What is the Singing Mamas Choir Training?

A brief introduction to the Singing Mamas Choir Training.

A little story

When our founder, Kate Valentine, was a little girl she went along to a school choir rehearsal.  She was singing away and loving every minute until the teacher tapped her on the shoulder and told her to go back to the classroom.  Kate was really confused by this, as a child she didn’t understand the concept that she couldn’t sing?  This is a memorable moment for Kate and maybe you have one like this too, where your voice was shut off and you lost your confidence to sing?  

Kate went into nursing when she left school, followed by child-minding when she started her family.  She recalls “I’d pick the children up from school and see what I found out to be a ‘natural voice’ choir singing together in the hall”.  “I worked up the courage to ask if we could come and join in but they said no!”.  “I wasn’t one for taking no for an answer and the children were really keen so I asked again and this time they said yes! ”  “As time went on, the children became a welcome and settled part of the group and the experience all the more richer for everybody”.

Kate then moved to Forest Row in East Sussex and started looking after a little girl called Thea, her Mum is called Catherine.  Catherine became really interested in the idea of going along to a choir like the one Kate had described and after much searching Catherine said she’d come across something like it and invited Kate to go with her.

Kate remembers walking into the room with all the other mums seated on the floor with their babies and children and waiting a long time for the session to start.  Kate then started to feel like people were looking at her, including her friend Catherine who finally said, “Kate, you know some songs don’t you?”.  It suddenly dawned on Kate that she had been set up by here friend to lead this group of women and their children in song!  Kate claims to have ‘whispered’ her way through a few songs and shaking like a leaf but by the end of the session felt so good that she invited everyone to her house the following week!  The choir continued in Kate’s front room until they became so big that they needed to book a hall – that was 10 years ago and it’s kept on growing ever since!

Believe in yourself

Kate tells this story because it demonstrates how anyone can do this work, song sharing, with just the tiniest desire.  People come along to the training from all different backgrounds – from no experience to professional musicians and everyone in between.  The training is structured in such a way that it doesn’t leave anyone out and everyone brings something of value to make the experience special.

Singing and sharing songs is a desire that lives in all of us; we believe that singing is a birth right, and as a network we are always there to support each other to remember that – despite issues we may have to do with confidence and self-esteem.

How can I learn to share songs?

We have put together a training weekend which is an immersive experience of sharing songs amongst a lovely group of people; enjoying delicious home cooked food; time to relax and unwind; learning new skills and surprising yourself by discovering how naturally gifted you really are when it comes to sharing songs!

As well as share songs, we talk about valuing the origin of the song and the composer; the importance of culture; copyright and how to turn song sharing into a regular income by setting up a choir of your own.

But if this isn’t about earning an income for you and you are hoping to do it in a voluntary capacity or just out of interest – you are still very welcome to come along and will get lots from the experience.

 

The method

Our purpose is to ‘bring people home in community and song’ – that means keeping it simple and accessible to everyone. When you come along to the training, we take you as you are and are not concerned about level of experience and you do not need to read music. The songs we learn by ear – we are not teaching you to sing, we are teaching you how to receive a song and share it with others, a very different skill.

We practice a variety of warm ups; we sing songs in unison and in harmony parts, and everyone is encouraged to share a song by the end of the weekend (don’t worry, you have plenty of time to prepare before you come along). We learn to listen to our own voice and listen to others at the same time so we feel fully immersed in the song. You will go home with your pockets full of songs to get you started, and when you connect into the network of other trained individuals, you’ll learn and share so many more.

What does a Singing Mamas Choir look?

It looks like whatever you’d like it to be – our leader network run choirs for a variety of audiences: for women and children, including women without their own children; inter generational choirs; choirs held in the evening; for home school networks and mixed gender choirs. As long as your choir’s purpose and mission aligns with ours, your choir is your own.

We also welcome partner organisations and experienced choir leaders to come and train with us. For example, Emma Mutter, founder of the established Mums in Tune choir came along to our training out of an interest in natural voice singing and to be able to benefit from being part of a large network of other song sharers.

It’s not about competition for us, we value collaboration overall and we will find a way to welcome you to the network.  We believe what we have to offer you is very special and want to reach as many people as possible with the gift of song and singing in harmony.

