Rehearsals took a different form in the Belmont Room of the Harrow Arts Centre last night. There were soft drinks, wine and tasty ‘amuse bouche’ on offer; more seats set out than usual, but not grouped in four sections and turned 90 degrees to face the projector screen ready for the presentation of the Harrow Apollo Male Choir’s new website.
The singing members, mostly in their blue sweatshirts, associate members, music team and friends of the choir, who had managed to battle their way through the particularly heavy traffic, helped themselves to refreshments and mingled, while Avis Gerry, principal accompanist, played some incidental music. There was a pleasant atmosphere with an underlying buzz of anticipation.
Having sent an invitation to the choir’s patron, the Mayor of Harrow, the Harrow Apollo Male Choir was privileged that although, Madame Mayor was unable to attend herself, Deputy Mayor, Councillor Kairul Kareema Marikar was able to join us for this special event. The Choir is proud of its association with Harrow and is privileged to perform at several Borough Events throughout the year.
To paraphrase a well-known nautical saying: smooth running of events, never made a skilled choir. The lack of internet access due to technical issues could have led to a non-event. However, with some technical wizardry – powers he didn’t know he possessed – the Treasurer managed to connect his mobile phone to his wife’s laptop and access to the World Wide Web, and in particular www.harrow-apollo-male-choir.org, became available and the presentation was duly given. Following an introduction from the Music Director, who said, among other things:
“I regard this whole subject as so important that I had no hesitation in agreeing to use valuable rehearsal time to allow this presentation and I hope that everybody here will enthusiastically embrace it.”
The audience was shown a variety of pages from the public site and how to navigate them. With an average membership age of 70.9, negotiating a website is a steep learning curve for some. The Internet connection went down for a while, just as the private Members’ area of the site was being demonstrated but the “show must go on” and it did. A short while later the connection was restored. The audience was able to see that there was a large file area for accessing all sort of documents pertaining to the choir; plus, a learning and development area including singing “Teach Tracks;” written feedback on rehearsals, performances and competitions and other useful resources on improving singing technique. There is also a virtual board for important notices and a private blog for members, who may wish to share any personal news.
Following the presentation Deputy Mayor, Councillor Kairul Kareema Marikar was asked to say a few words. She thanked the Choir for the opportunity to attend this event and support the choir and said that she would like to become an associate member, duly paying her fees before she left. She spoke enthusiastically about singing and the importance of belonging to a choir. It became apparent that she had sung with us as part of More Than Just A Choir at the Metropolitan Police, Harrow Borough’s Christmas Carol Service at St John’s Church, Greenhill in December. She also promised to follow the choir on Facebook and Twitter. Hopefully, HAMC will have future opportunities to return the favour by performing in support of fundraising events at the Councillor’s invitation.
The website and the Launch event were generally very well received. An entrance and exit poll was used to gauge the attendees’ views. Of the 59 people present the entrance poll had a turnout of 52.5% and the exit poll had a turnout of 42%, which was slightly disappointing. The results are as follows (percentages given are calculated on the total number of votes cast in each poll):
No one, on either entrance or exit cast a vote for “I don’ t think the choir needs a website. I am unlikely to use it,” which was very encouraging.
26% (8 votes) on entrance and 8% (2 votes) on exit were cast for “I think the choir needs a website for public promotion, but I am unlikely to use it.”
74% (23 votes) on entrance and 92% (23 votes) on exit were cast for “I think the website is a good idea. It is a useful tool and I am likely to use it quite frequently.”
To a statistician the numbers involved may be statistically insignificant but combined with the number of positive verbal and written comments received durin and immediately after the event, there is hope that the HAMC membership will find the website beneficial and use it to good effect. Time will tell. This paragraph will be updated further when more written feedback forms have been received and analysed.
The evening ended with the Choir singing a rousing chorus of American Trilogy.
HAMC is very grateful for the excellent support, patient guidance and service it received in setting up and developing the new website from Iman Fadaei, co-founder of Crowdskills (www.crowdskills.com mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org). The Choir looks forward to continuing this relationship with further planned website developments, in the near future, such as adding a Paypal facility to enable online booking and purchasing of concert tickets and other items, such as branded sweatshirts. HAMC is also indebted to Nigel Brewer of Cue Media, for a smooth and speedy transition to the new website host and for continuing to maintain the site’s domain name for a nominal annual fee.