by Sarah Mitchell
So what has helped during lockdown?
A few different things; the companionship of the dog; being able to talk to my
husband rationally, most of the time; doing emails for Citizens Advice; preparing
services and prayers for the church; good coffee; but, most of all - Harbour
lights online choir.
Why was that?
Because for one hour or more a week I was part of a bigger whole, together with
my friends, doing something that fed my soul.
How did it work?
Well first of all I had to learn to Zoom! Now there is a verb I never thought I
would use. Acquiring technical skills I never thought I would need and that I
really wasn’t sure I wanted to have until that wonderful moment when I could
see my friends. Then all the frustration and swearing at the machine became
So actually how did the choir work?
Oh OK. Well the inspiration behind the online choir was our Choir Leader Sarah
Is she the lady who looks like either a house elf from Harry Potter or one of his
teachers perhaps for music and the arts?
Well I suppose that is one way of describing her – but I would describe her as a
slightly demented fairy from the top of the Christmas Tree or a ballerina who
escaped from a music box. Either way she was the inspiration.
How did she inspire you?
She led us through the understanding of the technical stuff for Zoom but also
learnt so many new skills herself so she could keep us involved. She was also working
so hard to encourage us, motivate us and make us laugh. Laughter was so
important during the lockdown because it felt so serious at times looking after
loved ones and not seeing other loved ones, that sometimes you forgot to laugh.
How did she make you laugh?
Well there was the hats!! I have always kept my fascinator because it reminds me
now of that time when we sang “All Around My Hat, I Wear The Green Willow”.
Someone said it was like I was wearing a giant black spider on my head. I think
that maybe have been John Bird!! But Sarah’s smile could make you laugh. It
would always be from one ear to the other and that slight hesitation when she
would so tactfully suggest a way of improving our performance. I often
wondered what we must have sounded like when singing together but on our own.
What else do you remember about the online choir?
I remember looking at people’s homes!! Some chose to sing lying on their beds,
some from their kitchens, some from Spain, some from Scotland. I was
intrigued by what people drank, by what they wore, how long their hair was
getting. I still wonder if people realised I was mostly in my nightie as I went off
to bed after choir practice!!
How did the singing make you feel?
Well for that hour I didn’t think of anything else but making music. I sang, I
banged on my drums, I stood up and breathed properly, I laughed, I sometimes
cried, I slept better that night and I loved every moment of it.
Would you do it again?
Oh yes! I would rather sing in a choir with my friends around me but if I
couldn’t again I would rather sing this way than not at all. Making music reaches
the depth of my being but making music with others lifts my being.