I’m keen to come along, what do I do next?
1. Check out our latest training dates and take advantage of our early bird discount
2. Sign up for a free online ‘Intro to the training’ on Zoom – find it on Facebook
3. Send us an email

Thank you and we look forward to welcoming you to the Singing Mamas Choir family.

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Would you like to ‘Meet the Composer’ of your favourite songs?

Meet the Composer series - in conversation with Kate Valentine, Founder of Singing Mamas Choir.

What is ‘Meet the Composer’?

‘Meet the Composer’ is a special series of video-recorded interviews with composers and song sharers from the Natural Voice world, brought to you by the Singing Mamas Choir Network. It is my pleasure and privilege to get to meet them, albeit virtually, to ask about their journey to becoming a song writer and musician; what inspires them; the process of song writing and to share some insights and advice for how people interested in composing music could get started.

I bet you’re in your element right now?
Yeah! I love what I’m doing – shining a light on very special individuals who produce the beautiful songs that we all enjoy so much and the joy they bring when we share them with each other in our choirs and in our homes.

Where did the idea for Meet the Composer come from?
I have been brewing this idea for a long while; I’ve always been a fan of life-stories and biographies, especially from the change-makers of the world. Whenever I learn or teach a new song, I’m proud to share what I know about the song origin and the person who gifted this song to us.

Now I find myself leading leaders, in the organically grown Singing Mamas Choir network, I feel even more of a responsibility to model and create a strong culture of valuing and upholding the work of the songwriters. It’s also such an amazing feeling to see so many of the leaders blossoming into composers through being part of my network!

Why is valuing and upholding the work of songwriters so important to you?
As the Singing Mamas Choir community grows, songs are reaching more hearts and homes – I want to promote the culture of getting to know the composers and pay credit where it is due.

Copyright is an important subject within the Singing Mamas Network – the desire to share songs is strong and we are forever exchanging our knowledge about which songs are open source and which have copyright, which song books to recommend and how to buy the songs we want to teach. With digital and social media sharing, we can meet even more songs than ever before, but coupled with this is a risk that copyrights are breached and that we have not valued that individual’s work. This is a topic I will be talking a lot more about in the interviews.

What’s it like being in front of the camera and asking sometimes quite personal questions?
I can’t pretend I’ve got much experience of being an interviewer, but I feel at ease on camera and hopefully make others feel the same. My style is just to have a friendly conversation and create a warm and authentic flow. I’m also really interested to know the answers to my questions, I’m a big fan of many of these composers and so the questions just come naturally.

Where can we watch ‘Meet the Composer’ series?
You can find all of the interviews to date on our YouTube channel and some are pre recorded and some are broadcast live which adds another layer of excitement – we advertise upcoming interviews on our social media.  We’ll also be releasing them more widely soon as special first series.

What if you’re composer and song sharer reading this blog and are interested in featuring in the series?

Fantastic! Email me at info@singingmamaschoir.com

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A spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir: East Hoathly, East Sussex

In conversation with Rebecca Blech, Singing Mamas Choir Leader

“We are a warm and welcoming group of women; we connect with heart in an intimate space of song sharing and deep connection”.

Rebecca’s choir is a mixture of mums with young babies and toddlers; mums with children at school and college, and home-schoolers.  

Rebecca has so many happy memories of her choir – she recalls when tiny tots would utter her name for the first time and standing alongside her to conduct the women. She loves to hear about when the songs travel back to the homes of the women and their children; children singing to their dollies and their friends.

Rebecca remembers the heartfelt conversations about what really matters; the wisdom shared between the group and the howls of laughter as well as the tears when they need to come. Rebecca also gets super praise for her home bakes, the group really appreciate the extra love and nourishment they provide.

Rebecca is a big fan of our regular Songline sessions and believes they are a “great opportunity to introduce singing harmonies to those who might otherwise never sing for fear of what they sounded like; to bring the gift of song and community to people who might otherwise be isolated and lonely at home; to boost immunity through singing at this time; and to give a taste of what we share in Singing Mamas Choirs are all about”.

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A spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir Liverpool and Holistic Harmonies

In conversation with Rachel Hilton, Singing Mamas Choir Leader and host of Songline.

