SINGERS are building musical bridges in Easingwold in a community project.
In the latest session, on April 3, singer Jessa Liversidge kicked off the school Easter holidays in style with an uplifting movie musicals gathering as part of the Musical Bridges project, whose aim is to build bridges through song.
Previous sessions have included a “looping around” session with Jessa; a raucous sea shanties afternoon with Chris Bartram, and a moving Ukrainian songs workshop with Svetlana Ryadchenko. This time, Easingwold singer, singing group leader and #fieldsing creator Jessa recruited more than 60 singers, ranging in age from 18 months to 95 years, to sing at Easingwold Methodist Church.
“A fun time was had by all as the singers sang their hearts out and enjoyed the company of friends old and new,” she says.
“The day started with an ‘Under 16s only’ only session, where around 20 young people, aged three to 15, enjoyed singing songs from Matilda, The Greatest Showman, Mary Poppins and Oliver.
“The youngsters hailed from York and Thirsk, as well as Easingwold and the surrounding villages, and they made a beautiful sound together and had a few laughs too. It was great for the young people to have some attention on their own – and great for some of the parents to be able to go off and explore some of Easingwold’s fine cafés and shops!”
At 11am, the adults were allowed to join the session. “What a fabulously varied range of adults there were,” says Jessa. “Some families ended up with three generations taking part, and some adults without families were able to enjoy the company of young people, as well as revelling in the experience of singing together.”
The most senior singer, 95-year-old Barbara Tildesley, a resident of Easingwold and a regular member of Jessa’s Singing For All group, remarked: “I just love to hear children sing. They are marvellous!”
The musical movie magic continued as the young singers sang to the adults and they then sang more songs together from Mamma Mia! and The Sound of Music.
“The whole group then learned a new song from Seussical: The Musical, How Lucky You Are, which had some appropriate lyrics to lift spirits,” says Jessa. “My style of leading is positive and encouraging, enabling everyone to feel good about themselves and join in with confidence.”
A Musical Bridges session would not be complete without refreshments. “The whole group were treated to delicious home baking by Singing For All star-baker Linda Crisp to accompany their tea, coffee and juice,” says Jessa.
“One of the main aims of Musical Bridges is to get people together to chat as well as sing – and the break gave the opportunity for people from different walks of life, people of different ages, abilities and life experiences, people with a range of health conditions or none, to chat about their favourite musicals and songs, as well as how singing made them feel.
“At Singing For All events too, everyone is welcomed and all contributions are valued and celebrated, leading to a relaxed, positive atmosphere and happy singers.”
Feedback after the session was fantastic, says Jessa: “Many participants reported how uplifted they felt and what fun they had had. One participant said they had ‘a renewed zest for life’, while another said the session ‘ignited the little girl in me’. ‘Awesome’, ‘happy’, ‘energised’, ‘amazing’, ‘best time ever’… were just a few of the other phrases used as singers left.
“Singers with a range of needs said how simple adaptations to the running of the session made them feel included and part of the group.”
The next session, Songs Of Zimbabwe, will be led by Bruce Ncube on May 7, with some free spaces still available. More Musical Bridges sessions will be forthcoming, all funded by the Co-op Community Fund, as the project continues in its quest to bring people together through song.
Anyone wanting to find out more about the project or book a place on a future session should email Jessa at firstname.lastname@example.org.