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Jessa’s Singing Larks – May and June 2022

Just a quick post to list all the forthcoming events and where you can catch me singing (or sing with me!) over the next few weeks….lots of varied events coming up!

Fieldsings continue every Saturday, from wherever I am. So look out on my Facebook page on Saturday mornings (usually between 9.30 and 10, although I may be earlier this week!) to catch me live, or listen later on, either on Facebook or on instagram or YouTube – there are now 112 weeks of #fieldsinger antics on there. All likes, comments, and shares are much appreciated.

LET OUR VOICES UNITE! 25th May

Come and see 3 of my choirs(and myself) in action at Easingwold Galtres Centre on Wednesday 25th May at 7.30pm. Tickets, £12, available from the galtres centre by phone or in person.

COME AND SING THE JUBILEE! POP UP CHOIR, 29TH MAY/2nd June

Some places left in my pop up choir – workshop session to learn the songs, Sunday 29th May, 2-5pm, Catholic Church Hall in Easingwold. Performance at the lighting of the jubilee beacon, Millfield park, Easingwold, at 9.30pm on the 2nd June. Email me on jessaliversidge@googlemail.com to book your place.

2nd June and 5th June – private performances for Rosevale and Connaught Court care homes in York

Saturday 11th June – Bay Horse, Masham, 7.30

I am delighted to have my first performance booked in to sing at this lovely pub in the gorgeous town of Masham. I’ll be singing some classic pop – Carole King, Carpenters, Cilla, Annie Lennox, Alison Moyet and SO much more. I’ll even be bringing my loop pedal for some looping and layering fun.

Sunday 19th June, 1.30pm – ALNE STREET FAYRE

After my debut at the street fayre last year, I am really excited to be performing at this very popular event again. I’ll be outside on the village hall stage from 1.30-2.20, singing a wide range of popular songs which will include some loopy moments too!

Friday 24th June – Sharow Prom with Ripon City Band

This will be my first performance with Ripon City Band and, having had my first rehearsal with them last week, I know the audience is in for a treat. Lots of popular songs from stage and screen and all the prom favourites to finish. I do believe all the tickets have already been sold for this, but if you’re interested in coming along, do check with the band in case more tickets have become available. There’s an article about the concert here.

That’s all for now! I will add any further events in as and when they are confirmed. My choirs are open for new singers from after half term – places available to sing with me in Helmsley and Easingwold on Monday and Wednesday evenings – and Singing For All is always open to new singers and volunteers – do get in touch for more details!

Bye for now

Jessa xx

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Jessa’s Singing Larks – 100th #fieldsing and other news

Yes, I did it.

100 weeks of singing outside in all weathers.

Sunshine and snow, rain and wind – I have sung through it all.

Here is the 100th #fieldsing – it can also be found on my singer page on Facebook here.

That was of course a week ago, so this morning I performed my 101st fieldsing – do look it up on Facebook, Youtube or Instagram if you would like to hear my full version of “Blowin in the wind.” (short clip here as a taster.)

What’s coming up?

Lots!

Choirs are all continuing IN REAL LIFE and there are lots of opportunities to sing with me – whether in the daytime or evening, whether in Easingwold, York, Helmsley or Thirsk…or online from wherever you are. Two of my groups are performing at the Community Choir Festival at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre this coming week, and several more are taking part in my next LET OUR VOICES UNITE event at Easingwold Galtres Centre on 25th May. In both these events, several of my own songs will be performed by choirs – something I am quite proud of, considering that before July 2020 I had never written a song. Another of this week’s activities has been working on another of my songs, this time one to perform myself….that may be shared at some point!

I have been busy compiling some “highlights” videos for Songbirds and Some Enchanted Sondheim, ready to send out to possible venues. I already have some performances booked in for the Autumn(details to follow!) but there is room for plenty more, so if you have connections with any performance spaces, do get in touch, as we would love to spread the joy of our shows further this year. In any case, do enjoy the clips below….

…and finally…..

Thank you for reading, and listening. I really appreciate all the likes, shares, and encouraging comments that have come my way recently, it makes all the difference.

Jessa xx

PS Sunday update – I have just finished the Vocal Health Education Funamental Anatomy course! This has been fascinating, a detailed look at all the human anatomy related to singing…which is most of it!

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Jessa’s Singing Larks – Autumn into Advent

Day 1 of my Advent Songbird Challenge

The show must go on…..and it did

I thought a website update was well overdue, as so much has gone on since my Summer update. Several performances were planned in new(to me) venues, which I went ahead with despite the sad loss of my dad on October 12th. (Thank you to everyone who sent kind messages and cards, they were much appreciated x)

Somehow, performing was therapy of a kind – musical mindfulness, which helped me keep going and process the changes in my family. Songbirds played to enthusiastic audiences in Billingham(Billingham Theatre Upstairs) and York(Theatre@41, Monkgate), and Malcolm and I were delighted to refresh “Some Enchanted Sondheim” at Saltburn Community Theatre.

