The Inspiration - The Roof of Africa
The story and inspiration behind TuneIN.
by Lisa Anderson
It all started back in January 2014, as I reminisced about what I did the year before.
I gave up new year resolution setting years ago but do like the start of the year to reflect on where I had been, what I wanted to achieve and where was I heading!
So picture this - I had always wanted to climb Killy, and when the opportunity arose I jumped at it and dragged 6 mates with me in the process. Our lead guide Ritchie was a legend! He led a bunch of 27 individuals, each with their own objectives for the climb, differing skills and fitness levels, he brushed aside everyones differences, stuck to the team objective to get everyone safely to the top and back. In a week the 27 became a group of mountain trekkers, that understood they were stronger together and created a camaraderie amongst each other that is still prevalent today.
Being led by a stranger to achieve a personal goal inspired me to focus on how to get the best out of people in 2014. The workplace is not the only place to discover your strengths and weaknesses; often your greatest triumphs in your personal life is when you deal with being out of your comfort zone head on and are not constrained by others perceptions of you , but are encouraged to succeed by the support you have.
For me - the mountain physically and mentally challenged me far greater than I had anticipated. I was not prepared for the amount of solitude spent just walking and thinking and what impact it had on me views of myself, without being distracted by the usual stress of everyday life!
Each day the only decision I had was which foot would I put in front of the other, and the climb also gave me the opportunity to just be me! The support from the guides and each other was key to our success, and after the trip I wondered if I would ever be able to replicate the experience I obtained and the lessons that I learnt from Killy. The daily grind whittled away the euphoria from the Killy achievement, and it soon became a fond memory, dinner table banter and the odd thoughts about the splendour....then BOOM!....Christmas 2013 was fast approaching...and a new challenge was on the horizon.
How can you inspire others if you cannot inspire yourself? So I thought about what I could do in 2014, after the giddy heights (literally) of climbing Kilimanjaro, Tanzania in January 2013.
In the Shape of a Christmas Gift
The Birth Of TuneIN
What began as a chat about Christmas presents turned into a great fundraising opportunity.
TuneIN co-founder, Lisa Anderson, known for giving distinctive gifts, had decided that she wanted to give 4 of her friends singing lessons. So In December 2013 Lisa and I sat in a coffee shop in North London to work out how best to deliver them. By the time we finished our coffees the concept of forming the TuneIN choir was born.
The idea of using the choir to raise money for charity came about because we are both involved with Alzheimer’s charities. Earlier that year Lisa and a group of her friends raised a considerable sum for Alzheimer’s UK by climbing Kilimanjaro. I’d spent that summer helping my sister raise funds for her work with Alzheimer’s Jamaica. Both of them are great causes in need of support.
Alzheimer’s Jamaica are so touched that people from the other side of the world are willing to help them carry out their vital work. How could we not help? They currently don’t have a website, they are struggling to find enough staff and their efforts to open another unit to care for the ever-growing demand for their services is nothing short of heroic.
The Journey Begins
In January 2014 a group of people gathered at Lisa’s home for first meeting of what was to become the TuneIN choir. As I looked at those expectant faces I wondered how they were going to react to the challenge I had laid out for them. I knew that like many people some of them had major issues around singing. I felt they would need to summon up courage similar to that shown by Lisa and her friends for the their ascent of Kilimanjaro
How would they cope with learning 4 part harmonies? When I told them they would have to learn, record and sing 3 songs they questioned whether it was possible. And as they shared their individual experiences of singing it was clear that many of them were prepared to dig deep in order to complete this adventure. My question to myself was, ‘Would I be the right guide for this journey?’
Well, there have been a few highs and lows, laughter and tears, missteps and triumphs since our official first official rehearsal in the boardroom of a bank in St Pauls. 23 people, including my sister, Janet, who had travelled from Birmingham, were eager to learn and ready to sing. With my lovely wife, Tanya, on keyboard I took them through their paces and we attempted our first song. By the end of that first two-hour session we were a choir.
What I was proud of then and doubly proud of now is how this remarkable group of friends have laid aside past fears and have overcome great obstacles. Before this process began some of them didn’t even have the confidence to sing in private. Now they are ready and willing to stand proud and sing aloud for this great cause. I salute their courage and determination. And I thank all those who have supported us along the way. Musicians, photographers, graphic designers and sound engineers have all come forward and made the TuneIN journey a thoroughly rewarding experience.
TuneIN Choirmaster and Vocal Coach
The Inspiration - The Name
The name “TuneIN” was devised by Norman Bailey and I, as we worked on the thoughts that I had on bringing family and friends together to tune into something other than sponsored sport events to tune into raising money for Alzheimer's Society and Alzheimer's Jamaica.
The MADness began (Making A Difference)
February 2014, Norman, Tanya and I spent time with identifying the songs- making sure the words had the appropriate message we wanted to convey through singing. A lot of planning kicked in as soon as the name and songs were set. Defining role and responsibilities, setting up the basic logistics and of course liaising with both the UK & Jamaica charities to get their buy-in.
From March through to October we had at least one singing lesson a month, people coming and going, dealing with the logistics, the moaning, the peaks and troughs of rookie singers — Divas in the making.....not! Just people juggling their lives!
From within the group, budding poets formed and the spoken words were all made. The process was expanding organically. Behind the scenes I was responsible for logistics - basically everything except the vocal tuition! I was out of my comfort zone for sure.....asking for discounts or free services, for a group of singers that were raising money for charity… some of those phone calls were a bit random when you look back on it! Still if you don't ask you don't get!
During the summer we had a new addition to the crew, Kate Young, a West End Theatre MD, her role was to whip us into shape and be the lead pianist and work with Norman on creating the four part harmonies.....it was a very full on summer.
All the above and a host more has been carried out with gusto, and the target of recording the tracks for the CD ahead of the gala. We were still on point , but there was a huge realisation of how much effort had been put, but we still had a long way to go.
Wow - the first recording studio all -dayer was a blast! 8 hours to lay down 3 songs and 4 spoken word items.
There was a lot of nervous energy at Resident Studio....TuneIN were in the house!
With 22 singers, 1 musical director and 1 vocal trainer, this is where the camaraderie really shone through and just like Killy the support was overwhelming yet reassuring at the same time. The TuneIN team pulled together, supported each other and we pulled it off!
But in amongst all that effort and energy we had to face reality and regroup after Christmas to focus on fine tuning the recordings, and agreeing on readiness for the gala....it ain’t over until its over!
This was like summit night - how do you keep the momentum going when energy levels were depleting?
In the case of TuneIN we reach such a peak with the 1st recording to then push and drive again was all about them team....if you are in it, then be present.
This was the business end of the process, the creation of the CD and preparation for the Gala - a one night show in London to raise awareness of Alzheimer's and raise money for both charities by raising the roof with our voices.
So sit back and enjoy our dulcet tones.