A Year in the life of DYT’s Virtual Choir

The story of Do Your Thing’s last 18 months is one of determination, pride, at times sadness, but ultimately faith. When the founder and MD of Do Your Thing Choir, Liz Taylor, took the heartbreaking decision to close the rehearsal doors indefinitely in March 2020, no-one could have imagined what was going to happen in the next chapter. What the pandemic hadn’t reckoned on however was the resolve, creativity and heart of DYT, and even a pandemic couldn’t stop this choir from doing their thing!

“What I found so inspirational and moving at the very beginning were the scenes of people in Italy, locked up in their flats like prisoners to this COVID enemy, finding a way to communicate with each other through music. Strangers found a common language through music and the deserted streets were filled with song. I knew at that moment that this was not the end of our story. I had an insatiable desire to make our time, isolated but together, count and I knew that I had to find a way to keep our choir going.”

The NHS were very much the focus of the news at this time as they battled the unknown virus. Captain Tom, a humble Yorkshireman and war veteran, became the man of the hour as he approached his 100th birthday, walking laps of his garden every day to raise money for the NHS. His efforts inspired a nation including Do Your Thing and within weeks the choir created its first music video to raise funds for the NHS charities.

“I quickly realised that although the odds seemed to be stacked against us in so many ways, we had an unbelievable opportunity of doing some good in the world by doing what we love from the safety of our homes and creating a music video for this incredible cause. We weren’t out there facing the virus like so many key workers, but I knew we could still do our bit, isolated but together.”

Choir members had to dig deep and challenge themselves in ways they had never needed to before by effectively singing solo and recording themselves…in one take! Each of these videos, including contributions from members of DYT Kids choir (DYT:KC), were then edited over countless days to create The Do Your Thing Choir Connective’s version of “Proud”. This was a time consuming process when everyone, including the incredible Linda Mulvey who created the video, was learning on the job!

Their enormous efforts paid off in ways they couldn’t have imagined when within a week they had raised over £3.5K! Not only that but the media had heard about the choir and Liz was interviewed by BBC Breakfast in early April and subsequently by various media outlets. Their journey had begun.

The next hero to arrive in their story came in the form of something the choir had never even heard of, Liz included. “Zoom” was to be the saving of Do Your Thing. However, it was a double edged sword and a sacrifice of only hearing yourself sing whilst watching all your friends ‘mime’ was the choice faced by all choir members. For some, the sacrifice was too great and so they left the choir indefinitely, counting down the days for its return. For others, they continued on the journey knowing that, without this, there was no choir and that sacrifice was one they simply couldn’t afford to take.

From April 2020 until July 2021, the virtual choir were sent weekly vocal tutorials/rehearsals so that they could use the time forced upon them constructively. They all went on an intensive vocal boot camp to improve their voices, ready for their return, even though no-one knew when that would be.

Choir members would feed back regularly as to their breakthrough moments and even though Liz hadn’t heard one voice since the Proud video was released, her choir were clearly improving. The VC members realised that this bridge back to choir, in the form of Zoom, wasn’t just a time filler until they returned but in fact a golden opportunity to improve as singers and performers and they weren’t going to let this slip by.