Saturday, 23 November 2013

Pop Up Proms at Corton House, Norwich, 22.11.13

I was delighted to bring The Pop Up Proms Project to Corton House in Norwich last night. 

About forty residents attended, including some of the more able residents from the sheltered housing part of the complex.

Here's a video of one resident joining in with the well-known Gilbert & Sullivan number 'A Policeman's Lot is Not A Happy One'...ably assisted by Proms volunteer performer, Gus.

Lots more photos in the photo gallery above.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

Remembering the Past for the Future

I am delighted to report that, following my small publicity campaign, we have THREE definite bookings for more Pop Up Proms concerts, for January, February and March 2014. RESULT!

I'm very excited about the progress of the project. But with all the ballyhoo of the performances it's perhaps easy to forget the other important aspect of the project; the oral history. Click here for a link to an explanation of Oral History in Wikipedia.
Christina did sterling work at our first concert and captured some beautiful reminiscences from our audience members. These will be held at the Sound Archive, which is part of the Norfolk Record Office, and will eventually be studied for their local accents then made available for education and research (see the Norfolk Records Office page of this blog for more info).

I am consulting with Norfolk Museums and Archaeology Service about possibilities for also using our recordings as soundscapes for temporary exhibitions.

My target is for ten concerts, so these bookings take us to the half way mark. We are steadily getting there! As always, my enormous thanks are due to my band of happy Prommers who give so generously of their time and talents- I could not do it without you!

If you would like to join the Pop Up Proms Project or book a concert, please click here to find my contact details, or use the little contact sheet on the right of the page.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Going Public

This week I was delighted to see a small feature on this project published in our local free paper. Hopefully people will read it, and  phone me without delay to make a booking for 2014.

I have been posting leaflets to many of the care homes and nursing homes in Norfolk- I didn't realise there were so many- and I've also had interest from the EDP newspaper itself, although it's proving difficult to get together enough of my team of volunteers at one time to create a decent photograph! It may end up being just me and the cat…

If you are a new reader to this blog, and you happen to know someone working or living in a venue that cares for the elderly, please do spread the word! We want to help, and its free- there really is no catch at all!

My phone number is 01508 570620. For full contact details, click on the 'Contact The Organiser' page of this blog, or of course you can use the contact widget thingy at the right-hand side of the page.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Spreading a Little Happiness

Some brief reflections on yesterday's Pop Up Proms concert at Brooklands Care Home in Drayton.

Just one picture for now.
But a picture tells a thousand words, and we've got some fantastic photos of last night's audience having a whale of a time at our very first Pop Up Proms concert. When I have the relevant permissions I'll set up a photo gallery.

But until then, I will attempt to illustrate the concert myself. 

It went very well indeed. About thirty residents attended, which was, apparently, an excellent turnout. Some residents' family members also came, and of course, the staff and carers popped in and out as well. Brooklands staff helped decorate the room with red, white and blue bunting and flags- it looked a proper Proms treat.

We were in the residents' lounge, a largish, low-ceilinged room, with comfy chairs and sofas arranged in a circle around the edge - and a huge pillar in the centre. We worked around it!

As we waited to begin our show, Christina set to work capturing those all important reminiscences from some of our elderly audience.

After a short introduction from me, Martyn kicked off the show with 'Oh What a Beautiful Morning'. Any fears we may have had about people not joining in with the singing were instantly allayed. EVERYONE joined in! It was brilliant.

They continued to join in (in some cases even when we didn't ask!) throughout the whole show. All the performers did wonderfully. Highlights for us all were the lady who danced to every song and the lady who loved the Matt Munroe medley. And how could we ever forget Joanie's rendition of Big Spender - sung from the laps of various surprised and delighted elderly gentlemen?!

The timings went according to plan and the last 15 minutes, set aside for our special 'Proms Finale', arrived in a flash. Armed with lyrics sheets to sing from and Union Jack flags to wave, our audience enthusiastically participated throughout 'Land of Hope and Glory' and 'Jerusalem', and our final number, 'Rule Britannia'!

Christina managed to capture some more recordings as we tidied our things away. The staff were thrilled with the hour's entertainment and commented on what an extremely positive experience the visit from the Pop Up Proms Project had been for all concerned.