I am really keen to get both those shows on the road in 2022, finding more suitable venues further afield, and adapting Some Enchanted Sondheim to reflect the recent sad death of Sondheim himself. His work holds such truth, telling stories and portraying situations like no other. Below is an excerpt from our Saltburn performance….

Loving You and I wish I could forget you from Passion

Advent Songbird Challenge

You will see at the top of this post that I have set myself another ambitious Advent challenge this year! Last year, I performed Christmas songs every day to raise awareness(and funds) to keep Singing For All going through the dark days of only being able to run sessions online.

This year, a different challenge.

In 2022, as I mentioned above, I hope to take my “Songbirds” and “Some Enchanted Sondheim” one-woman shows on the road, spreading my performing wings further afield and finding new audiences for these labours of love. This all takes time….and money of course.

Cue another of my “little ideas”…

Every day, from December 1st to 24th, I aim to broadcast on Facebook (on my singer page here ) one festive song and another song from one of the shows. I kicked proceedings off yesterday with a looped up version of “God rest ye merry gentlemen” and “Songbird”. Many and varied songs will follow, and for those not on Facebook , they will all be shared on my YouTube channel and Instagram page too.

Anyone who would like to throw a few coins in the busking hat to support my 2022 plans, can do so here via PayPal. Every little helps!

CHOIRS ARE BACK(and here to stay!)

Yes, choirs are definitely back. My September “Let our voices unite” concert at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York announced this loud and clear, with superb participation from my Community Singers, York Military Wives Choir, and Wigginton Singstars, as well as wonderful support as always from my accompanist Malcolm Maddock. I even included a short #loopingaround set to demonstrate some of the new skills I had developed in 2020.

Now I have all my choirs and singing groups up and running, and all heading towards their own festive performances and events, as well as just relishing the joy of singing together and lifting our spirits though song. The benefits of singing together are well-documented, and I am convinced that taking part gives our immune systems a boost as well as our mental health. So all my groups are going ahead, with windows or doors open for ventilation, chairs spaced out, masks for mingling, and clean hands….but with our hearts warmed and our voices united.

My head is full of possible singing plans for 2022, with ideas for repertoire, possible events, concerts, and workshops buzzing around alongside all the many festive songs which are in there constantly! Watch this space for more details…..but there are definitely some more “Come and Sing” events on the cards.

Below – the inspiring “Like the rainbow” by Debbie Warren, our concert finale. See Debbie’s work here.

My combined choirs perform “Like the Rainbow” by Debbie Warren, at “Let our Voices Unite” , Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York.

All my groups currently have spaces, and I am happy to welcome new singers in the New Year…..so if you’d like to sing with me at any of the days/times/locations below, get in touch! All the groups have different systems for payments, membership, etc, as well as different starting dates, so just drop me a message and I can let you know the details.

SING WITH JESSA IN 2022

Mondays at 11, Easingwold – Singing For All with Jessa

Mondays at 7, Helmsley – HAC Community Choir

Tuesdays at 11, York – Singing For All with Jessa

Wednesdays at 7, Easingwold(and online, for those further afield!) – Community Singers with Jessa

Thursdays at 9,30am, Thirsk – Butterflies Choir

Thursdays at 7, York – York Military Wives Choir (for anyone with a military connection)

A choir for everyone!

A final word -for anyone local to York or Easingwold -I have a few festive events coming up…

Christmas At The Galtres, Easingwold,

Saturday 11th December, 7.30

https://fb.me/e/1Nv0sGpU1

A Christmas Concert with The Yorkshire Tenor and York Military Wives Choir, All Saints Church, Pocklington, Saturday 18th December, 4pm

…and on the evening of Monday 20th December, an atmospheric, festive come and sing event at The Mill, Stillingon….details to be confirmed, but a warm atmosphere guaranteed, whatever the weather! (Keep an eye on their website here.…)

…..I am also singing at the St Leonard’s Hospice “Light up a life” event at Selby Abbey on Sunday 12th December at 4pm, to which all are welcome.

Thanks for reading, and do look out for my daily Advent Songbird posts – all likes, comments and shares are much appreciated! Don’t forget, my #fieldsing continues every Saturday, live on Facebook (usually around 10am) – this Saturday will be #fieldsing 89!

Keep singing,

Jessa xx

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Jessa’s Singing Larks – Summer to September

So here we are in August. June and July have passed by in a whirlwind of performances and outdoor choir sessions in all weathers…..some highlights are below.

