When wE the started meeting on Zoom way back in March, we had two hosts in Matt Richards and Simon Rose. Eventually, they were joined by Cyprus-based Andrew Pepper. The hosts will control the meeting and select and play the music for the nightly get-together.On Thursday 23 July I was delighted to host my very first Zoom session. When the group was first formed we would start all sessions at 7 PM but it was found to be more convenient for the hosts to start the mid-week meetings at 6 pm and the weekend meetings still at 7 pm.
Thursday - a 7 pm start
Now, with people starting to return to work, reverting to our original start time of 7 pm just for Thursday nights might offer a more convenient time.Judging by my first meeting, this is the case. We achieved fifty screens with fifty-five people on them, from all over the UK plus friends from Germany, the USA, Canada, and Cyprus.Having being MC for the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle for quite some years now, this Zoom session allowed me to get back on stage for a while and please, believe me, I enjoyed myself immensely! The joy of hosting the group far outweighed any bumps and blunders that might have occurred on commencing my hosting journey and whilst my little boat might have sprung a leak now and again, we sailed on quite nicely to be greeted on the opposite shore by lots of happy zoomers!The comments I received afterwards on the group's social media page meant so much to me and frankly, I can't wait for the next Thursday session when I can encourage the group once more, to chant our new battle cry, MUTE ALL!
So dear reader, if you have not already joined us, I invite you to do so. To be with the nightly Zoomers is no different to being at a branch or a convention meeting, they are all such a friendly bunch and everyone is made to feel welcome.The group also provide the answer to members in far-flung places who have nothing around them and are too far away from Blackpool. It is the gift that keeps on giving, friendship and uke practise to suit all, just try it!PP - 29/07/2020
technique is the closest to George Formby or that you are a complete beginner. Owing to internet latency issues, all the zoom players are muted before each song. So whilst you can see everyone on screen, the only person you can hear is yourself, plus of course, the backing track. After the song, everyone is un-muted and the chat continues.Frankly, all that matters is that you are there, you are part of The Zoom Group, the group that has already received national media coverage for the wonderful locked-down version of "The Window Cleaner" which Matt Richards brilliantly edited so well, it gave the GFS the only notable publicity that they have managed to achieve in the year 2020. When I say notable, I am referring to national TV stations on prime-time news and national and regional news outlets. Publicity that would cost a fortune if we had to pay for it, but all gained courtesy of Matt and the GFS Zoomers for free!
The Zoomers have their own Facebook page and can boast a membership of the group of over 200 but therein lies a conundrum! Our nightly attendances will range from the low twenties into the high fifties. So how come we have over 200 members? Where are they? This also poses another question to me, we are all members of the GFS and given all the evidence of the success and publicity that we have gained for our group, why do we not attract more of our playing members?There are so many players who strive to be on the Blackpool stage, but strangely we never see or hear from within the Zoom groupGranted, some of those members will have good reasons for not joining us, some may not have a computer or perhaps may be working at the times that we play. We play every night of the week, at times of either 6 pm or 7 pm and the Zoom application is available for smartphones, tablets of all descriptions and Mac and Windows PCs. In short, it is a universal app.
zoom update - mute all
The Zoom adventure continues
Red Letter Days
Every time we make the trip to Blackpool to any one of the four annual conventions, I feel that they are such red-letter days in our GFS lives! Something whereby we all come back home with great memories of a unique Formby weekend, and that has been happening for me now for almost 30 years! I am lucky, living where I do, we have a George Formby meeting virtually every week with GFS branches and the Yorkshire Ukulele Circle.
Sadly those Formby meetings in 2020 are no longer a part of our George Formby calendar. The culprit is the Covid-19 world pandemic and owing to lock-down there is nothing to look forward to whilst this accursed disease is with us. No branch meetings, no Yorkshire Ukulele Circle meetings. In a nutshell, my GFS diary is just a set of blank pages with nothing on the horizon that might lift our spirits whilst we navigate our way through such uncertain and dangerous times. However, that last statement is not quite correct.
Zoom brings us together!
There is still one unique and wonderful event that takes place not quarterly, monthly or even weekly, but every night of the week! I am of course referring to the wonderful Zoom group of GFS members.A group of ordinary people who happen to share a love of Formby and his uke, have decided to make the best of a bad situation and come together to play, sing and laugh - together. That is the vital word! All made possible by a clever computer app called Zoom.The Zoom application is not intended for music but is ideal for large groups of people to get together and the way the GFS Zoomers have adapted the app to their needs is brilliant!
No stars on Zoom!
In our Zoom meetings, there are no stars, it does not matter who has the best or the worst instrument, it does not matter whether your voice has operatic qualities or that you are the worst tone-deaf person in the world, it does not matter if your playing