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102. AN AMBERLEY AWAKENING They say that music can rejuvenate the soul, and that was what I was hoping for on Saturday 10th November as I arrived in leafy Amberley for the 2018 CMVic Singing Camp on a beautiful sunny morning.  I had been struggling with my own emotional demons the day before so I was hoping to find my centre; my support again.  Perhaps music could reorganise my brain’s foggy neural connections again into something clearer?

101. UKESTRAS: SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITY MUSICIANSHIP IN THE THIRD SPACE  Mark Jackson knew he was doing something right when a member from one of his nine Ukestras informed him that she was ‘too busy seeing friends’ to come and play. “My number one ticket holder said, “Sorry I can’t come to Uke today, I’m playing cards with my new friends, you don’t know what you’ve done with the ukulele, it’s been fantastic.”

100. TAKETINA: AS EASY AS ONE, TWO, THREE?  Each year CMVic budgets for a day when all the workers, paid and unpaid, are invited to get together and do something as a team. This year we gathered at the Body Voice Centre in Footscray and had an introduction to TaKeTiNa. Ever heard of it? I hadn't.

99A TRIBUTE TO RICHARD GILL BY HEATHER MCLAUGHLIN In recent days the media has been full of news of the sad loss of Richard Gill – conductor, teacher, composer, and powerful advocate for school and community music. Many will remember him as the somewhat eccentric man with a shock of white hair representing classical music on “Spicks and Specks”.

98. GETTING BIG FEMINISTS SINGING!  On Feb 5th this year I posted in a private feminist group I belong to, the following: “Random thought for all singers (everyone) in this group: If I was to start a casual Inner North FEMINIST CHOIR, who would be interested? Singing tunes by powerhouse women of pop and indie including Beyonce, Peaches, Meryl Bainbridge.  Like if you would be keen to come along  x”

97. RHYTHMS & BEATS DRUM UP COMMUNITY CONNECTION IN HURSTBRIDGE  When Annie Fletcher and her family moved back from WA to Melbourne, Hurstbridge seemed a nice spot at the end of the train line. It wasn’t until they’d been living there a few months that Annie realised the rich arts community they’d been fortunate to move into.

96. TAKE KARAOKE TO NOONGAR COUNTRY AND YOU GET … NOONGAROKE  This is the story of how karaoke, that quintessentially global entertainment, came to Noongar country in Western Australia in the 1990s and was transformed into Noongaroke, a 21st-century version of corroboree events of bygone days.Noongar people engaging with karaoke created a contemporary process for cultural healing and wellbeing that dealt at a profound level with the anguished politics of death in their community. Leading the charge was the “deadly Noongaroke singing DJ” Jim Morrison.

95. SINGING THE CAMINO: A TALE OF TWO TRAIL BLAZERS, WALKING AND SONGS You never know where life as a Singing Leader will take you next. Several years ago now, The Lucky Wonders, an indie folk pop band from Byron Bay, toured Germany. In need of a break after a few gruelling years in the music industry, Jessie Vintila and her partner Emma Royle took off for a drive through Spain and France, and found themselves in St Jean Pied de Port, a small French town at the foot of the Pyrenees.

94. MUSIC LESSONS IMPROVE CHILDREN’S COGNITIVE ABILITIES & ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE Findings from new research conducted in the Netherlands show that structured music lessons have a significant and positive effect on a child’s cognitive abilities, improving verbal intelligence, inhibition and planning skills.

93BIG SING IN A BIG SHED UNDER A BIG SKY PUTS MURTOA ON THE COMMUNITY MUSIC MAP… AND IT’S HAPPENING ALL OVER AGAIN James Rigby spent years driving past the mighty Murtoa Stick Shed in awe of its size and wondering how on earth the monolithic structure looming up out of the landscape could still be standing. He never imagined that one Spring day in 2017 together with Jane Thompson, he would lead around 300 community singers in a Big Sing under its cathedral-like roof of bush poles and corrugated iron.

92. AGEING IN HARMONY: WHY THE THIRD ACT OF LIFE SHOULD BE MUSICAL t’s never too late to pick up a musical instrument. In fact there are many reasons why it’s a great idea, particularly in old age.We normally hear about reasons to increase music education for children, and for good cause.