Another highlight was busking in Easingwold as part of their Summer of Music events – the first in person outing for my beloved loop pedal! See the Easingwold Advertiser write-up below, and a short clip of one of my favourite songs to loop…..

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AUTUMN EVENTS – DIARY TIME!

Lots happening in the Autumn – in person groups re-starting, and lots of performances to choose from. See the links or get in touch to find out more. I’d love to see you!

SUNDAY 5TH SEPTEMBER – ALNE STREET FAYRE – I am performing on the Village Hall stage at 1.30 and 3.30.

https://www.alnestreetfayre.co.uk/

THURSDAY 16TH SEPTEMBER – “LET OUR VOICES UNITE” at The Joseph Rowntree Theatre, York. A celebration of the return of singing, with performances myself and 3 of my wonderful choirs. Tickets available from 8th August.

https://www.josephrowntreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/concert/let-our-voices-unite/1463

SATURDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER – EASINGWOLD MARKETPLACE, my next busking performance as part of the Summer of Music programme. 1pm-3pm.

SATURDAY 16TH OCTOBER – SOME ENCHANTED SONDHEIM, Saltburn Community Arts . A performance of our much-loved Sondheim/Hammerstein compilation show, with accompaniment by Malcolm Maddock. Tickets available soon.

http://saltburnarts.co.uk

SUNDAY 24TH OCTOBER – SONGBIRDS at Billingham Theatre Upstairs. A celebration of female musical legends, with accompaniment by Malcolm Maddock. Tickets available soon.

http://www.billinghamplayers.co.uk/

SUNDAY 7TH NOVEMBER – SONGBIRDS at 41Monkgate, York. A celebration of female musical legends, with accompaniment by Malcolm Maddock. Tickets now available!

https://tickets.41monkgate.co.uk/events/475182af-4d18-4e5a-bb7e-8ba5c732c2d1/booking

CHOIRS AND GROUPS –

SING IN PERSON WITH JESSA

Community Singers (Easingwold) – for those able to take part in the concert on 16th September, sessions start on Wednesday 1st September. (Get in touch asap if you would like to be a part of this!) For others wanting to take part, the doors will open from Wednesday 22nd September, but places must be booked in advance. Get in touch to get your name on the list.

Singing For All(Easingwold) – I aim to restart on Monday 6th September. Do get in touch to book your place or find out more details.

Singing For All(York) – This is dependent on the venue availablility, but we are hoping to restart from mid September, on Tuesdays at 11am – do get in touch to book your place or ask any questions.

If you are interested in choirs in Helmsley or Thirsk, do get in touch as those will be starting up too. One to one lessons online or in person will also be starting – these are fully booked at the moment, but if you would like to register your interest, do get in touch using the contact form.

That’s all for now folks! Do look out for my “seasing” posts during August – I hope to record several of these while on holiday, as well as my weekly #fieldsing posts of course!

Keep safe and keep singing everyone.

Jessa xx

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Jessa’s Singing Larks June 2021

Just a quick update as I realised I hadn’t written one of these for a while…..busy busy as always, and June looks to be more hectic than ever! So for now, just a quick rundown of where you can hear me perform, or sing with me, this coming month.

I have just finished a whole day of in person singing with York youngsters, which was fantastic! So lovely to sing with these young people in person, some of whom I had only worked with previously online. Check out the York Music Hub social media for pictures of the day…….here.

COMMUNITY SINGERS – OUTSIDE AND ONLINE!

June brings the return of outdoor/online sessions for my Wednesday community singers. I can’t wait to see them all and am just hoping for good weather as the government restrictions do not allow for more than 6 singers to shelter inside. Quite ridiculous when you consider what is allowed to go on. If you agree, please sign this petition.

I have a lovely group signed up for Community Singers, but I have a few spaces if anyone else wants to join in, either outside(in Easingwold) or online(from anywhere!) 4 Wednesday evenings from 9th June, 7pm, £20. Get in touch if you fancy joining us!

SINGING FOR ALL…online for now

Singing for all continues online for now, with Mondays on YouTube and zoom on Tuesdays at 11am continuing from 7th/8th June. All are welcome to join us for an hour of informal singing and chat – please get in touch if you would like to take part. I am looking at some options for possibly getting together in July “in real life” but it will depend on restrictions and how people feel.

fields and lanes – live At The Mill, 26th June

Mick and I are delighted to be performing fields and lanes live at Stillington Mill as part of the “Summer at the mill” programme of music and theatre. The setting is absolutely beautful and tickets are available here.

https://www.tickettailor.com/events/atthemill/512172

SAGESTREAM session

I am delighted to be involved in a 2 week trial of sessions aimed at the more mature generations, run by an organisaation called SAGESTREAM in the USA. I will be performing a session on Monday 28th June in the evening (UK time) , live from the NAAP Facebook page. See more information here….

