Isolation diary: Singing along

The Great British Home Chorus

Eight members of our (not so extended) family work in the music industry, as performers, teachers, publishers and music producers. So it’s not surprising that I have spotted many online musical performances given in kitchens and sheds over the last few weeks. My daughter-in-law’s brother multi-tracking himself playing jigs on his violin; a friend playing Happy Birthday to his grand-daughter on his euphonium; choirs apparently singing together on Zoom.

The latter is a bit misleading because it just isn’t possible to sing together over the Internet – the time delay is significant. Instead singers have to listen to a backing track on headphones and video themselves singing, then submit it to someone who can then synchronise the voices.

I learnt that from Gareth Malone. Every weekday at 5.30pm I join his Great British Home Chorus, as does Paul Walter, my colleague here on Lib Dem Voice. So far over 120,000 people have registered. On most days Gareth Malone leads the half hour rehearsal live from the shed/music studio in his garden. Occasionally he pre-records when he is making live appearances on other platforms. When he first started two weeks ago he was clearly experimenting a bit; he has received a huge amount of friendly advice and suggestions via the rolling comments thread, many of which he has taken on board.

A typical rehearsal begins with some of the most fun warm ups I have ever done. Yesterday he threw in “We’ll meet again” taking his cue from the Queen’s speech on Sunday. One day last week we all sang along to “Lean on me” in tribute to Bill Withers. Both those songs were highly appropriate and quite moving, although I find myself laughing through most of the warm ups.

Then we all work on a song together. We have already sung “You are my sunshine” and Elton John’s “I’m still standing”. (The music video of Elton John features a young and very camp Bruno Tonioli). This week we are working on Duran Duran’s “Ordinary World”.

His grand idea is to create a huge sound by combining videos sent in by members of the chorus. We can download a backing track of “You are my sunshine” then record ourselves singing along.

Last Friday Gareth Malone appeared live for the rehearsal at 5.30pm in a rather nice shirt and told us that he would have to finish promptly at 6pm so he could drive over to the BBC for The One Show. And there he was an hour later live in the studio talking about us. He also showed the very beginning of the mash up of “You are my sunshine” which is rather good. You can watch the show here – the segment is from 8mins 45 secs in. (I can’t find a clip of it anywhere!)

You’re not going to spot me on the final video because I haven’t sent in a recording. Sadly my voice hasn’t been working properly for several weeks, mainly because I react badly to some spring flowers. That doesn’t stop me, though, from singing along in a croaky voice from home.

It’s not too late to join the Great British Home Chorus. You need to register here. You will be sent an email each day with links to the next rehearsal and to the music scores. You can catch up on past rehearsals here.



Please note

We have been in full self-isolation since 16th March to protect my husband whose immune system is compromised.

If you are in self-isolation then join the Lib Dems in self-isolation Facebook group.

You can find my previous Isolation diaries here.


* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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  • Richard Underhill 7th Apr '20 - 6:29pm

    We listen to a lot of music on the radio, mostly repeats or recorded music. BBC radio 3 is about a lot of musicians performing from home for free, but missing out on payments for arranged gigs. They are currently doing a lengthy feature about the life of Beethoven and how he made a living and maintained his individuality until a paymaster also sponsored an army against Napoleon and became bankrupt.
    Classic FM is inviting us to vote for a long list of favourites, including the first winner 25 years ago. (Bruch violin).

  • Richard Underhill: I imagine the Bruch is just as popular today.

  • Richard Underhill 8th Apr '20 - 9:42am

    Mary Reid 7th Apr ’20 – 7:18pm
    My personal favourite is Beethoven’s ninth Symphony, last movement.

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