HMP Peterborough, December 2019
On Thursday 12 December 2019 a team of seven volunteers from Cambridge visited HMP Peterborough for a day-long Christmas-themed workshop and performance.
After arriving early, we moved smoothly through security and got set up in the dance studio (which had a great acoustic!) where the workshop was to take place. The participants soon arrived, and it was great to see some of them remember our group leader, Nina, from a previous visit and fondly welcome her back.
After warming up with energetic clapping and vocal games, we started to learn some Christmas songs. These included ‘Let It Snow’ and an a cappella version of ‘Jingle Bells’ with some lovely harmonies. Some particularly keen and talented participants impressed us with their willingness to sing solos and provide rhythmic accompaniment with clapping and stomping. One participant even used the lunch break to devise a very impressive rap of one of the verses in ‘Away in a Manger’ - it was incredibly imaginative and we were thrilled that the workshop had sparked such creativity.
The morning session concluded with a performance by the Cambridge volunteers of Hark the Herald (complete with soprano descant) and, at the participants’ request, some individual demonstrations of our singing. This was really well received, and it was gratifying to perform to such an enthusiastic and interested audience.
After lunch, we recapped everything that we had learnt that morning. The day then culminated in a concert showcasing what we had achieved to a group of prison staff and other residents. It was a lovely, supportive atmosphere, and the audience was very complementary of our efforts.
We then said goodbye to the participants, who expressed their thanks and their enjoyment of the day. Likewise, we all had a great time - we were impressed at the enthusiasm and talent on display and are looking forward to being able to participate in more visits with Sing Inside in the future. The day was a lovely reminder of how music can bring people together, and was particularly heart-warming in the lead up to Christmas. We are grateful to the staff at HMP Peterborough for welcoming us and to the participants for being wonderful to work with.
Freya Rock, Cambridge volunteer