For many, lockdown has sparked interest in new hobbies, but for one Wokingham group pastimes are the key to keeping them on track.
YouTooMusic, a training programme aimed at helping adults to relearn instruments, is using technology to keep members focused throughout the pandemic.
Connected via the video call software Zoom, the group has used regular sessions to practice their music and share advice for coping with the current changes.
The catch-ups are a virtual alternative to the group’s workshops previously held at Wokingham Baptist Church.
The group’s founder, Robin Scurlock, said: “The Zoom sessions are a fantastic opportunity for discussing music, playing our instruments and working on new projects.
“They also have an important well-being aspect by maintaining contact and keeping us motivated throughout the lockdown.”
The group’s most recent project can be seen on YouTube where Robin explains how the group have used software to produce songs remotely.
The video features snippets of the musicians’ renditions of pieces from James Bond films and by Snow Patrol.
Robin explains: “The YouTube video shows how we rehearsed, recorded and produced two of our songs.
“I outline the many stages involved in the production process and how once each member has sent me their recorded part, I am able to construct the song with the help of my contacts in the industry.”
“At first, producing the parts remotely was a challenge as we had to familiarise ourselves with the relevant recording software, however once we got used to it the process was rewarding. “Members learnt the parts for each song during our group video calls, each song taking two to three weeks to perfect.”
“Initially, we tried to play our parts simultaneously however internet connections made this impossible and, at times, very amusing.
“The new process involves everyone but myself being muted so that each musician can practice their part while I play the master track on the keyboard.”
He adds: “We chose to play the James Bond theme tune and Snow Patrol’s Run as they are fun pieces which members are familiar with.
“The next song we are working on is Nina Simone’s I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free which is a track we can all resonate with at the moment.
“Working together to produce these pieces has reminded us how much music can lift your mood.
“This is a steep learning curve but one that has been extremely worthwhile.”
While not coaching his students, Robin has used lockdown to work on his own music, performing outsidehis Finchampstead home.
The busks have included special events for VE Day and bank holidays.
The violinist says: “Live on the Drive is a way of bringing the neighbours together at a safe distance and helping those living on their own or shielding to feel more positive.”
“I’ve had a great reaction to the performances and have got a lot of joy from doing them.”
For more information about YouTooMusic, including how to join the programme and get involved with upcoming virtual workshops, log on to youtoomusic.org.uk or visit the Facebook page @youtoomusic. You can also view the group’s most recent YouTube video at youtu.be/ITJIlxVjFsU.