What would you like people to know about your choir?
My choir is full of really lovely; friendly and open women. After nearly 2 years together we are a community and we’d love you to join us? Come and feel the joy that singing in harmony can bring? You will love singing as a circle of women; it’s very different to standing or being seated in rows facing the front. The connection is so wonderful and we sing for each other and ourselves.

Tell us about a special memory?
I managed to bring all three of my Singing Mamas Choirs together for the first time, for National Make Music Day. We all sang outside Liverpool Central Library and my heart was exploding with love and pride at seeing singing so beautifully and then chatting with each other. I can honestly say that singing in a group is the most special feeling ever!

Why did you become a Singing Mamas Choir Leader?
As a Singing Mamas Choir Leader I really feel like I’ve found my vocation. I first saw an advert about the training on Facebook and thought… no, that’s not for me, I don’t know enough…. I’m a follower not a leader! Then I read on and it said I didn’t need to be a professional musician or have any experience; I wouldn’t be a teacher, I would be a song sharer. At point I just felt called to say YES!

I have a lot of experience working with women in groups teaching baby massage, and I originally went to theatre school many years ago. I began to see how being a choir leader could be the answer I had been looking for and a way to blend all of my skills and experience.

What’s it like being the host of Songline?
I think it’s so wonderful to see people from across the generations and across the world all joining in; singing the same song at the same time. Even though we can’t hear each other I feel really connected to these people. I’m even starting to feel familiar with the regulars!

Find out more about Rachel’s choir and Holistic Harmonies.

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A spotlight on Mums in Tune Choir, Letchworth, Hertfordshire

In conversation with Emma Mutter, Singing Mamas Choir Leader and Founder of Mums in Tune.

Tell us about your choir?

At Mums in Tune we sing gorgeous harmony songs in a fun, uplifting and supportive small group setting. There’s no need to read music as we learn everything by ear and I set the pace according to who’s in the group. We start with a gentle stretch and a good warm-up, and stop halfway through for a tea break and a chat, so you can connect socially as well as musically!

We sing a range of song styles and there’s a mix of familiar and new songs for each block. The babies are happy on comfy quilts or snuggled up with you, but Mums in Tune is quite different from a baby-focused group. You’re focusing on your own voice and the joy generated by singing in a group of women. It’s liberating and energising! So far Mums in Tune has been aimed at new mums of young babies, but I’ll be soon opening up to toddlers, and all-women-welcome sessions when I can.

Why did you set up the choir?

I’ve always enjoyed singing and as I neared the end of pregnancy I realised I’d met some lovely women who might just enjoy singing too! So I sent a few messages out… When my daughter was about 6 weeks old, about 5 of us met up to try singing at my house. A couple of years and a few different venues later, Mums in Tune is becoming well established in Letchworth as a lovely option for mums who’d like to sing more grown-up songs! It seems to have struck a chord (pardon the pun) with many women as it’s really something for them. Singing in a group has so many health and well being benefits, many of which I’m still learning about!

Tell us about why you decided to do the Singing Mama Choir Leaders Training?

I attended the Singing Mamas Choir leader training in February 2020 and was awestruck by the energy and the song sharing mission of the network. It felt like coming home – I’m so happy to have found Singing Mamas and become a Partner member. It’s such a supportive network, inspiring me to improve the way I lead my choir and stay connected with other choir leaders.

The training made such a positive difference to how I lead my choir now and gave me lots of ideas. For example, during a session, at the end of the break, instead of saying ‘right everyone, let’s start again’ which always feels like interrupting, I just started to sing a simple repeated phrase, as I’d learned during the training. The women nearest me joined in, then the others, until very soon we were all singing! We added a tune and harmony part over the top, it was an arrangement of a familiar song so quite easy and natural to pick up. I looked around at everyone rocking their babies to the rhythm while fully absorbed in singing together and I just marvelled at the magic of it all. Everyone looked so content, I hadn’t given any instructions, we were just singing and it felt like all was right with the world!

Find more information about Mums in Tune.

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A spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir: Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells and Rochester

In conversation with Rachel Ramsay, Singing Mamas Choir Leader and Founder of Flutterby Music

“We want you – even if you’ve been told in the past not to sing – we’ll have you and your voice just as you are”.

Everyone is welcome at Rachel’s choirs – they come together to sing; they have a good chat and then there’s plenty of tea and cake to go around!