LIVE IN EASINGWOLD MARKETPLACE

The first Saturday in July, I am performing LIVE in Easingwold Marketplace as part of their Summer of Music plans. The town council has arranged a wide selection of musicians to come and busk in the centre of town, for the enjoyment of those sitting outside at cafes or just walking by, and it is my turn on SATURDAY 3RD JULY. So do pop by between 1pm and 3pm, I have as always a wide selection of songs for everyone to enjoy. Whether I will be allowed to encourage audience participation by then is not clear…..maybe humming!

Alongside all this, I am continuing with all my other activities : my one to one students, York Military Wives Choir (again, weather permitting!), teaching music at Wigginton Primary, and now and again even seeing my family! Thanks for reading folks. This was meant to be a simple list of dates but, as always, brevity is not my forte.

Hope to sing for/with you soon,

Jessa x

PS Here’s me teaching my latest composition to a choir in Australia!

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Jessa’s Singing Larks April 2021

After a couple of weeks of a less busy schedule (much of it spent writing songs and notating ones I had written a while ago!), next week my singing larks begin in earnest.

Singing For All with Jessa CIC is back with a swing, with sessions on YouTube on Monday and zoom on Tuesday, both at 11am. These will continue for 7 weeks (apart from the bank holiday Monday!) and I am looking forward to seeing some of the gang again, as well as welcoming any new singers who want to join the fun. Singing For All may well be the last of my activities to be able to return “in person” so it is really important that I recruit as many people as possible to these online sessions, to help keep the groups going and make sure I can continue.

Did you know that Singing For All had its very own facebook and instagram pages? If you don’t already follow, do search “Singing For All with Jessa” and give us a like/follow.

Some of my lovely singing students are starting this coming week, others are starting the following week. I am looking forward to singing with them all and working on some new songs and targets. Some of these young singers have been working with me on zoom for over a year and it is amazing the progress they have made. The exciting thing is, I am going to be teaching back in school from next week, so will be able to hear some of my budding singers and pianists IN REAL LIFE. (through masks and screens, but still in real life!) Very exciting!

Here is my little zoom highlights video I prepared for our “virtual recital” at the end of last term. I think it captures some lovely moments, including me preparing my zoom face!

Community Singers Online had a sea-faring March , enjoying some wonderful sea-themed songs, including raucous shanties and some more reflective ones. We finished with a fun “shanty shindig” on the 31st March, and everyone was sent a shindig party bag with themed snacks, props, and instructions on how to make a sailor hat! Great fun was had by all, including me, as can be seen in the highlights video ….

Community Singers Online have an extra week off, to give me a chance to prepare some new songs…. I can’t wait to see the gang on Wednesday 21st April. I even have some new songs ready to start which I have written myself….I hope they like singing them as much as I do!

So lots of singing ahead…. very happy to be able to spend my time doing what I love. I will also be spending time scouring the country for suitable venues for “Fields and Lanes” and “Songbirds” for performances through 2021, as restrictions ease and these things are allowed again. I spent a bit of time today picking some highlights of “Fields and lanes” for a taster video…. so I’ll leave you with that! (If any of you can put us in touch with any suitable venues near you, do get in touch! Fields and Lanes and Songbirds can travel!)

I hope to sing for or with you all sometime soon, whether in real life or on our screens.

#keepsinging

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Jessa’s Fieldsinging Larks March 2021

On 28th March 2020, with all my forthcoming performances and choir sessions cancelled, even outdoor park sings, I had the idea of sharing a solo “field sing” on Facebook, with me singing a well known song for people to enjoy listening to or singing along with at home.

Here I am….

This seemed to go down quite well with online followers, friends, and my choir singers, and even inspired one of my “Singing For All” group, Harry Waterworth, to create a watercolour fieldsinger portrait! I was so touched by this and I think he captured my first fieldsing really well. This first #fieldsing now has over 2300 views on Facebook.

“Singing in a field” by Harry Waterworth

So I decided to continue – the next week I recorded “You’ve got a friend”, then “Wild Mountain Thyme”, “My love is like a red red rose” and “Fields of gold”. These were all pre-recorded then posted on Facebook and You Tube at 10am each Saturday morning.

Then in week 6, something changed……I had had a particularly busy week (if I remember rightly ,it was the week I performed a 26 song singathon for Dementia Forward!) and hadn’t had a chance to think about recording a song. So , for the first time, I performed the field sing live! This meant a little added pressure and a few nerves, but also it added something special to the event and I had lots of positive comments about the heightened armosphere of a live performance. I also really enjoyed seeing a few people join in live, reacting and commenting as I sang. The field sing idea was never intended to be a “perfect performance” but a natural one, singing with the birds, in all weathers. Here is the first “live” #fieldsing – “The fields of Athenry”.

