When the Pandemic Struck

This article first appeared in Suffolk Community Foundation blog

As soon as the country went into lockdown back in March, each of the eight singing groups (located in varying locations across the county) had to put a sudden stop to their weekly singing meet ups. The team at Music In Our Bones responded very quickly to work out how they could stay in touch with all of their members, all of whom rely so greatly on this ‘lift’ and the connection that singing together can give to people when they need it most.    

Via the Suffolk Coronavirus Community Fund, Music In Our Bones have been awarded funding.  This has enabled the team to stay in regular contact with over 250 participants, taking every form of contact they can online. From the start they made sure they were checking in on them all to ensure they are well and to check how they are coping.  This became an essential phone network offering, that continues to work well in order to monitor the mental and physical health of all their members as they continue to stay at home, some who have been there since March.

They have also been able to expand on their successful online/CD singing sessions in the latter part of this year of the pandemic, helping vulnerable people throughout the second and third lockdowns. 

The organisation has stayed in touch with their participants via email, sending out fortnightly online singing sessions on YouTube and Facebook. 2,000 CDs have been sent by post, as not everyone has online access and some singers like to listen to the singing sessions away from a laptop, such as getting on with housework or going out for a drive. This singing support and encouragement at home has been invaluable to many people across Suffolk who continue to feel isolated and lonely.  The power of music and singing together (even if it is virtually for now) has kept these members spirits up when have needed it most. 

Tracy and her amazing team of volunteers will continue to maintain all that is currently on offer on-line and via CDs until the autumn, as they look to help everyone to regain lost confidence and motivation. As lockdown three begins to ease, the team will restart their doorstep visits for those that are most isolated, moving on to garden sings and singing walks in woods and by rivers during the summer.  

Thanks so much for the CD which arrived yesterday. As soon as N heard the intro, his face lit up! It sounds great, thank you for all the work you both put into it. Have been enjoying our Musical Memories what’s app group too.

A family carer in Musical Memories 

It was good to sing those familiar songs along with you. Such care and support keeps the threads of our singing family together while we can’t meet.

A Lifting Spirits singer who lives alone 

I really appreciate the C.D.s that you have been sending to me and would appreciate you carrying this on. I have used them and the CDs have helped me through this worrying and lonely time very much.

A bereaved HeartSong singer living alone

We are so grateful for the funding, as in between lockdowns we have been able to offer tiny garden sings (socially distanced of course!), each with 6 people. These encouraged some of our members who have scarcely left their homes to rediscover the confidence and joy they feel whilst singing with others. It also took our singing directly to those no longer able to leave either their homes or their residential accommodation.  We are looking forward to starting these sessions again as we come out of lockdown three.   

Letting people know they matter; lifting spirits with the musical gift of CDs; staying in touch on the phone, email and Facebook; running zoom ‘desert island disc’ sharing sessions; keeping people singing via our you tube sessions has all only been possible thanks to the belief in us shown by our funders. On behalf of everyone we are in touch with, it’s a huge THANK YOU!

Tracy Sharp– Singing and Project Coordinator, Music In Our Bones