Rachel’s groups are very relaxed: she is great at responding to whatever you and your little ones need at the time. She mixes up sessions with new songs that might tax your brain a little, but then throws in some old favourites that you can just sing along to without thinking. Rachel promises that you will leave uplifted and nourished.

She beautifully describes the ethos of the group as “every woman and every voice contributes to the song as a whole, we all depend on and support each other”. Rachel also offers bursary places are offered to those women in need.

Rachel says “running three Singing Mamas Choirs doesn’t feel like a job – it gets me through my week! A place where I’m not judged; I’m allowed to make mistakes and I feel at home”.

“I trained to be a Singing Mamas Choir Leader because I needed more harmony in my life!”

Of the network of 90+ Singing Mama Choir Leaders: “Belonging to a circle of women is such an amazing experience. I now have a whole new network of friends that I can rely on, and when we meet and sing in person it’s just fabulous. It was such a bonus to find this, in addition to the singing in harmony, as I hadn’t realised that I was missing out on this powerful support network”

Contact Rachel

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Press Release – 18th May 2020

In support of Mental Health Awareness Week, 18th May – 24th May 2020, Singing Mamas Choir Network is giving the gift of a song with the release of Apart Together, written by Asha McCarthy. Apart Together is a song to help people feel more connected to each other during the lock down.

Asha McCarthy, Singing Mamas Choir Leader (Stroud) and mother of a toddler said “I felt very anxious at the beginning of the lock down; I worried about my family and friends a lot…I wrote Apart Together hoping people would feel comforted and less alone”.

Apart Together is a collaboration between choir leaders from the Singing Mamas Choir Network, the women are based all over England. The parts were recorded separately and then produced by Rachel Holmes (Oxfordshire) to create the finished piece. Rachel said “When people listen to the song, I wish for them to hear the courage and hope in our voices and use it as a source of strength to see them through what remains of these troubled times”.

Kate Valentine (East Sussex), Founder and Director of Singing Mamas Choir recently answered the call to return to Nursing on the frontline against Covid-19. Kate said “I have seen first-hand as a choir leader and now in hospitals how important connection, and song are to patients and their loved ones; singing is a medicine and I hope this song goes some way to making them feel better”.

Singing Mamas Choir also launched ‘Songline’, a response the announcement of the lock down eight weeks ago. Since then and three times a week, Singing Mamas Choir Leaders and special guests from the wider natural voice network, including Susie Ro Prater, have been sharing songs as part of our Songline sessions. Songline has brought thousands of people together to sing and feel part of a community. Asha McCarthy will be teaching Apart Together on Songline on Friday 22nd May at 10.30am – we’d love you to join us and it’s free.

Ends.

Notes to Editor:
• Main contact: Lindsey Joy – Communications Coordinator – lindsey@bodhimama.co.uk and 07817 305458

• Alternative contact: Kate Valentine – Founder & Director – mskatevalentine@gmail.com and 07765 238444

• Apart Together video is hosted here: https://youtu.be/ijZhXKF_hjM

• Singing Mamas Choir are a wide network of community based, face to face choirs bringing people together to connect and experience the freedom, energy and pure magic of harmony singing in our natural voice. Singing Mamas was established over 10 years ago by Kate Valentine as a way to get more women singing.

• Songline is every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10.30am and is free. Sessions are led by a Singing Mamas Choir Leader or very special guests from the natural voice community. People can join in on Zoom: 999 101 2345 (pw:12345) or Facebook Watch Party.

• Find out more about Singing Mamas Choir: https://www.facebook.com/singingmamas/ and www.singingmamaschoir.com

• Apart Together vocalists: Rachel Hilton; Zoie Kennedy; Tanya Sapphira Forward; Emma-Louisa Mutter; Megan Fitter; Lynfa Sioufi; Kate Valentine; Asha McCarthy; Rachel Ramsay; Sayuri Christina Kamiya; Lucy Lapere; Helen Sundaram; Sophy Simpson; Eugeny Couture; Rebecca Blech; and Rachel Holmes (Picture below).