The first truly live field sing!

Since then, I have never looked back.

Every Saturday, whatever the weather, I have gone outside, to fields, lanes, woods, and performed whatever song seemed apt at the time. Some weeks I have a song in mind all week, some weeks I decide 5 minutes before I leave the house or even as I walk to the field!

Some weeks, I chat for a while about my week, and any forthcoming events that people can get involved with ; other weeks I don’t feel like chatting much so will quickly get on to the chosen song.

Some weeks, I feel upbeat and energetic – others more reflective, and the song choices reflect this. I decided to record all the field sing choices I have done so far to mark the 50th #fieldsing last Saturday- here is the list…

  1. Lean on me
  2. You’ve got a friend
  3. Wild Mountain Thyme
  4. My love is like a red, red rose
  5. Fields of gold
  6. Fields of Athenry
  7. It’s a lovely day tomorrow / Look for the silver lining
  8. My favourite mash-up!
  9. She moved through the fair
  10. Alfie
  11. Catch the wind
  12. Sing / Teach the world to sing
  13. When you’re smiling
  14. Blackbird / In my life
  15. Edelweiss / A bell is no bell
  16. Yesterday once more
  17. I have a dream
  18. Songbird
  19. World of our own
  20. Top of the world
  21. Keep right on to the end of the road
  22. We sing
  23. Somewhere
  24. Those who wish to sing
  25. I wish I knew how it would feel to be free
  26. Beautiful
  27. Some kind of wonderful
  28. Stand by me
  29. Danny Boy
  30. A little peace
  31. Spread a little happiness
  32. Love me tender
  33. May your cup always be full
  34. My love my life
  35. California Dreaming
  36. Happy Wanderer
  37. In the bleak mid winter
  38. Mary, did you know?
  39. The angel Gabriel
  40. Something inside so strong
  41. The water is wide
  42. Hey Jude
  43. Bridge over troubled water
  44. Drunken Sailor / Sailing
  45. I have a dream
  46. You’ll never walk alone
  47. Falling in love with you
  48. Lovely day
  49. After the rain
  50. LEAN ON ME

..It was only when I went to write all the songs down that I realised I had performed “I have a dream” twice! But no apologies for the repetition of my first #fieldsing choice, “Lean on me” for my 50th week. Bill Withers’ lyrics are so so relevant…..

“lean on me, when you’re not strong, I’ll be your friend, I’ll help you carry on, for, it won’t be long , ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”

#fieldsing 50 – a repeat of lean on me, with a list of all the songs performed so far #inafield

The whole fieldsing idea has prompted me towards other online singing projects and challenges. While away in Norfolk last Summer, I performed morning #seasongs for 5 consecutive days on my solo walks.

Leading up to Christmas, I performed a song live every day in December for my #Adventsingalong in aid of Singing For All, helping me to raise funds to keep Singing For All with Jessa CIC going through these lean times.

These structured routines of singing at particular times have really kept me going. Although I am generally very lucky with my health, like most people, I have had rough times and down days through all this. But each Saturday, I know I am going to get up and out to sing. Having this expectation of myself has really helped keep me motivated – and we all know that singing makes you feel better!

It is so true for me, and from some of the encouraging comments I have had, the fieldsings have had an uplifting effect on listeners too.

All this has also led to an exciting collaboration with my better half, my actor husband Mick, who has been reciting poetry down country lanes throughout the lockdowns. Together, we have created a show inspired by our outdoor performance, “Fields and lanes”, which we are very excited to be performing at Helmsley Arts Centre this Saturday – a live stream performance. Although I regularly perform live on You Tube and Facebook, the idea of performing our full show in an empty theatre is a strange thought…

Any any case, we are both very excited about it and hope that lots of our friends will be buying tickets to tune in and support. This time, we have also recruited some more performers to the outdoor performing craze, with our creative fields and lanes project! These fellow actors and singers will be appearing in the show virtually and it has been really moving to put together their contributions and to collaborate with them. These colleagues are wide-ranging ; they hail from all over the country from Essex to the North-East, and range from experienced professional performers to avocational singers seeking a new experience. It has been so valuable to have every one of them on board and to spread the joy of performing outdoors. If you would like to join us, here’s how…

https://www.helmsleyarts.co.uk/whats-on/fields-and-lanes-livestream-from-hac

Sometime on Saturday, will be #fieldsing 51….leading up to a full year of field singing and a full year of online singing performances, classes and lessons . A year which has seen me develop and embrace so many different skills and ways of working.

My next step will be to negotiate the next 6 months….continuing to use all I have learned and continuing to engage people from a wide area, while gradually reintroducing “real life” aspects of my work.

A huge challenge…watch this space for developments!

