Sharing the joy of music

We were so looking forward to this Friday’s music-themed Care Home Open Day, now in its 8th year and organised by Care England, NAPA and the National Care Forum. Understandably it was postponed until 2021 due to COVID-19.

The theme of music and making a positive noise isn’t postponed though! So, even though our musicians can’t visit in person, Health:Pitch will still bring the music to you with our first ever digital production.

At a time when everyone in the social care sector is struggling with the unique COVID-19 challenges, boosting connections can have huge health and wellbeing benefits for residents, staff, carers and families.

Music is such a great way to bring people together, to share the joy of singing, or simply listening to music that lifts the soul.

On Friday 26th June, the whole Health:Pitch team is continuing to share the therapeutic power of music with care homes and their communities. We hope you will join us to make a big noise.

Opera singer Francesca Lanza recording her performance for The Soprano in her Italian flat

In our original musical theatre production, The Soprano, we share the sheer joy of music. Viewers are encouraged to warm up their voices with professional opera singer, Francesca Lanza, before enjoying her heart-lifting performances of well-loved arias. She also manages to overcome technological challenges to sing with colleagues in the UK from her home in Italy.

The scripts, by Dr Helen Eastman, are created specifically to reach out to those who feel lonely as a result of COVID-19. Even as some people are able to restart their social lives, for many the easing of lockdown is something they can still only watch from afar.

For those people, sharing the joy of music is more important than ever. Do you know someone in a care home who would enjoy watching The Soprano? Let them know, or even better watch it too and then have a chat about it! We guarantee you will start humming.

Our partners, NAPA and the National Care Forum have been kindly sharing the link to their members and The Soprano will remain online on YouTube for you to use at any time, for free.

If you have any questions about how to share The Soprano with those in your care, or simply want advice on how best to enjoy it yourself, please get in touch and we can talk you through the technology. If we can work it, anyone can!

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  • SianLewis

Let's connect online with people who feel isolated.

Behind the COVID-19 headlines, another pandemic has been raging for years – loneliness. A study published in The Lancet found that what they describe as a ‘public health problem’ affects a third of people in the developed world.

Lockdown has made this problem worse. A British Red Cross survey found two in five adults in the UK now feel even lonelier. With social contact limited, meaningful connections are hard.

How can we help?

At Health:Pitch we work hard to connect people who feel isolated through the healing joy of music. You can help us by sharing The Soprano, our original musical theatre production available for free on YouTube.

The first two episodes have already been enjoyed by people forced to isolate over the past three months.

“It really brought a smile to my face,” says Jo Lark, 74, who has been isolating at her home in West Sussex since March 15th. “The music is beautiful, and the singer is so lovely when she talks to the camera. I did join in with the operatic warm up exercises, luckily no one was around to hear me.”

“I normally meet up with friends from the U3A three or four times a week,” Jo says. “We go for walks or meet for lunch and there is always a lot of chat.”

“Now, I do a lot more online,” explains Jo. “But this is the first time I have tuned in for a virtual opera!”

Soprano star Francesca Lanza staying in touch with friends from her flat in Italy.

The Soprano was also screened care homes, and the link has been circulated nation-wide by the National Care Forum and NAPA (the National Activities Providers Association who are aware of the current challenges of keeping residents engaged and active without visits from friends, families or activity providers.

Once each episode has premiered, they will remain free for all to enjoy on YouTube.

Do you know someone who would enjoy episodes of virtual opera? Please get in touch if you need any further information on how to share The Soprano.

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  • SianLewis

At 3pm, on Wednesday 17th June the first episode of The Soprano, performed by Francesca Lanza, will air on our YouTube channel.

This 10-minute slice of joy, the first of eight that will air every Wednesday and Saturday at 3pm until 11th July, will share the healing power of opera.

Let’s go behind the scenes to meet the team who have made The Soprano possible…

“We knew from day one, minute one, that Francesca is a natural,” says Jane Mote, founder and director of video production company beechtobeach. “She is constantly learning how best to work the sound, camera focus and lighting. But it is tough on her and some days are exhausting.”

The sheer speed of this project’s creation has forced all involved to adapt and acquire new skills. The first mini-mountain to scale involved getting the right recording kit to Francesca, in Italy, during lockdown. Luckily, despite many people in the UK and Italy sourcing similar equipment, Francesca was able to buy what she needed online.

Francesca, who will perform from her flat in Turin, Italy, then learnt via Zoom sessions with Jane and her beechtobeach colleague Connor Whitfield, how to light and film her own work. Jane and Connor adapted their existing smartphone video training techniques to train their first opera singer, working step by step and showing live on their phones how the technology works.

"The hardest issue is sound," explains Jane. "Francesca's high notes are far too powerful for the two types of microphones we use. So, we have to use a third microphone for the arias and mix the audio when we edit."

It’s not just Francesca’s glorious voice that has caused challenges when recording. During one filming session, she was joined by an unexpected, and unwelcome, orchestra – builders working on the roof of her flat.

The Soprano, is an original piece of musical theatre production featuring well-known, and well-loved, arias. “This work celebrates how music can keep us happy, healthy and connected with others and was created especially to reach and support those groups who have been and remain isolated as a result of COVID-19," explains Health:Pitch co-founder Camilla Vickers. “The script, written by the award-winning Dr Helen Eastman, focuses on issues of isolation and lack of connection with friends and family using humour and song to address some of the challenges,”

Humour has also been an essential ingredient for the team involved in bringing The Soprano to life. Despite the very real challenges of creating, rehearsing, performing and recording a virtual musical theatre production, Jane and Connor are spurred on by the knowledge that this project is already bringing cheer during lockdown.

"It is far more intensive than we imagined," says Jane. "But it is one of the most fulfilling jobs I have ever done. And, the added bonus? I am exercising my vocal chords, singing along with Francesca on the warm-up exercises. That makes me feel happier and healthier too."

Maybe Jane's arias will feature in the future out-takes video. "From the first day we started training, we have been capturing some of the funnier moments," Jane explains. "Francesca's humour is a constant that lights up every shooting day. We hope to make some behind-the-scenes content when we have a spare moment. But, first, we have to train up two more singers from the Health:Pitch team and work out how to make duets work…remotely.”

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Health Pitch operates as a distinct fund within the Centre for Innovation in Voluntary Action (CIVA), registered UK charity 1122095.