91PLAYING TO SPIN: CELTIC TUNES KEEP CONTRA DANCERS ON THEIR TOES Contra dance… que’est-ce-que c’est? For those of us who’ve never dipped a heel or toe into this aspect of the folk or social dance scene, a quick spot of online research explains contra dancing as ‘social interaction, meeting people, and making new friends, set to music.’

90SONGS AND STRONG BONDS: THE COMMUNITY CHOIR CELEBRATING A HALF-CENTURY OF HARMONY John Williams has been singing for 80 of his 90 years on the planet. Growing up on a farm on the Mornington Peninsula, there was little opportunity to express himself musically and John really had no idea he could sing. “The headmaster of the school would bring in a local girl to sing with us all once a week, My Bonnie lies over the ocean, Rule Britannia, that kind of stuff. When we moved to Mitcham, my mother and I joined the local Methodist Church choir and I started singing alto alongside my mother at the age of 10.”

89. TO IMPROVE FUTURE RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KIDS, TURN UP THE MUSIC  If you're a parent or carer whose teenagers spend family road trips with earbuds firmly in place, you may want to encourage them to unplug, then turn the car radio to something the whole family can enjoy. It just might do wonders for your future relationship with your son or daughter, according to a new study from the University of Arizona.

88. HOW AN ANCIENT SINGING TRADITION HELPS PEOPLE COPE WITH TRAUMA IN THE MODERN WORLD  Riitta Excell wore a pair of homemade wool socks: white with red floral patterns and rounded blue toes. Around her were women sipping tea and enjoying plum pastries and chicken feta pie. They wore homemade wool socks, as well.It was nearly 3 o’clock on a Tuesday afternoon, and Pirkko Fihlman’s living room on the outskirts of Helsinki was filled with black-and-white family photos, porcelain figurines of angels and birds, and embroidered rococo chairs. The clink of tea cups fell silent, and then Excell squeezed her eyes closed, clenched her fists, and began to sing a lament in Finnish.

87COMMUNITY SONGBIRDS! TAKE FLIGHT ON THE AIRWAVES IN A NEW RADIO SHOW DEDICATED TO SINGING GROUPS AND CHOIRS A truly unique radio show championing the work of Choirs and Community Singing Groups is filling the airwaves above Upwey and beyond with the sweet sound of a cappella and accompanied singing each week.  The Aka-Pelican show is hosted by Rick Steen, a passionate choir singer and blues guitarist who’s excited to bring this opportunity to the world in what he believes is a first.

86. A TRIBUTE TO BEN LESKE, BY GILLIAN HOWELL Benjamin Patrick Leske, musician, composer, researcher, community singing advocate, conductor and choir leader, passed away this month from brain cancer, aged 37. I am not the only one of his friends feeling bereft. There are many others who knew him longer, who had shared more songs and more conversations than I had with him. But in our short friendship, Ben and I bonded. We shared stories from the PhDs in community music that we were both pursuing at the time (his about the experiences of young LGBTQI singers in a Melbourne choir, mine about young music learners in war-torn countries[1]), and we shared our experiences of dealing with the compounding challenges of major illness and treatment during PhD study.

85. RAISING SPIRITS IN BRISBANE AND BEYOND: PUB CHOIR CELEBRATES ITS FIRST BIRTHDAY In just one year, Pub Choir has revolutionised the community music scene in Brisbane and beyond, bursting forth in a blast of fresh energy and zest and attracting hundreds of singers to its informal fortnightly singing sessions. The success of Pub Choir can be attributed to a combination of zeitgeist mixed with a twist of right time right place all shaken up with a direct, no frills attitude to music making. That and the fact it’s in a pub…

84. EUROA LOVE SINGING FOR ITS SUPPER: DI MACKRELL AND THE ENDURING APPEAL OF VOCAL NOSH Word of mouth plays a big part in recruiting singers to the Euroa Vocal Nosh,* an informal community singing group run regularly for almost seventeen years and counting. That and the fear of missing out…

83. SYMPTOMS OF PARKINSON'S DISEASE IMPROVE WITH SINGING, STUDY FINDS A study led by researchers from Griffith University has found that symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be improved with regular singing. The outcomes and findings reaffirm, once again, the broad range of benefits to the individual in belonging to a community singing group or choir.