Since their launch last year, East Riding Libraries Cuppa and a Chorus group singing sessions have been a hit with residents across the area. When libraries were forced to close due to lockdown, the team worked with choirmaster Mark Howley to bring the sing-along online, and have received amazing feedback.
East Riding Libraries launched ‘Cuppa and a Chorus’ sessions in Beverley, Bridlington and Willerby Libraries in September 2019, with 95 people participating in the sessions across the locations every two weeks and each session fully booked.
The idea behind the sessions, led by experienced choirmaster Mark Howley from ‘Remarkable Arts’, is for members of the community to socialise, sing and enjoy music together in a relaxed setting - which has been proven to have a wide range of health benefits, including regulating heartbeat and improving mood. This is part of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s wider initiative to provide a holistic approach to health and social care, combatting social isolation and loneliness by providing free activities which promote positive health benefits in a safe location.
When lockdown was announced, libraries had to shut their doors and plan how the service could be used digitally, until a time when doors could safely reopen. This led to a surge in the number of residents downloading the thousands of free eBooks, eAudiobooks and eMagazines provided by the Library Service. However the team were also keen to explore whether any of the various social groups, which form a huge part of the Library experience for customers, could be taken online.
Choirmaster Mark Howley, with the help of his family, have recorded five Cuppa and a Chorus sing-a-long sessions so far, with a new one released every two weeks. The sessions are themed differently each week and incorporate breathing exercises and all the words, so anyone can join in.
The feedback from people who have watched the sessions has been very positive:
“Fabulous! I had a right boogie to these songs, really loosened up my bad back! Great fun. Can’t wait for the next one”: Christine
“Many thanks – the video was really nice to play and it cheered me up. Hope you will do some more during the lockdown while we can't go out to sing together”: Sue
“Really enjoyed it, thank you so much, even my husband joined in”: Lyn
Sue said the following:
“I did session Three with my five year old granddaughter last week in Sheffield in the bubble, and she loved it. Back in Bridlington now, so will do the next one with Yvonne as she hasn't got the internet and misses the group meetings.”
‘Cuppa and a Chorus’ sessions are available to view free on the East Riding Libraries, Museums and Archives YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCDKrcfVOPjE1rZFCKsKZOzg/