All in all, a good evening's work. And home by 8.30!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Changed Running Order for Pop Up Proms 19th October

Due to circumstances beyond anyone's control, we probably have two fewer performers on Saturday night. Therefore we have a new running order and here it is...

1 Martyn- Oh What A Beautiful Morning
2 Rachel- Cain't Say No
3 Sally - Oom pah pah
4 Martyn- Be My Love
5 Izzy- If I Loved You
6 Joanie- Viva Espana
7 Rachel- Que sera sera
8 Izzy- I Could Have Danced All Night
9 Joanie- Big Spender
10 Izzy- Think of Me
11 Martyn - Matt Monroe Medley
12 Rachel- Oh Mr Porter
13 Rachel- My Old Man Said Follow The Van
14 Joanie- Sempre Libre (or something else classical) 
15 All- Proms Finale: Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, Land of H&G.

By the way, if Cassie and/or Selwyn ARE able to participate on Saturday after all, we'll revert to the previous running order. But assume it's this one unless I tell you any different!

Many, many thanks my lovely flexible friends xx

Monday, 7 October 2013

Pop Up Proms Running Order 19th October.

A hearty good day to you all, and thank you again for volunteering your time and talents for this project. Are you gearing up for some singing to amuse our local elderly folk?! Keep reading...

Here's some useful info for Pop Up Proms on 19th October at Brooklands in Drayton.

Venue: Brooklands Residential Care Home, Costessey Lane, Drayton, Norwich, NR8 6HB.
N.B. We are performing 'in the round' because there is a massive pillar in the centre of the room.

Timings: 'Curtain Up' (although there's no curtain) at 6.30 pm. I'll be there from 5.30pm. Please arrive any time after 5.30- allow whatever time you think you will need to prepare yourself! The concert should end no later than 7.30, because our audience will be tired by then.

Clothing: Please include some element of red, white, and/or blue if possible. Anyone wearing a skirt or dress, please make it below the knee in length please! (Martyn WILL keep putting on his mini skirt: inappropriate...). There's a slim possibility I'll also be wearing some sparkly jewellery. Please feel free to join me.

Backing tracks: Please LABEL your cd with YOUR NAME, your SONG NAME(S) and TRACK NUMBERS so that whoever happens to be pressing 'play' for you has a chance of playing the right track.

Props: Please bring whatever props -if any- that you consider necessary for your own songs. Please also bring any Union Jack flags or hats you may have, to wave/wear during the Proms Section at the end of the  concert. I will provide lyrics on the day for Rule Britannia, Jerusalem and Land of H&G.

Running Order:*
1 Martyn- Be My Love
2 Cassie-  Broadway Baby
3 Sally - Oom pah pah
4 Selwyn- Albert and the Lion
5 Izzy- If I Loved You
6 Joanie- Viva Espana
7 Rachel- Que sera sera
8 Selwyn- The Guinea Pig 
9 Cassie- Madeira
10 Izzy- Think of Me
11 Martyn - Matt Monroe Medley
12 Joanie- Big Spender
13 Rachel- Oh Mr Porter
14 Rachel- My Old Man said Follow The Van
15 All- Proms Finale: Rule Britannia, Jerusalem, Land of H&G.
*This is it unless you hear differently from me!

Monday, 16 September 2013

19th October at Brooklands info

A bit of info for those performing and/or helping at the First Ever Pop Up Proms concert on 19th October.

The venue is Brooklands residential home, Costessey Lane, Drayton, near Norwich. Here's a link to their website:

The timings are not confirmed yet but it will be early evening due to the age and fragility of our audience- I would estimate starting the show at about 6.30pm. 

I am visiting Brooklands on 27th September to finalise the details, so I will issue a full update after that!

As per yesterday's FB post, I'm asking everyone to prepare two songs to sing. As we go through the year, and depending on how many performers are able to do each show, I may have to ask you to do more or less than two as the occasion demands, but two will do for starters.

I assume everyone knows the tunes of 'Jerusalem', 'Rule Britannia' and 'Land of Hope and Glory'. 

