Work During Coronavirus

We have all been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. As a charity supporting the community we believe we have a part to play in helping our community in any way we can.

Rehearsals for our choirs Shepway Voices, Shepway Youth Voices, and Shepway Primary singers have been running online for much of the lockdown period. This has been a great success, and has allowed these established choirs to be together singing in some way.

The Headstong Singers, singing with people who have had a head related illness, stroke, or other life affecting event has also continued, as has the Martello Sessions for The Martello Centre, singing with adults with mental and physical disabilities.

The Secret Art Club, and Let's Create are two art projects that have been very successful during the pandemic, allowing children to access art tuition and receive the materials to create wonderful pieces of art.

Toddler Tune Time ran for many months, acting as a sing-a-long session for preschool children, as well as Sing With Alex which was a sing-a-long session for primary school aged children.

Story and Joke Time, and Shakespeare Sunday were also very successful, with many people joining in.

We have had people join our sessions from many other countries including South Africa, Greece, France and others. It's been a delight to reach so many people.

We would like to thank our tireless practitioners: Duncan Moris, Alex McNeice, Katherine Langley and Sarah Judge for their continued hard work in keeping everybody singing, drawing, making, and creating.

As a stroke survivor life seemed hopeless with very few opportunities for improvement.  Then MASC provided the amazing outlet of Headstrong for people like me.  Singing and understanding each other was such an important part of my recovery.  I joined Voices as a challenge to myself.  Instantly accepted by the wonderful people who showed empathy  and acceptance.  Of course COVID put an instant stop to both choirs   Until both Alex and Duncan  stepped up to provide online sessions which have saved many people from facing mental health issues. I currently join 4 sessions a week with all choir activities.  My grandson and I enjoyed Kath’s Krafts and I love the quiz nights for socialising with other equally grateful members.  mASC has given me the confidence and opportunity to record with the online choir and voices.  Tears of joy and thanks to MASC .️

MASC has given so much enjoyment to our scattered family both prior & throughout the Covid pandemic of 2020. 3 generations have enjoyed singing in many...(most) of the choirs, Duncan's story & joke time, Shakespeare Sunday, Kath's Crafts, supporting Alex & Duncan with their football virtual London marathon during Storm Alex, recording songs, making new friends & connecting with a family member living overseas & our granddaughters with their mother whilst she was involved in frontline care & them living with us for the duration. There has been so much more than I have mentioned on offer for all age groups & so welcoming with much love, care & friendship shared. Dec 20  A HUGE thank you MASC.

Shepway Voices about far more than just singing.  As well as being for the community it is indeed a community in itself.  Every single member is welcomed and valued. The way MASC has continued to provide musical and artistic opportunities during the COVID restrictions of 2020 has been amazing.  As someone who lives alone the Wednesday ‘online choir’ provided a get together with friends - and we even did some singing! I don’t think Alex realises just how much these sessions mean to us all!

My name is Megan, and I am 11 years old. I have been to all of the SPS online choir sessions and love them. I have also been to all of the other events going on during lockdown number 1 apart from headstrong singers and martello centre, but i am sure that they are absolutely brilliant as Duncan runs them. The sessions really lifted my spirits and made me really happy. It made my lockdown absolutely brilliant! I have also done some online recording with Alex and I supported Alex and Duncan doing the 'kick it to rye' marathon. They always make me smile

What does MASC mean to it’s various choirs Being a member of the Shepway Voices I know I can speak on behalf of so many of its members Yes it is choirs but it is so much more to do many It is a necessary social outlet where friendships are made It is a family Dec 20 It is a focal point in every members week! It is a community The work and dedication of all Committee members is exceptional They have managed to keep going all through the difficult COVID days and that has been so valuable to many people Encouraging youngsters, supporting Head Injury people and involving the older generation ... it is all catered for Well done to all we would not be without you The sessions really lifted my spirits and made me really happy. It made my lockdown absolutely brilliant! I have also done some online recording with Alex and I supported Alex and Duncan doing the 'kick it to rye' marathon. They always make me smile

A personal thank you to all of you for your commitment and hard work It is such a valuable part of the community and much appreciated Looking forward to the time when a meet up is possible again Well done all of you

Thank you MASC Board and all that you all, individually and collectively, do for the choirs and other activities.   My personal thanks to Lyn and Emma for putting up with me and welcome to the new team, particularly Sam and Big John who’ve been a tower of strength it me recently.

Toddler Tune Time

I have no toddlers, but I've tuned in to every Toddler Tune Time because the sessions are so enjoyable. I can only imagine how much fun little ones have joining in with their favourite nursery rhymes, copying the actions, and watching Duncan and his cuddly animal pals singing and playing. The voices Duncan gives to the animals are possibly the funniest part of the show, and I think anyone of any age would have a great time watching these live streams.

