Concentus Zooms forward following successful grant bids

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If you have seen the brightly coloured banners popping up in Eastbourne over the last few days and then wondered what it’s all about, this is how Concentus are spending their recently acquired community fund grants.

Since physical rehearsals have been effectively closed down since the start of lockdown in March, the choir wanted to ensure their members continued to meet with purpose and sing in the form of virtual rehearsals

Accordingly, Concentus has been very busy trialling numerous ways in developing the workings of Zoom to ensure their members remain supported and continue to enjoy a collective team spirit. 

In fact, the trials proved so successful that Tesco Bags of Help, Sussex Community Foundation and The National Lottery Community Fund (with special thanks to the Government) also saw great merit in their success and provided generous community funding to enable Concentus to realise their wish in supporting isolated people within the wider community.  The purpose is to improve the emotional state of the more isolated, vulnerable and lonely members of the community in encouraging them to enjoy a more active and connected life through singing.

Since the choir formed in 2005, it has always been keen to promote its community and inclusion vision.  It was therefore important that not only existing vulnerable and socially isolated choir members still have meaningful interaction with others, but there was also recognition that there are many others in the community who could benefit if receiving this same level of opportunity and support.

Concentus is now widening their Zoom singing sessions in forming a Sing From Home Choir, which is open to all and at no cost to participate. There is no minimum requirement of computer knowledge or experience in order to take part in Zoom sessions as full training in its use, or even to just get set up on a laptop, iPad or smart phone will be provided. This technical support will include 1-2-1 personal tuition if required.

Once participants feel comfortable using Zoom and if they have previous singing experience, they will be encouraged to join the main choir for rehearsals. If, however, anyone is completely new to, or inexperienced in singing, there is a novice class where basic tuition will include voice coaching leading to the learning of easy songs to sing along to. There is no requirement to read music in order to participate.

As participants progress, Concentus has developed ‘Breakout Rooms’ which enables them to split the choir into different voice parts or ‘ranges’.  Each range will have a separate conductor who will dedicate their teaching to the specific voice range. All sessions will help people explore and develop their voices through professional vocal techniques including warm up, breathing, posture, diction, rhythm, phrasing, projection, body language and performance including singing in harmony. 

‘There were a good number of members within the choir who were not conversant with computers, iPads and smart phones and honestly thought participation in Zoom sessions would be beyond their wildest dreams’, said Concentus Musical Director, Adrian White.  ‘However they found it much easier to learn than they thought and now regularly attend virtual rehearsals as well extending their personal contact in now being able to have Zoom meetings with their family and friends!’

The project will run for a minimum of six months, and Concentus is already planning to continue beyond this period.

For more details about the choir and their community project activities, please visit the Concentus website at eastbournechoir.com or call Claire – 07920430162, or Sue – 07789343514 or email info@concentus-sings.com.