• More information about Asha McCarthy:

– Asha’s music page is https://m.facebook.com/ashacello/

– Asha’s ‘Hope Choir’ meets online on Tuesdays at 10.30am:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/stroudmamaschoir/

– And the original ‘Apart Together’ song can be found here:
https://youtu.be/qWRL_AZ6u0k

The making of Apart Together

In coversation with Asha McCarthy & Rachel Holmes, Singing Mamas Choir Leaders.

Why did you write Apart Together?
Asha: The song came to me at the beginning of the lock down, I remember that I was feeling anxious at the time. I was going to do an online choir session, but couldn’t think of what songs to sing for this unprecedented situation, so I wrote ‘Apart Together’ for us to sing to help us feel connected to each other even though we couldn’t be together in person for a while.

Where did the idea to record Apart Together come from and then release it?
Rachel: Asha posted a recording of her singing Apart Together on the Singing Mamas Choir Network Forum and I was immediately captivated by the message of the song; I came up with the idea of turning it into a Singing Mamas collaboration piece!

I wanted to create a shared experience where people could feel like they were singing together despite being apart. We are also letting our families; friend and choir members know that we are still here – we hold them in our minds every day.

What do you hope people will get from the song?
Rachel: When people listen to the song, I wish for them to hear the courage and hope in our voices and inspire them to use it as a source of strength to see them through what remains of these troubled times.

Asha: I hope that people can feel comforted by this song. And that they can feel soothed by all the harmonies, and feel less alone.

How did you make the video?
Rachel: I sent out the parts as backing tracks and then individuals worked on them at home before filming themselves and sending it back to me. I then had the painstaking task of lining up the various recordings so that the timing and mix of sound was in sync!

I became so absorbed in the editing and fine-tuning of the video; it gave me a real sense of purpose amidst the otherwise hopeless feeling to do with the lock down. I must have heard it a hundred times and it was always so poignant and uplifting; it became the lock down anthem in our house, and hopefully many other households following it’s release.

Who is singing on Apart Together?
Rachel: I put out the call to the Singing Mama Choir Leaders Network and got a fantastic response. We are used to supporting each other despite a lot of us having never met! Everyone involved was so committed and enjoyed the process thoroughly. Every women that sang was so vulnerable and every clip I received was a gift.

These are the wonderful women singing: Rachel Hilton; Zoie Kennedy; Tanya Sapphira Forward; Emma-Louisa Mutter; Megan Fitter; Lynfa Sioufi; Kate Valentine; Asha McCarthy; Rachel Ramsay; Sayuri Christina Kamiya; Lucy Lapere; Helen Sundaram; Sophy Simpson; Eugeny Couture; Rebecca Blech; and Rachel Holmes.

I’m thinking of the day in the near future when we will all be able to meet in person to sing Apart Together; it makes me emotional and hopeful at the same time.

 

A Spotlight on Singing Mamas Choir Brighton and Hove


A chat with Eugeny Couture, Singing Mamas Choir Leader

“I wanted to create the singing group I would have needed when I was a young mum myself”.

Eugeny welcomes all women and says that they can join at any time, no need to wait for a new term.

Eugeny says are so well bonded as a group that they never manage to leave on time after a session; the chat, sharing of news and tea drinking after the singing is just as important to them! What a lovely group of women by the sounds of it!

She believes the more people sing right now, the better: “Singing is very uplifting”.

Get in touch to find out more about Eugeny’s choir: Eugeny@singingmamaschoir.com

A Spotlight on Lewes Evening Choir, East Sussex

A chat with Nell Sundaram, Singing Mamas Choir Leader

“We meet in the evenings when the children are in bed, so it’s truly a time for yourself. Our sessions are a very relaxed; non-judgemental and for all ages everyone is welcome at my choir”.

Nell is a relatively new Singing Mama Choir Leader and remembers her first Choir session fondly – “we were singing together in simple harmony and at the end of the song, someone said ‘blimey!’; they were totally shocked by the beautiful sound we had just created. We all laughed and agreed”.

Nell’s evening choir had only been running for half a term when the lockdown happened because of the virus. Nell was not deterred though; encouraged by the desire of her women to carry on and by her own passion for singing, Nell is continuing to lead her choir online and is welcoming new members.

Nell is loving all of the songs she is learning and sharing with her online choir; she believes in the power of song to heal and uplift people in challenging times like these: “Singing is such a wonderful release for people”.

Find out more: helensundarammarketing@gmail.com