Are you looking for inspirational stories about community music making? Would you like to read factual analysis and findings about the benefits of community music making for your physiological and psychological state? You should make your way to the CMVic blog. The blog was started in 2014 to be our glass against the wall to hear what’s going on out there, and our tin can on a piece of string, for telling everyone all of the great things we get up to, and what we’re all about, here at Community Music Victoria.
It’s a great platform from which to celebrate achievements and share inspiration. We welcome contributions and stories from singing and music group leaders and participants, and we frequently post scientific findings relevant to the practise of collective music making.
As it evolves, the CMVic blog is shaping up to be a rich resource in its own right for community music makers and your comments, stories and input are what make it so. Submit an article for the blog here; we'd love to hear from you!
Below is a list of archived articles:
128. ASSEMBLING ONLINE: FIVE INTERNATIONAL CONVERSATIONS ABOUT INCLUSION, DISRUPTION, AND CONNECTION IN COMMUNITY MUSIC It is something of an understatement to say that recent months have transformed our modes of assembly. COVID-19 has forced us to rethink and regroup how we gather, and the extraordinary proliferation of musical and other creative activity that we have seen on our screens and been part of since March is testament to how important the experience of assembly is to our spirit, our sense of community, and our intellectual nourishment.
127. AROUND THE PHONE SINGALONGS, WITH JANE YORK AND JUST HOLLER As singing leaders, we have a responsibility to make a decision that’s going to be best for the safety of the whole group. All our groups desperately want to get back together but unfortunately, it’s not safe yet and that’s a really clear directive from the medical health professionals that it’s not on the cards right now. Rather than grieving that, I think I’d done that earlier, I’ve kind of moved on.
126. FROM OUR STREET TO YOURS, TAKING THE BAND ONLINE It was participating in an online music session for pre-schoolers which turned around Brian ‘Strat’ Strating and Lyndal Chambers’ thinking about playing and delivering instrumental music online.
125. HOW MATHS HELPS US UNDERSTAND HOW MUSIC MOVES PEOPLE Music is known to provoke the senses, give pleasure and sometimes move people to tears. Surely this has little to do with mathematical models which are so frequently associated with cold and rational logic. So what can maths tell us about this powerful phenomenon closely connected to the emotions?
124. ZOOMING IN FROM THE LOUNGE ROOM: ONLINE AND ONWARD IN TERM TWO Waiting for a room to fill up with people feels so last year. These days, community choir leader Jeannie Marsh waits for the little squares on her screen to blink into life to signal her group’s singers have turned up and tuned in ready to join in an evening of singing from their lounge room, bedroom or wherever the acoustics work best and there’s the option of a closing door.
123.COUNTING BEANS ‘N’ SOWING SEEDS: A CHAT ABOUT FUNDING The little rows of numbers take up their place across the page of the project spreadsheet. Adopting an orderly fashion, the lines serve the purpose of a groove marked in the soil by a gardener before planting can begin.
122. INTO THE GROOVE IN NORTH EAST VICTORIA Brianna Slattery’s always loved rhythm. “I first picked up a Djembe drum when I was about 18 and found it to be really therapeutic, I just loved the tactile experience of drumming, it was something I did for myself.
121. MUSIC AS THE FOOD OF LOVE AND LIFE Singing and music have added value and richness to every aspect of Peter Gatto’s life from listening to the radio on 3AR with his parents and playing with Wonthaggi Brass Band as a child, through to courting his wife Glenys as a young man in the 1960s.
120. WHITTLESEA MUSTER DELIGHTS UKE ENTHUSIASTS Naming the inaugural Whittlesea Uke Muster was ‘a great laugh’, a take on the iconic annual Deni Ute Muster which was started years ago featuring barbecues, burn outs and a whole lotta utes.
