It’s been a difficult year for everyone. In the early months of 2020, Covid-19 swept across the globe, causing India to go into a nationwide lockdown on 25 March. For an organisation that relies on face-to-face contact to do all its work, this truly was our biggest challenge yet.
For many Songbound children, the lockdown in March meant moving away from Mumbai. Families who worked in the city were forced to return to their ancestral villages across the country. The combination of this and restrictions on social gatherings made it impossible for us to run our weekly rehearsals.
And so we had to find a different way…
Over the last few months, we have developed new rehearsal techniques using WhatsApp and Google Meets. Our Choir Leaders have been brilliant, and adapted readily to this new way of working. Every week, they make teaching videos with instructions for learning a song. They then conduct a weekly chat/video call with the children in their choir at a designated time, in which they give feedback on children’s home videos and answer questions.
Thanks to this innovative use of technology, we have worked regularly and virtually with over 500 children throughout the course of the pandemic. This is the highest number of students we have ever interacted with in a single year. As one of our Choir Leaders said:
“Songbound is one of the few concrete things the children have left to hang on to.”
However, online teaching is not without its challenges. The biggest problem we face is that many of our students don’t have access to mobile phones. Others do not have enough Internet/mobile data to participate regularly in rehearsals. Some families share one mobile phone, and have to prioritise using it for one child’s academic study over another’s musical enrichment.
Despite this, we persist!
Everyone at Team Songbound is so grateful for and inspired by the work of our fantastic Choir Leaders, and our dedicated, committed students who keep turning up against the odds. We will be rehearsing in this way until at least the end of 2020, but we need your help to make sure we can get back to rehearsing safely, in-person as soon as we are allowed.
You can sponsor a Songbound student for just £30/year. If you are in a position to do so, please give what you can.