Just in case, here are some links to You Tube showing them from this year's Last Night of the Proms:

Rule Britannia

Land of Hope and Glory (starts at 2.02mins)

Jerusalem (starts after Marin's speech, at 8.00mins)

Heather or I will be doing the verse of Rule Britannia, depending on which of us is present. We will not be doing Auld Lang Syne or the National Anthem, even though they are included on the You Tube clip.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Poster for Pop-Up Proms Bookers

I have created this simple poster for use in whichever venues we visit. As you can see, it has a blank section so that bookers can fill in details of their venue, date, time and any other necessary details. 

If you are a booker and you would like to download this poster to print off, please do!

If for any reason you are unable to, please email me at and I will happily send you an attachment by email to print off. I'll even email you a black and white version if you don't have a colour printer! 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Pop Up Proms Project Reminiscence Archives

"Ah yes- I remember it well" or so the song goes.

Avid readers of this blog (and we've had a whole 165 visits, so I'm hoping to have stirred up some avidity amongst my readership) will know that as well as the entertainment side of the Pop Up Proms Project, there is the audio archive side.

The idea of the audio archive is to produce a record of the impact and benefits of the entertainment.

It is also to create recordings of our elderly audiences talking about the role music may have played in their lives.

I'm thrilled to say I've been working with the Norfolk Record Office on this side of it, and their sound archivist, Jonathan, is more than happy to make our recordings part of the official archive FOREVER.

Jonathan gave me some practical advice on doing the recordings, and this will stand us in very good stead. More on that as and when required.

He also said he's particularly keen to record older Norfolk voices in order to study the variations in dialect from place to place within the county. Most born and bred East Anglians recognise the difference between a Norwich and a Norfolk accent, for example, but Jonathan wishes to trace examples of more subtle variations while they can still be heard via the older generations, before we all start speaking like what they do in 'Essicks'.*

I will continue to update this blog with detailed info as it becomes apparent it is needed. And I will, of course, continue to harangue you all mercilessly via social media and possibly even in person.

Again, thank you all so much for your support and enthusiasm for this project. It goes without saying that I couldn't do it without you, but I'll say it anyway. Thank you, thank you, you lovely lovely bunch of Divas and Divos.

*I am allowed to do Essex jokes 'cos I live with an Essex man. Essex is lovely apparently.


Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Suggested (not suggestive!) Songs for Pop Up Proms

People are asking me for suggestions !!

Here's a list of the types of songs I think would work for our Pop Up Proms audiences. It's not exhaustive, it's just a list to get people started, but it gives a good idea of what's suitable. The over-reaching theme is 'WELL KNOWN' for people born in the 1920s and 30s, with a chorus or 'hook' they can join in with. You'll notice there's no Thrash Metal or Punk, for example...

Of course if you've got an idea to do a song (or indeed a poem - think Stanley Holloway) along these sort of lines and it's not on this list- that's fine.

Remember you will need to get hold of a backing track on CD for your song if you don't already have it.

Good places to get hold of backing tracks are, in the first instance, ME ! So do ask. Also you can try Martyn Shults, Michael Dann or Tracy Melton (we're all on thePop Up Proms Facebook Group so you can contact any of us that way).

In the unlikely event that between us we don't have your choice, most popular tracks can be very easily obtained from websites like Ameritz or NAP Music for literally a matter of about 79p.

Here are my suggestions, anyway:
  • Gilbert & Sullivan e.g.  Modern Major General/ I've Got A Little List/ The Nightmare Song etc
  • Old Time Music Hall e.g. My Old Man said Follow The Van/ Down at the Old Bull and Bush etc
  • 1920s /30s e.g. Fred Astaire film music eg Top Hat/ Puttin on the Ritz etc, or Judy Garland eg Somewhere Over The Rainbow
  • 1950s /60s Anything by Doris Day (Que Sera Sera?) / Cliff Richard/ Bing Crosby/ Sinatra/ Matt Monroe etc, or Flanders & Swann eg The Gnu/ The Hippo ('Mud, mud glorious mud')
  • Showtunes:
Rogers & Hammerstein style rather than Kander & Ebb or Sondheim!
I suggest songs from
Oklahoma (Oh What a Beautiful Morning)
Annie Get Ya Gun
Calamity Jane
My Fair Lady (Danced all Night/Wouldn't it be Luvverly)
The King & I (Whistle a Happy Tune)
Oliver (Oom Pah Pah)
South Pacific (Happy Talk/ Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair)
and so on...