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Jessa’s Singing Larks February 2021

Every week has its challenges at the moment. I am very lucky in that I spend my time doing things I love – singing and helping others to find joy in singing – but nothing is straightforward at the moment and it is difficult to maintain a routine or plan ahead very far. So when little surprises happen, and when things I have been “nervcited” about work out well, it is particularly pleasing….

Surprise announcement – award nominations!

For the past year, all I have been doing is trying to keep doing what I do, in whatever way I can.

*For my singing students, this has meant teaching them 100% online via zoom (This has its challenges, but I can honestly say I enjoy teaching this way and all my students have risen to it and are making fantastic progress!)

*For my work in school(I still work 1.5 days a week for Wigginton Primary School, teaching music and leading singing), this has involved some working in school with bubbles, and lots of cold and wet outdoor singing, as well as many many videos of singing sessions and music lessons.

*For my work with York Music Hub, I have absolutely loved doing the live singing sessions(YMHSing! and Singing For All @The hub) and the YMH Zoom choirs, as well as my Summer holiday youth choir project – seeing those young faces on screen, enjoying singing as much as I do, is so inspiring!

*For my other singing leading and performing work, this has meant taking everything online and/or outside – zoom choirs, You Tube lives, Facebook performances, fieldsing, masked outdoor sings….all in a quest to keep people singing and keep my own singing going.

All this has meant a huge learning process for me – as well as fitting in lots of actual training (including 3 weeks of Vocal Process Online Singing Teacher Training and the Vocal Health First Aider certificate with Vocal Health Education), I have learned so much from fellow singing leaders around the world, particularly from the Creative Choir Leader group and the Inspire Club. So many new skills that I never thought I’d need.

I have done all this, just to get on with my work in whatever way I can, so I was so surprised and delighted to find out last week that I had been nominated for two Music and Drama Education Awards!

I have been nominated and short-listed in two categories…..here are the descriptions from the #MEDAWARDS website…

The #GOLDSTARS award…

“UK teachers who have gone above and beyond during this extraordinary period in educational history. For music or drama teachers who have shown particular compassion, flair and creativity during the pandemic. “

The Francesca Hanley Inspiration Award, sponsored by the Musicians’ Union.

“This award honours an individual music teacher or performer who has had a hugely inspirational impact on students of any age in their music-making. The judges will be looking for evidence that this teacher has made or continues to make a real and significant difference to the lives of their students through their teaching, whether in a school or non-school setting.”

This was such a lovely surprise and it has given me a real boost, especially as the nomination has come from a music teacher I admire and respect so much as a colleague and friend. Very humbling.

When words fail, music speaks….a day at #virtualchoirlab!

As a musician with many and varied roles, I often feel like I am dipping my toes into the water with all my various work – never having enough time and energy to devote to any one area to make a real difference. My fairly mad schedule of contrasting work means that I never get bored! At various times in the week, I am a singer, a singing teacher, a choir leader, a singing leader, a music teacher…….but the area I feel like I have grown the most during this past year is that of choir leader.

A year ago, I was running several choirs a week, undertaking regular training and workshops, and confident in my own circles. But in the past year, as well as setting up SFA as “Singing For All with Jessa CIC’, I have grown so much in my confidence and skillset when running my community singing sessions with both adults and young people, and have developed an array of technical equipment and strategies I hadn’t dreamed of a year ago.

Like most people, I still have technical disasters every now and again, but I have to pinch myself when people ask me how to use a loop pedal or how to edit a video – yes, this actually happens sometimes!

So when creative choir leader fellow #inspireclubber Matthew Finch was looking for workshop leaders for his virtual day of singing, “Virtual Choirlab”, I put myself forward and was amazed to be selected, with my “Sing your cares away” session scheduled alongside a huge array of very experienced singing leaders!

When the day arrived, I was pretty excited but fairly nervous, especially as I was scheduled for 3.30pm and had the whole day to watch other people’s sessions while practising my own! The day started with everyone learning a new round written by Matt, “When words fail, music speaks” – hence the mug picture above! If you click on the lyrics in the heading at the top, you will see the result of that opening session – a beautiful combined performance.

It was actually really lovely to see the wide range of singing leading talent on show….from gospel to classical and jazz, pop tunes to musical theatre and family favourites, so much….and as I watched, those voices were bubbling gently in my head…. one saying, “What are you thinking of? You are nowhere near the level of these high flyers!” and the other, “You really can do this!”

3.30 came and the session went as well as I could have hoped, even better really. As soon as I started, familiar names popped up on my screen as friendly creative choir leaders added encouraging comments – that really helped me find my flow! (Thanks Mary for this one!)

