ..............................."

I'd be interested to know what colleagues think!  

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It's a strange thing. I was organist and choirmaster for 15 years at a church with a decent choir. After I left, I found it hard to "let go" and found that I was almost as busy freelancing for the next three years as I had been before (much to my wife's chagrin). Sunday mornings particularly were times of disquiet if I didn't have a gig. Somehow I felt incomplete. If a major festival fell and I didn't have a booking somewhere decent to play, I felt bereft. I had similar feelings on March 20th and for weeks afterwards. However now, I don't miss it at all. There's no craving anymore on a Sunday to go and play some asthmatic instrument somewhere for a choir of 2 octogenarians and a congregation of 8. Lockdown has been my rehab. The addiction is under control, and I feel a whole lot better for that.

Of course, that's not to say come the resumption of music in church services that I won't jump back in with both feet, but for now, I'm happy with my lot...

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I don't have a choir, so no problems there (and no opportunities either) but I've probably been busier during the lockdown recording hymns & songs for church & producing them on You Tube videos (plus the occasional voluntary - I managed the Karg-Elart "Nun Danket" for the church anniversary a couple of weeks back.  It's amazing how long this can take (especially with my health issues & medication which mean I get very tired quite quickly).  I'll be glad to get back to playing in church as usual!  My efforts are on my You Tube channel, including a basic piano & organ duet arrangement of Woodlands, both parts played by me.

Every Blessing


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Having been organist of the same small parish church for 30 years, it has been very odd! I still video a few hymns each week (on home Hauptwerk) which go online with the service sheet but it still seems strange not to have choir practice, services, etc.

... but after 3 months I find I'm not missing it that much.

I worry about the future though. Like many other smaller churches, our choir has dropped from 35 about 30 years ago to 20 fifteen years ago and now to about 10 - and the number of youngsters has gone from over 15 to none. Most All of those remaining are over 60 (and most over 70) and you must wonder how many will come back - especially as it looks like there will be no singing for a while.
Sadly, i think this could be the end for some of the many small groups in small churches.


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My village church choir has been recording hymns and anthems for the online services since Easter. There are only 15 ladies in the choir, and only 5 of them have the confidence and technical ability to record themselves at home. I add some lower parts by the wonders of multi-tracking. The results are not too bad and are, I think, better than nothing or than importing recordings from elsewhere. It does take me quite a time each week to get them done. We also have practices during the week by Zoom in which the emphasis is on chat as well as singing. I’m not sure what happens when the church re-opens if singing is not allowed.

I also record outgoing voluntaries, but I cut down on practice by fading them out after a minute or so.

I do think that the Church of England will have some challenges after this is over.

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