Picture from 
And then at the end we will finish with all of us singing together
Land Of Hope And Glory
Rule Britannia

Thank you all once again for your enthusiasm and support- hope this list helps with finding your songs.

Here are some songs people have already told me they're doing (these are all well known but at the moment we still need more participatory stuff ) :

  • A Policeman's Lot is Not a Happy One (G&S)- Gus
  • This Nearly Was Mine (South Pacific)- Gus
  • Born Free/Portrait of My Love (Matt Monroe)- Martyn
  • Be My Love (Mario Lanza)- Martyn
  • Secret Love (Calamity Jane)- Heather
  • The Guinea Pig (F&S) -Selwyn
  • Albert and the Lion (poem)- Selwyn
  • If I Loved You- Izzy
I will just fit into the gaps...!


Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Your Pop-Up Proms Needs YOU (whether you sing or not)

My last blog posting contained a bit of detail for the volunteers wanting to sing and perform. This post is for the volunteers doing the other -equally important- stuff.

As you know, The Pop-Up Proms Project is a smiley happy voluntary thingy which I hope will bring as many positive benefits to the volunteers as it will to our audiences. The project has two main thrusts.

'"THRUST" that's a good word, isn't it? "THRUST"'(-one for the 'Miranda' fans...)

The two THRUSTS are:
1) The giving of free entertainment to elderly people in homes and day centres, and all the attached benefits to those people, such as social interaction, a bit of fun, gentle exercise, and sharing reminiscences.
2) The Audio Archive- collecting and recording the memories evoked by the music.

For those wishing to volunteer but not currently (or ever!) performing, there are various things which need to be done in order to achieve both THRUSTS of the project.

Here's a list. Please do let me know which of these you might feel comfortable doing...
  • coming along and not doing a solo performance, but mingling as part of the audience and joining in to help get everyone else going in the joiny-inny bits.
  • coming along to chat informally to audience members about the music, and encouraging them to think about memories and associations they may have to these, or any other, songs (ie "Is this a song you've heard before? Is it a favourite of yours? What was the first record you bought? etc).
  • occasionally using a small digital audio recording device to record some of the recollections for the archive as you chat- with the permission of the participants, of course... 
  • gently hassling people beforehand to donate red, white and blue stuff like bunting, flags or balloons for us to decorate the rooms with for performances.
  • helping decorating the rooms before performances- nothing fancy; about ten minutes of putting up a bit of bunting and arranging some chairs.
  • photocopying lyrics sheets for the audience.
  • pressing 'play' on the CD player.
  • mentioning The Pop-Up Proms Project to people when appropriate, to help get us a few more bookings.
  • anything else helpful you can think of! 
If these things sound feasible, please let me know. And if at any point you decide you'd like to have a go at performing after all - brilliant!

As always, email me or send an FB message if you have any questions. Or, let's be radical, you could even phone me direct!

'THRUST. Ooh, its gone weird now...'

Monday, 26 August 2013

Important Stuff Pop-Up Proms Performers Need To Know

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our first booking!

  • It will be on Friday 22nd November at Corton House in Norwich. Exact time tbc, but likely to be singing at about 7pm, for definitely no more than an hour.
  • The mood will be informal and jolly- they are REALLY looking forward to our visit!
Because we will have a different combination of performers available for each concert, each performer needs to be self sufficient.
  • This means, whatever you decide to sing, you will need to bring  your own backing track on cd.
  • Because Pop-Up Proms is a group of volunteers (once again, thank you all so much!) rather than a theatrical company, we won't have any rehearsals. I'm depending on all performers being experienced and confident enough to turn up, put on their cd track, and sing.
  • I will supply the CD player.
  • I would like performers to choose at least two songs to perform  (ones you're completely confident with)
  • At least one of your choices needs to have a participative element such as a chorus the audience can join in with, or clapping along, or doing actions...whatever floats your boat. It's your time to shine!
  • Your other song choices can be, again, whatever you're confident with. Any era as long as the song is really well known.
  • EXCEPTION: 1940s! Apparently our audiences have heard 'It's a Long Way to Tipperary', 'Roll Out the Barrel', 'We'll Meet Again' and the like more times than they care to remember... No 40s stuff, thanks!
  • I will need to know what you'd like to sing about a week to ten days in advance so I can put together a rough running order for each concert.
  • In between your own songs I would really love all the performers to mingle in the audience and join in with the participative bits of other people's songs, and help get the audience going.