I was able to share some of my current favourite rounds and songs with a group of singers and singing leaders from all over the country – accompanied by my new best friend(my loop pedal!), I layered up songs and harmonies so people could sing along with their chosen part. I even included some of the little songs I have written myself – my new “Sing your cares away” song which incorporates lots of warm-up exercises into a bouncy song, and the calming sea-themed round, ‘Breathe with the waves” which I wrote on the beach in Norfolk.

I was also able to celebrate the work of some of my fellow singing leaders by sharing some of their songs….”Reap” by Em Whitfield Brooks , “Sing out loud” by Louise Blackburn, “Cold Wild Sea” by Jenny Cook, and my current favourite song, “Good Friend” by the late Jan Harmon. Such a beautiful melody and touching words….

Well, my writing/admin/catch up time is nearly over, 5 students and choir are calling me…..so I will finish with these thought-provoking words.

“The singer lasts a season long while the song, it lasts forever.”

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Jessa’s Singing Larks 23rd January

No smashed plates, but one broken spoon!

Well, this has been my first week with all my plates spinning, and I can say with confidence that I haven’t smashed any yet! Highlights of the week include my first YMHSing session on Monday, the first virtual singstars session on Friday, and the launch of my new series, #roundandround.

Singing For All with Jessa – a new artistic contribution from Harry!

My Monday Singing For All session on You Tube included some of the usual favourite songs and mash-ups, but some new choices proved popular – “Football crazy” brought back memories for some, and “This old hammer” proved soothing. The round “Whose pigs are these” even inspired our resident Singing For All artist to create another masterpiece….

“The Pig Song” by Harry Waterworth, in response to “Whose pigs are these?”

Here’s the session for anyone who wants to catch up – and do share with anyone who might be interested in joining us for Singing For All – either live or at their own convenience. You Tube sessions are on Mondays at 11 and zoom Singing For All is on Tuesdays at the same time. Singing for all now has its own Facebook and Instagram pages – do look up “Singing For All With Jessa CIC” and give SFA a like or follow to help spread the singing joy.

YMHSing! – a new session for York Music Hub

Monday saw my first YMHSing! session for York Music Hub. I feel a special kind of energy in these live sessions – the idea that people are singing along with me at home, responding to what I do, without me actually seeing them. I am doing weekly singing and music lesson videos for Wigginton Primary too and it is quite wonderful to see photos and videos of the youngsters singing along to me – often with me on their TV screen! This week I have seen several videos of young singers singing and dancing along to “throw catch” while throwing teddy bears in the air – so lovely.

A year ago I would not have predicted that this is what I would be doing several times a week! These YMHSing sessions are lively and fun – for me and hopefully for those taking part. I would say these are suitable for the young and the young at heart. Some whole families are enjoying joining in together which makes a change from everyone sitting at their own individual devices working from home.

Here’s the first session – I am live on the York Music Hub channel at 4pm on the next 3 Mondays so do tune in if you can.

https://youtu.be/1_IRymqjn0g

Round and round and round….

It occurred to me this week just how much I use rounds in my sessions, whoever I am working with. They are such an easy way to achieve harmony with groups and I absolutely LOVE using my new favourite toy – my loop pedal – to perform the rounds myself. Recently, I have started writing a few songs, and many of these have been rounds. So I decided to start another little series of videos! Not wanting to put more pressure on my already busy schedule, I haven’t set any promises about how often I will upload the rounds, but by the end of January I hope to have quite a collection on the way. Just two in there so far – here is the first…I am trying to post each one on Facebook, YouTube , Twitter, and Instagram, so do make sure you are subscribing/following/liking my pages on there to keep up with the rounds and everything else I am up to. All likes and shares are much appreciated!

Field sings continue – with a sea theme for number 44!

Every Saturday, for 44 weeks in a row, I have performed a song outdoors for #fieldsing. I am quite proud of this! So many people have been in touch with me to say how much they have appreciated my outdoor singing(and Mick’s outdoor poetry), especially those who have not been able to get out much, or those who are missing their real life singing groups. I am sure there are still more people who would enjoy singing along with me and the real songbirds in all weathers, so I will continue. Each week, I get closer to the magic number of 52 when it will be a full year of weekly fieldsings! I am already considering what I will do for that one – it will have to be something special I think for the fieldsing birthday party. Fingers crossed for good weather that day.

This morning, the weather was perfect – chilly but crisp and still. I performed a sea shanty – What shall we do with the drunken sailor – complete with bucket bashing….and if you watch to the end, you will find out what happened to my poor wooden spoon…. all part of the fun of live videos!

Virtual choirlab….. and other chances to sing with me

Anyone who would like to join in with my Singing Larks, there are loads of opportunities, from the live You Tube sessions to the more interactive zoom sessions. Do get in touch via the contact page if you fancy having a go at Singing For All or Community Singers Online.

