*this is a paid partnership with The Sage, Gateshead
Every now and then I’ll get an email about working together with someone and it’s such the perfect fit it’s almost like the blogging gods are watching over me. When The Sage music venue in Gateshead got in touch and asked if I fancied coming along to try a virtual singing class, it felt like a match made in heaven.
It’s no secret that the theatre/live music industry has taken a terrible hit and since at time of writing, we’re elbows deep in lockdown number 3, it doesn’t feel like we’re going to be able to be back to packed auditoriums any time soon.
Sage Gateshead is an international music centre conference and event venue on the banks of the river Tyne and it’s iconic building is somewhere I’ve seen many a show at over the years from Level 42 to Sheryl Crow, to Boyz II Men. The accoustics in the main hall are second to none and it’s without a doubt one of my favourite venues in the city. They’re so much more than just a music venue though, they also offer an array of singing and music classes and workshops so are integral to the North East’s arts scene.
The virtual singing class I was invited to try out was Sing Pop! Which is perfect for me even by title. I used to sing here and there in high school and of course am the world’s biggest self confessed boy band fan! But how would this work virtually? I’m no stranger to video calls, having worked from home since March last year and spending 90% of my days on MS Teams calls. I couldn’t decide whether the fact that I would be singing alone in my spare room, rather than in a room with other like minded people, was a plus or a minus.
From the minute I logged on though, any fears I may have had, quickly disappeared. Jen, the programme leader, has an infectious enthusiasm and the class is a good mixture of newbies and old hands at this kind of thing; and it was super inclusive and welcoming.
What made me laugh the first lesson I logged on? That song that week was I Want It That Way by Backstreet Boys, it’s as if it was meant to be! After a few vocal warm ups and getting to know each other a little bit, it was time to get started. Now, of course for it’s not like I couldn’t sing this song backwards and in my sleep, but it was good that the song was broken down bit by bit for those who might not be as familiar as me, and the words are on the screen the whole time if you get a bit lost. The best bit for me is that Jen teaches you the harmonies too, so you essentially get to pick which Backstreet Boy you want to be – amazing!
The hour absolutely flew over to be honest and I think the class is absolutely perfect for anyone who might be feeling a bit nervous about singing with other people for the first time, that’s where the beauty of being muted on zoom comes into it’s own. I imagine, much as it would have been lovely to hear, I would have possibly been overcome with shyness had we all been in the same room together. What it has done though, is given me the confidence to start singing more, just in general, and seeing how welcoming the class was, I’d now be less worried about singing in front of other people again, when we’re allowed!
Each week you learn a new song, but what was a nice surprise was that you do a quick recap of the previous songs you’ve learnt too, so by week 4 you really feel like a choir, belting out pop hit after pop hit in the safety of your own bedroom! Other songs we learnt were I’ve Had The Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing and Mama Mia by Abba so there’s a real pop mix. Jen is super laid back as well so if there’s something you’re desperate to sing you can drop her a message and look to do it in subsequent weeks. Biggest regret for me is not requesting Everybody Wants to Rule the World (which is one of my all time favourite songs ever!).
I mean, just look at the vast array of singing faces I forgot I have (and these are just the ones I was willing to post on the internet:
Look, I know somethings aren’t ideal and we’re all suffering from a bit of Teams Fatigue right now, but I was really impressed with how well this virtual singing class were run, the amount of people who participated, and how welcoming and inclusive they were. And as I say there were many positives about being able to wail along to the Backstreet Boys in my pyjama bottoms with only poor Dave having to suffer through it. As if that’s not what I normally do on a Monday evening anyway!
Classes are Mondays 6.30-7.30pm via Zoom and the next block of classes starts 8 February and runs until Monday 22 March 2021. Tickets are £5 or a block of 5 classes for £22.50. Full details are on the Sage Gateshead’s website