Makasong – Makaton Signing Choir

Having fun one song at a time!

Prior to lockdown, Makasong (a signing choir run by Makaton Tutors from TALKmoreCORNWALL CIC) met every Monday at 6pm in the Community Room at Tesco Extra in Pool. We are an inclusive community choir made up of adults
who are interested in using and learning Makaton, families and children who use
Makaton to help them communicate. When everyone was able to attend, there were
as many as 25 people in the room, with a core group of around 12.

 Makasong was started by Ellie, Founder and Director of TALKmoreCORNWALL, in February half term 2019, simply known as a ‘Makaton Signing Choir’.  Saskia joined as Co-Director in March 2019 and TALKmoreCORNWALL became a Community Interest Company.  We had a competition to name the choir and Nat (a choir member) came up with the name when she combined our love of Makaton signing with singing; Makasong.

Makasong is run on a voluntary basis; there are no fees and no requirements to attend every week. You don’t need to have any previous experience with Makaton or be able to sing! Songs are chosen by choir members.

Sometimes a song has already been translated by other Makaton Tutors, e.g. Singing
Hands or SignOutLoud, and other songs Saskia translates and shares with choir
members. We have quite an eclectic taste! Songs in our repertoire include songs
from films such as ‘A Million Dreams’ (from ‘The Greatest Showman’), ‘1000
years’ (from ‘The Twilight Saga’), to up tempo songs like ‘Shotgun’ by George
Ezra and ‘I’m on my way’ by the Proclaimers to powerful songs such as ‘Love My
Life’ (Robbie Williams) and ‘Something Inside So Strong’ (Labi Siffre).

When Covid-19 turned our world upside down and we could no
longer meet in person, some of the choir were able to continue via Zoom. We
have met at the same time, on a weekly basis, since March 30. It has been
really important to Saskia to have this routine and to continue to ‘meet’ choir
members, rehearse old songs and learn new ones, which is how our first video
came about.

Saskia was due to run a workshop on signing when reading
stories and Makasong was going to perform at the Big ReadFest at Gwealan Tops,
Redruth, on 16 May. The event was postponed and Charlotte (the organiser) asked if she could contribute something that could be shared, on their Facebook page, on the day that it had been due to take place.  Saskia thought that Makasong
could put together a video and one of the choir members suggested that we could
perform the Children in Need 2020 Lounge Allstars version of ‘Times Like These’
by the Foo Fighters. In less than two weeks, the song was translated, learned
and lines allocated to choir members. We filmed ourselves signing the song,
individually and during a Zoom session. Elizabeth a long-time choir member,
aged 14 (the age is important when you watch the video and see what she was
able to do) edited all the recordings together, added special effects and we
published it on the TALKmoreCORNWALL CIC Facebook page on 15 May 2020.

Saskia is so proud of everyone who took part and cannot
watch it without either welling up or having goose bumps! At the time of
writing this blog, our video has been viewed 14,252 times and has been shared 389
times including by our Makaton heroes, Singing Hands.

We now have the bug and are keen to do another video! We have set up a YouTube channel ‘Makasong Cornwall’ to share our videos and also a Facebook page where we share information about choir events.