I am delighted to be one of the many singing leaders involved in a really exciting event next Sunday – VIRTUAL CHOIRLAB!

This is a whole day of singing workshops, with a huge range of styles and genres from family sessions and community choirs to classical, jazz and gospel. The sessions are all taking place on You Tube via secure links, and all the sessions are available afterwards for those who book – so you could do a couple of the sessions on the day then catch up with others at your leisure! Here is the website to find out all about it and book your place if you fancy it – Matt Finch, who is running the event, has described it as “ChoirTV” which is running all day – for you to dip in and out of sessions as you please.

https://mypubchoir.wixsite.com/virtualchoirlab

I hope you have enjoyed reading about my singing larks for this week. I am so grateful to all of you who are taking part in my larks in some way – whether that is joining a singing session online, watching a field sing, or just liking or sharing a post or a You Tube video. You are all helping me spread the singing joy and helping me to keep doing what I am doing.

Thank you!

Jessa xx

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Jessa’s Singing Larks – singing into 2021

2021 promises to be full of song – but initially, 100% online.

(Apart from my weekly #fieldsing of course!)

So much is happening over the next few weeks…..I need to take a few deep breaths before diving headfirst into this songfest…..but I can’t wait to sing with everyone again! (via my screen of course)

Singing For All with Jessa CIC

I am determined to keep Singing for all going, however I can, through these lockdowns and restrictions, and I am so grateful to those individuals and organisations who have contributed to our “Advent Singalong” campaign during December to help with this.

The York SFA folks celebrating their 1st birthday in January 2020!

Now, in these online times, distance is no object, and anyone from Easingwold or York, Birmingham or Brisbane (or anywhere else!) is welcome to join in with our lively Singing For All online sessions. There is no need for any amazing musical skills -if you enjoy singing and want to connect with others, you are welcome! We sing a huge range of songs, from folk to pop, show songs to rounds and mash-ups, and we don’t rehearse songs or learn complicated parts – we just sing songs for the fun of it. A singalong – in one session we might get though anything from 15-20 different songs!

Monday sessions take place on You Tube Live, at 11am. Just tune in to my channel at 11 and I will appear! Here is the very first session – my first ever live session online, back in March 2020. A scary moment, and I have grown so much in my confidence and skill level since then – but still a fun singalong for anyone who wants it. All the sessions are left on afterwards for people to sing along to any time.

The Tuesday Singing For All sessions are held on zoom, again at 11am. Anyone who signs up is sent a secure link which they just have to click on to take part, and all you need is a computer, tablet or phone, and an internet connection.

Do help by spreading the Singing For All word – many of my singers, whether they are living with dementia, caring for a loved one, feeling isolated or down, have found the sessions a lifeline during 2020. Sharing songs with others, connecting – even if it is via a screen or chat box – is SO valuable at this time. DO get in touch via the contact page if you want to give it a try or know someone who might.

I have just set up Singing For All’s own social media pages today – here are the links to the SFA Instagram and Facebook pages – please like and share!

Singing For All With Jessa CIC – Instagram

Singing For All With Jessa CIC – Facebook

Community Singers Online

I am really looking forward to seeing my Wednesday crew again, after a few weeks off for Christmas and New Year. This group is a lovely mixture of people from my “real life” choirs in Easingwold and Helmsley, and others from far and wide who have joined the online group. The group is around 20 so far, and there are places for more to join – do get in touch if you fancy giving it a try!

I am very excited about starting some of the new songs I have prepared for the group – a wide range, from emotional pieces about the joy of singing, to wild pop mash ups and silly rounds. My multi part tracks are ready and my loop pedal is polished, ready to create that “choir” feel for everyone singing on their own from home!

CSO sessions are on Wednesdays at 7, running for just over an hour, with a virtual tea break in the middle – if you are camera shy, this is optional! So you can choose to stay and chat or go and get an actual cup of real tea. (or glass of wine!) Here’s a little taster of one of the songs we are starting this week…

As well as these two groups, there are lots more singing-related activities continuing or starting in the next week – people often ask how I manage to do so many different things! The answer is often, “only just”, and with a very carefully managed diary…

So many different work streams, with different preparation, different types of groups and activities. But I love them all and wouldn’t actually want to give any of them up. Another point to consider is that music is how I earn a living – through teaching singing and music, performing, and leading choirs and groups. Any one of those currently would not pay the bills on its own! So many community musicians like myself have a similar “portfolio” of work – and of course, I never have a chance to get bored!

So my aim for the next 5 weeks is to get all the musical plates spinning, and to pace myself, try to get outside and walk whenever I can, try to pay some attention to my poor husband and teenage children who do get neglected in these busy periods…….and hope I make it to half term with no smashed plates!

Here’s a picture of my week ahead…see you at the other side!

Jessa’s week….