Shepway Primary Singers

I join in with Shepway Primary Singers every Wednesday, so that I can sing with my
two nieces and other family members. I've learnt a lot of great new songs and
remembered several old favourites, and I've had a lovely time singing them (often for days after the live session!). Duncan breaks down new songs so that everyone can learn them line by line, and it's very pleasing to sing a new song all the way through once you're feeling confident of the tune! Based on the humour and warmth of these sessions, I can see how much fun it must be for young singers to take part in the "real life" sessions under normal circumstances, but based on the happy comments in the live chat, they also enjoy the online sessions as much as I do!

Story and Joke Time

Story and Joke Time has made me laugh so much over the last few months. I've heard countless brilliant jokes submitted by viewers of all ages, as everyone competes to win Joke of the Week. Everyone's jokes are read out by Duncan, and every single one gets a good laugh. All of Duncan's live streams are funny and immensely enjoyable, and Story and Joke Time gives the viewers a chance to make Duncan laugh in return! The stories are always lovely, too, and Duncan points out any important messages in them (e.g. helping others, overcoming fears, etc) for the younger viewers. A good storyteller always gives the characters funny voices, of course, and this is one of Duncan's greatest talents! I was extremely touched when Duncan agreed to read out a story which I wrote for my sister, as a birthday surprise for her. He put so much thought into the presentation of the story, and read it beautifully, as I knew he would. I am so grateful for this kindness. 

Headstrong Singers Live Stream

Headstrong Singers is a wonderful opportunity to sing along with some old and new favourites. Duncan puts so much time, thought and energy into giving people a chance to come together online while they are unable to do so in person. His live streams have kept people singing during lockdown and I'm sure his cheerful, chatty personality has lifted a lot of people's spirits over the last few months. These sessions certainly make me happy, and I'm glad I've been able to watch all of them live.

Sing With Martello Centre Live Stream

I love to join the Martello Centre live streams for a good sing with Duncan. He makes sure that everyone has a song played for them, and plays just about any request (unless the song is absolutely impossible for one singer and a guitar to manage!). He is so funny, open and welcoming to all of his viewers on all of his live streams, and it's always a pleasure to tune in and be entertained by such a personable performer.

Shakespeare Sunday

Shakespeare Sunday was possibly the most fun anyone has ever had with
Shakespeare's work. Every week, viewers chose one of the books in a box set of
Shakespeare's plays written in story form, and every week, the characters in the story were given improbable and hilarious accents! These live streams were a brilliant way for younger viewers to familiarise themselves with the characters, plots and themes of the plays before they encounter them in a less humorous form at school! Duncan took little breaks from his storytelling to comment on the plot or dialogue, respond to comments from viewers, or explain anything that younger viewers may not have known
about. These asides were perhaps my favourite part of the sessions! Duncan is a great
entertainer and clearly a wonderful educator. I will miss the Shakespeare
Sunday sessions now that the box set has been exhausted, and I wish Shakespeare
had written more plays for Duncan to read to us. Fortunately, Charles Dickens is next in the queue for the Duncan treatment! I can't wait!

Thank you, Duncan, for all the work you put into entertaining us and bringing us
together, and thank you MASC, for supporting Duncan's fantastic live streams.

I live in Greece, but my parents, sister and nieces live in Kent. It has now been a year since I was last able to see any of them. I began to join in with Alex and Duncan’s online singing groups as a way to spend time with my family during lockdown. As a result, I’ve learnt a lot of new songs, made some lovely online friends (who I hope to meet offline one day) and been able to have fun with my family while we are apart. I live alone and work from home, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it does mean that I have had very little offline social interaction this year. Duncan and Alex’s livestreams have made me feel that I am still connected to the world, and that there is life out there! I can’t express how much I look forward to joining in with HeadStrong Singers every Monday, Shepway Youth Voices every Tuesday and Shepway Primary Singers and Shepway Voices every Wednesday. I’ve also loved recording songs with The Online Choir and Shepway Voices. It’s wonderful to have a reason to sing and creative goals to work towards at this time. Hearing the finished songs, with all of our voices put together, is a beautiful and very moving thing. Alex and Duncan put so much time, thought and energy into giving people a chance to come together online while they are unable to do so in person. Their livestreams have kept people singing during lockdown and I'm sure their cheerful, chatty personalities have lifted a lot of people's spirits over the past year. They are both so funny, open and welcoming to all of their livestream viewers and online choir members. They are great entertainers, and they make everyone feel like part of the gang. Their livestreams bring me a lot of joy, and I'm so glad that I've been able to take part in all of them. Although I am looking forward to the world opening up again, I will miss these online sessions when life goes back to normal! I'm extremely grateful to Alex and Duncan for bringing us together and keeping us all singing and smiling, and I’m also immensely grateful to MASC for enabling them to do so.

