Well, we are in unknown territory now and have been since our last full and normal rehearsal in March 2020!
The option we chose was to be inventive, stick with the official government guidelines, and grab any opportunities coming our orchestra's way!
So, what has the North Downs Community Orchestra been up to during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In 2020, we tried a variety of new activities aimed at engaging with our members, including:
A monthly members' 'Newletter', since June 2020.
Virtual 'Playalongs' via Zoom, open to all members, 2nd and 4th Wednesdays as per our 'normal' rehearsal evenings.
Some new/different rep to have a go with including 'Hymn to the Angels'.
'Garden Strings' and 'Garden Percussion' - small group rehearsals held in a private garden, restricted to 6 people from different households, meeting outside, socially distanced at 2m, and conducted by our musical director.
Members' survey to help the committee with future developments, to choose some favourite rep and to assess how we've been getting on during lockdown.
Further 6 person small groups in September with our MD at a sports pavilion verandah - trying to beat the light and the rain!
We have created our own thorough Risk Assessment working from the Making Music template and set our summary of protocols to be followed for each venue we're using.
Held our 2020 AGM via Zoom
Looking ahead to the rest of 2021:
Autumn term small group rehearsals starting to proceed indoors!
New rep to prepare for our next concert whenever that might be!
Super new indoor venue for socially distanced micro rehearsals (12 people) - St Andrew's Church Hall, Limpsfield Chart, Thursdays. (Booking in advance is essential)
Another super indoor venue in our lovely former 'green room' in The York rooms at St John's Church, Hurst Green, some Wednesdays. Same arrangements as for St Andrews - book in advance, maintain 2m social distancing at all times.
Virtual playalongs may become Zoom calls from in person rehearsals... (yes, they did but very briefly!)
Back to Lockdown 2! At least we have our Virtual playalongs to fall back on...and we're giving virtual sectionals a go now as well.
Hoping to be back soon to our small, socially distanced and incredibly rewarding small rehearsals after lockdown 2.
Good to go here in Tier 2, but very important for members to consider all the angles before deciding whether to book a place to attend. Unfortunately those living in tier 3 must not travel to attend. Probably be roles reversed in another fortnight or two! Many a true word spoken in jest.
Quick visit to Tier 3 and onto Tier 4 and now it's lockdown 3.
Back with Virtual Playalongs on our normal '2nd and 4th Wednesdays'. From February we are adding Virtual Strings on 1st Thursdays and Virtual Wind on 3rd Thursdays.
We also have 2 new pieces of rep and one 're-cycled' from our music library.
PLUS an end of term 'Party Pieces' 5th Wednesday evening (via Zoom) where members are asked to play solos or household group pieces to a very supportive audience. This will also mark 5 years since our orchestra's very first rehearsal.
Now, after a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we are still looking forward optimistically!
We are sticking with our 2nd and 4th Wednesdays as ever. Currently they are Virtual Playalongs. We hope, by the end of May, we could be indoors somewhere and maybe orgainising activities in bigger numbers than 14 if we can find a venue big enough for social distancing. We expect to be running approximately 4 in-person sessions a month, final details are just being confirmed.
Hang in there, everyone!