Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Your Pop-Up Proms Needs YOU (whether you sing or not)

My last blog posting contained a bit of detail for the volunteers wanting to sing and perform. This post is for the volunteers doing the other -equally important- stuff.

As you know, The Pop-Up Proms Project is a smiley happy voluntary thingy which I hope will bring as many positive benefits to the volunteers as it will to our audiences. The project has two main thrusts.

'"THRUST" that's a good word, isn't it? "THRUST"'(-one for the 'Miranda' fans...)

The two THRUSTS are:
1) The giving of free entertainment to elderly people in homes and day centres, and all the attached benefits to those people, such as social interaction, a bit of fun, gentle exercise, and sharing reminiscences.
2) The Audio Archive- collecting and recording the memories evoked by the music.

For those wishing to volunteer but not currently (or ever!) performing, there are various things which need to be done in order to achieve both THRUSTS of the project.

Here's a list. Please do let me know which of these you might feel comfortable doing...
  • coming along and not doing a solo performance, but mingling as part of the audience and joining in to help get everyone else going in the joiny-inny bits.
  • coming along to chat informally to audience members about the music, and encouraging them to think about memories and associations they may have to these, or any other, songs (ie "Is this a song you've heard before? Is it a favourite of yours? What was the first record you bought? etc).
  • occasionally using a small digital audio recording device to record some of the recollections for the archive as you chat- with the permission of the participants, of course... 
  • gently hassling people beforehand to donate red, white and blue stuff like bunting, flags or balloons for us to decorate the rooms with for performances.
  • helping decorating the rooms before performances- nothing fancy; about ten minutes of putting up a bit of bunting and arranging some chairs.
  • photocopying lyrics sheets for the audience.
  • pressing 'play' on the CD player.
  • mentioning The Pop-Up Proms Project to people when appropriate, to help get us a few more bookings.
  • anything else helpful you can think of! 
If these things sound feasible, please let me know. And if at any point you decide you'd like to have a go at performing after all - brilliant!

As always, email me or send an FB message if you have any questions. Or, let's be radical, you could even phone me direct!

'THRUST. Ooh, its gone weird now...'

Monday, 26 August 2013

Important Stuff Pop-Up Proms Performers Need To Know

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our first booking!

  • It will be on Friday 22nd November at Corton House in Norwich. Exact time tbc, but likely to be singing at about 7pm, for definitely no more than an hour.
  • The mood will be informal and jolly- they are REALLY looking forward to our visit!
Because we will have a different combination of performers available for each concert, each performer needs to be self sufficient.
  • This means, whatever you decide to sing, you will need to bring  your own backing track on cd.
  • Because Pop-Up Proms is a group of volunteers (once again, thank you all so much!) rather than a theatrical company, we won't have any rehearsals. I'm depending on all performers being experienced and confident enough to turn up, put on their cd track, and sing.
  • I will supply the CD player.
  • I would like performers to choose at least two songs to perform  (ones you're completely confident with)
  • At least one of your choices needs to have a participative element such as a chorus the audience can join in with, or clapping along, or doing actions...whatever floats your boat. It's your time to shine!
  • Your other song choices can be, again, whatever you're confident with. Any era as long as the song is really well known.
  • EXCEPTION: 1940s! Apparently our audiences have heard 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'Roll Out the Barrel', 'We'll Meet Again' and the like more times than they care to remember... No 40s stuff, thanks!
  • I will need to know what you'd like to sing about a week to ten days in advance so I can put together a rough running order for each concert.
  • In between your own songs I would really love all the performers to mingle in the audience and join in with the participative bits of other people's songs, and help get the audience going.

And finally...

When I was a teenager, about twenty something years ago, my own singing teacher took me and other pupils to many care homes for the elderly, to sing and entertain. It was a fabulous way to gain experience and confidence as a performer, in a relatively informal setting, and I've continued to sing to similar types of audience ever since.

During these concerts I learned many things.

One thing was, not to be put off by people falling asleep during your songs.
Another was not to be put off by people talking, loudly, and sometimes about you, while you're singing.
Another was that it's extremely humbling to do it (I know, people use that word too lightly, but in this case it's true). The residents in care homes are so pleased to see you bothering to come and entertain them.
These very elderly and sometimes very frail folk love seeing people who are younger and vibrant and smiley and happy.

If we can put aside the endless ifs and buts of putting a concert together for a moment, it really is just about turning up and singing.
And if, my dear, lovely performers, you come and give your time and your talents for these dear, lovely people, you won't regret it. I promise.

Any questions, email me or send me an FB message.

Thanks again for volunteering xx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pop Up Proms Project Audio Archive

I threatened to talk more about the reminiscencing aspect of the Pop-Up Proms Project last time. So to make good my threat, here's what's happening (hopefully).

Each time we perform we'll be building in time to talk to the people in the audience; after all, participation is what it's all about. I'll be asking the folks in the audience to tell us about any memories, feelings or associations the music may have stirred up, and I'll be making an audio recording of what they say (with their permission, of course).

What is the point of making these recordings?

  • This project is designed to help increase social interaction for our elderly audience members within their existing group.  Locally and individually, keeping evidence of a community project like this acts as a reminder for the participants and helps add to their sense of 'belonging' and shared identity.
  • Regionally, capturing reminiscences like this in audio 'snapshot' format is a way to gather original source material for local and social history museums and archives to hold and keep safe for generations to come. 
  • Having the opportunity to hear real voices singing and talking about real songs will help history seem more 'real' for pupils, students and teachers in the future. 

What will happen to these recordings?

At the moment there are two possibilities:

  • They'll be added to the Sound Archive at the Norfolk Records Office and held for posterity and educational purposes.
  • I'll continue to build links between this project and Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service- specifically, bringing an audio element to some planned work on the 1950s displays at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse. 


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What is The Pop-Up Proms Project?

The Pop Up Proms Project is something I've been thinking of doing for ages. Initially, I'll run it from September 2013 to the end of August 2014.

I've got together a group of performers who are all happy to offer their time and talent completely free, to go out to residential care homes and day-centres for the elderly people of Norfolk and have a good sing.

It's not designed as a performance where we sing and the audience applauds at the end. The whole point is for the audience to join in. For example,

You know the brilliant joiny-inny bit at the end of the Last Night Of The Proms? That.

Fans at a football match lustily serenading their team? That.

Finding yourself enjoyably warbling along to Songs Of Praise on the telly? That.

That is the spirit of what we're trying to do with Pop Up Proms. All of that joy and exuberance that a shared experience of music creates, that's what we want to create for our audiences.

So our aims are simple:
  • To provide free entertainment for the older ladies and gents in our county.
  • To provide the elderly with an opportunity for participation in uplifting singing in a relaxed and familiar environment.
  • To give opportunities for extra social interaction.
  • To give opportunities for personal reminiscences and sharing memories
There'll be more on that last one later.

I'll be using this blog as a notice board and information centre for performers and bookers alike, so do please come back for updates!