And finally...

When I was a teenager, about twenty something years ago, my own singing teacher took me and other pupils to many care homes for the elderly, to sing and entertain. It was a fabulous way to gain experience and confidence as a performer, in a relatively informal setting, and I've continued to sing to similar types of audience ever since.

During these concerts I learned many things.

One thing was, not to be put off by people falling asleep during your songs.
Another was not to be put off by people talking, loudly, and sometimes about you, while you're singing.
Another was that it's extremely humbling to do it (I know, people use that word too lightly, but in this case it's true). The residents in care homes are so pleased to see you bothering to come and entertain them.
These very elderly and sometimes very frail folk love seeing people who are younger and vibrant and smiley and happy.

If we can put aside the endless ifs and buts of putting a concert together for a moment, it really is just about turning up and singing.
And if, my dear, lovely performers, you come and give your time and your talents for these dear, lovely people, you won't regret it. I promise.

Any questions, email me or send me an FB message.

Thanks again for volunteering xx

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Pop Up Proms Project Audio Archive

I threatened to talk more about the reminiscencing aspect of the Pop-Up Proms Project last time. So to make good my threat, here's what's happening (hopefully).

Each time we perform we'll be building in time to talk to the people in the audience; after all, participation is what it's all about. I'll be asking the folks in the audience to tell us about any memories, feelings or associations the music may have stirred up, and I'll be making an audio recording of what they say (with their permission, of course).

What is the point of making these recordings?

  • This project is designed to help increase social interaction for our elderly audience members within their existing group.  Locally and individually, keeping evidence of a community project like this acts as a reminder for the participants and helps add to their sense of 'belonging' and shared identity.
  • Regionally, capturing reminiscences like this in audio 'snapshot' format is a way to gather original source material for local and social history museums and archives to hold and keep safe for generations to come. 
  • Having the opportunity to hear real voices singing and talking about real songs will help history seem more 'real' for pupils, students and teachers in the future. 

What will happen to these recordings?

At the moment there are two possibilities:

  • They'll be added to the Sound Archive at the Norfolk Records Office and held for posterity and educational purposes.
  • I'll continue to build links between this project and Norfolk Museums & Archaeology Service- specifically, bringing an audio element to some planned work on the 1950s displays at Gressenhall Farm & Workhouse. 


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

What is The Pop-Up Proms Project?

The Pop Up Proms Project is something I've been thinking of doing for ages. Initially, I'll run it from September 2013 to the end of August 2014.

I've got together a group of performers who are all happy to offer their time and talent completely free, to go out to residential care homes and day-centres for the elderly people of Norfolk and have a good sing.

It's not designed as a performance where we sing and the audience applauds at the end. The whole point is for the audience to join in. For example,

You know the brilliant joiny-inny bit at the end of the Last Night Of The Proms? That.

Fans at a football match lustily serenading their team? That.

Finding yourself enjoyably warbling along to Songs Of Praise on the telly? That.

That is the spirit of what we're trying to do with Pop Up Proms. All of that joy and exuberance that a shared experience of music creates, that's what we want to create for our audiences.

So our aims are simple:
  • To provide free entertainment for the older ladies and gents in our county.
  • To provide the elderly with an opportunity for participation in uplifting singing in a relaxed and familiar environment.
  • To give opportunities for extra social interaction.
  • To give opportunities for personal reminiscences and sharing memories
There'll be more on that last one later.

I'll be using this blog as a notice board and information centre for performers and bookers alike, so do please come back for updates!