It’s been almost a year since we last came together for a day of ‘Choir’ and actually, it will be a long time until we do it again. Not because we didn’t enjoy singing together, oh no! Singing is awesome. But because through consultation we decided to change the ‘Choir’ days to ‘Singing Resource Days’ (yes the name is lacking in imagination – but it’s intention is nice and clear). We realised that even though we’d love to have a Baha’i Choir in South Wales, it is very challenging for the members to make regular rehearsal sessions – once a month is still tricky, and there are always some who can’t make it on the day – but at least we get the majority of people coming then.
To have a choir we’d really need to meet once a fortnight at least, maybe even once a week. If we keep calling our group a choir, then we’re not going to achieve the goal of the group as we are unable (at this time) to rehearse the songs to a high enough standard to perform at an event. So changing the purpose of the day means that we can still enjoy singing together, but we can also work together to assist small groups to sing together in the member’s local communities. As the most experienced in this field, I am also able to support each small group’s activities, providing the music, some skills, encouragement and hands on sessions when needed too.
I found it interesting that once a space had been created for the each individual in the group to think about the kind of singing they engage with (or would like to) in their local communities – it opened up the possibility of many different kinds of singing groups, more than I would be able to manage by myself! I found the group also showed a greater sense of empowerment to be able to either run a group (such as a children’s class, or singing in the 19 day Feast, or music as part of study circles), or introduce more music or take part in a group (not everyone felt they could lead) from these Singing Resource Days, with the assurance that not only myself, but the other members could help and encourage them.
So now we have the opening up of music and songs in the children’s class and junior youth group and local community events in Swansea, the same in Swindon, a small singing group in Merthyr Tydfil, a project for Dad and myself to record backing tracks for the songs for people to sing along to, a project to put together a booklet expressing the importance and influence music can have on the soul and heart, and also support for the ‘Play and Pray’ group for parents and babies/toddlers in Caerphilly, Chepstow and Barry. So that’s 10 projects inspired from a vision of music having a greater part in the community with everyone interested in playing a part, however up-front or behind the scenes. I think it was totally worth letting go of the idea of one Choir for that, don’t you?
So altogether we sang ‘God sufficeth all things above all things’ ( a prayer of The Báb) first, then ‘Help me build a new world’ (by Asif Fazal), ‘As I went down to the river to pray’ (by Allison Strauss from the film ‘Oh Brother where art thou’, ‘Look at me, Follow me’ (about Abdu’l-Bahá, from the 1992 Bahá’í World Congress) and ‘Tue Tue’ (a Harvest song from Ghana).
Of course we were all so involved in the day that we totally forgot to take any photos, so that’s the next thing to empower someone to do! However, altogether there were nine adults singing, three adults supporting and six children as part of our day from Swansea, Merthyr, Pontllanfraith, Rogerstone and Swindon. Everyone had a really lovely time with cake, many songs, great chats, new friendships, running around the park and the garden and then pizza and chips for those who stayed afterwards for more chats. It was hard to say goodbye and I wished this had been planned as a weekend, rather than just a day. Roll on the next one!
If you would like to come to the next ‘Singing Resource Day’ then email Fleur here: firstname.lastname@example.org (p.s. you’ll need to bring cake!)