I have been a member of Shepway Voices for 3 years and I have never had so much fun as with this choir. Every Wednesday is something to look forward to and this year has been amazing with Alex organising the online choir. The time and effort put in by the choirmaster and committee makes it a real pleasure to be part of this choir.

The choir is a real joy to be a part of and when I sing with the choir I am amazed that
my little effort is part of the amazing sound we create. The choir always makes
everyone welcome and you never feel alone.
The choir has been all important this year, having our virtual rehearsals has been a
real bonus. It lifts your mood and makes you forget your woes.

Firstly, I was invited to join the choir some 3 years ago by a choir member
who was concerned for my mental well-being following the death of my wife of 60
years, a year or so earlier.  He thought I might benefit from it.   How right he was and when Lockdown came it became an even more important factor in my life.    I enjoyed the rehearsals and concerts we did pre lockdown in March 2020 and the fellowship it generated and because the organisation (MASC) is so well structured I always felt involved.

As a widower, living alone, with all my family living in other parts of the country many miles away, and with virtually all my travel stopped, the Choir has been my rock and my salvation. Through the weekly on line rehearsals and other MASC organised events such as Quiz nights, raffles etc I have found new interests and new friends and between lockdowns MASC organised meetings for groups of up to six in public places so I was suddenly meeting and talking to people again.  I even organised one coffee morning for choir members in my garden.   I have been lead through the minefield of recording my own voice and have had the satisfaction of being part of four choir recordings so far and we are in the middle of recording five more ready for Christmas.   I am  aware of other other projects that MASC  are organising  for the Community and have been able to join in with the Headstrong Choir, Shepway Primary Singers and Shepway Youth Voices.  These together with two children’s arts groups all need organising and the MASC structure does this very efficiently and effectively.    

Lastly, I must single out Alex and Duncan, our musical directors without them there would be no choirs and my thanks go to the many individual choir members who talked over the fence or phoned me, baked cakes for me, went on walks with me,  shared their families with me on Facebook etc, encouraged me by liking something I put on Facebook or by responding to my (often  stupid) comments, or forced me to have a glass of something ready for rehearsals and other events.

In conclusion MASC is a beacon of light within the Community, with its principals even organising impromptu musical events for a number of care homes during lockdown.  I am proud to feel part of it.

Just wanted to say how much I’ve enjoyed the Sing with Alex sessions.  I tuned into almost every one and, in these very strange times of Coronavirus Lockdown, it has been a ray of sunshine on an otherwise pretty bleak situation! Alex’s unfailing good humour and cheerfulness is infectious and he has brightened up the days.  I’m sorry that the sessions are now finished, but look forward to whatever comes next! I have been to every single one of these and I love them. I love how we get to sing our hearts out without feeling self concious; We only have family and maybe our neighbours to hear us, and I love that about it. It is really fun and exciting, I really like how it is something to look forward to in the day. Especially through lockdown, I think people enjoy it; its just that little push to make us carry on. Thank you.

Thank you for all you have done during Covid.  It makes some structure to  our week & has been a lovely distraction. Obviously it isn’t the same as singing in unison!   I do try to stick to second soprano but sometimes a bit lazy & just sing everyone’s part.   We don’t do online banking so when I am in your part of town I will pop a cheque thru your door.   Loved the rabbit last night!!!  Also loving the décor of Duncan’s house & the lamp before it went astray!!!

Thank you for the email, we both appreciate all that MASC is doing in these difficult times. Mary and I enjoy our weekly “practice” and realise how difficult it must be for Alex not being able to see or hear us. The comments throughout the evening make us feel a part of it. The zoom quizzes are great fun and allow us to see and feel in contact with some of our choir friends. We look forward to the time we can get together but in the meantime we appreciate all that you are doing.

I hadn't been in the choir long as I only went to a handful of sessions before lock down, but I think the online sessions are brilliant. My kids have been doing some of the Primary Singers and I've done almost all of the Shepway Voices Wednesday sessions. It's the absolute highlight of the week and has got me through some low points over the last few months.  I'm so grateful to Alex and Duncan for doing it and their energy, commitment and enthusiasm. I also really appreciate the recordings and listen to them over and over again to learn the parts. What about playing russian roulette and doing a concert the minute we can in person but without any rehearsal in person at all. I bet we could pull it off! Or it could be hilarious...... Thank you MASC for everything you do, it's fantastic

I have enjoyed the online choir rehearsals and appreciate how much time and effort everyone puts into this is Alex. I have also joined Duncan a couple of times with my grandson for toddler time and joked well done Duncan. I miss real people as we all do but realise that can't be at this time but we'll done all of you for all you do, you are amazing inspiration to us all