119. ‘THAT GIRL’ SONG CALLS FOR SAFETY AND EMPOWERMENT FOR WOMEN AND GIRLS, AND AN END TO GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE. “You put something like this out there and you just hope that it might contribute to improving the situation” says Sarah Mandie, songwriter and creative director of That Girl, a song and dance-based community focussed project run in conjunction with Community Music Victoria to empower women and girls, encourage them to stand up against gender-based violence, stereotyping and inequality and say ‘stop’.
118. 'COME AND SING' IN STAWELL “At 7pm on a night in the dead of winter, there’s often nobody but me in the room. As people come in they’ll say ah there’s only three of us tonight, then a fourth person turns up and there’s five…
117. SONGS & CHANTS FOR PLANET EARTH: A COMPILATION OF SONGS BY JANE COKER "The outpouring of freedom songs went to the core of the struggle and expressed, as nothing else was able, the hope, belief, desire, passion, dreams, and anguish of the conflict.” Mary King speaking of the power of song during the US Civil Rights movement.
116. THE JOURNEY FROM THE SONG, BY STUART ASHBURNER Perhaps I should start from where it all began. Polly, my wife, has always loved listening to ‘a capella’ so for several years we would go to the Selby Folk Club’s annual a capella concert in Upwey. Then about 5 years ago, after the concert, I made the irrational decision to join Sweet Sassafras, one of our local choirs.
115. THE PEACE CHOIR: A SANCTUARY OF SONG IN CASTLEMAINE "It’s ended up being absolutely a choir for people who feel on the edge and there are also people in the choir who are there because they want to interact with these people who are on the fringes. We’re creating a space that actually and selectively recruits in the corners.”
114. THRESHOLD CHOIR TECOMA OFFERS SONGS FOR THE DYING For the close-knit community in the hills above Melbourne, comfort and support in the form of song will soon be available to those on the threshold of life, offered by a fledgling new group of singers, Threshold Choir, Tecoma, led by experienced singing leader, Barb Mcfarlane.
113. MUSIC HELPS SPOKEN LANGUAGE DEVELOPMENT FOR CHILDREN WITH IMPAIRED HEARING A new study from the University of Helsinki has found that music, in particular singing, is beneficial to the brain of children with hearing impairment, and the development of their spoken language.
112. INTERCULTURAL COLLABORATION: AN OCEAN OF POSSIBILITIES Intercultural collaboration is a slippery and elusive art. I find it a spacious and revealing place to work. It sings to me and draws me in and on. I think it was a mixture of naivety and courage that led me to working in this field. I am a singer, song-writer and creative researcher with an Anglo-Celtic and Scandinavian heritage.
111. ONLINE TRAINING COURSE FOR PROFESSIONAL COMMUNITY CHOIR LEADERS CMVic’s ‘Growing Community Music’ project is gathering momentum! A part of this project is to investigate different models of training delivery for community music leaders that currently exist in other parts of the world. Of particular interest to us is the possibility of using online courses to build skills and connect with other like-minded practitioners.
110. LOVE SONGS FOR WHALES… & A CREATIVE INVITATION The Whales Are Back. The whale migration season off Phillip Island has begun again and the texts have started to arrive … Wednesday 29th May 9.45am: First Island whales this season. Two whales off San Remo jetty, heading to Cape Woolamai. Tuesday 4th June 3.31pm: One humpback sighted 1.4 kms of the Nobbies, heading towards Pyramid Rock. Friday 7th June 10.48am: One humpback whale, close to shore at Cape Woolamai.
109. SINGING 9-5 (& BEYOND) TIPS FOR RUNNING A WORKPLACE CHOIR “Hearing three-part harmony sung acapella is magical” says Annemarie Sharry. “Teaching singing one on one just isn’t my bag. I come into my choirs, we do a quick little warm up and then I get them to sing in triads and I get tingles and I say, ‘hear that? This is why we do what we do and it’s pure energy!’ What a gift to be able to teach this and then get it come right back at you.”
108. ON THE RADIO I love the radio. I love the way it makes me feel, like it’s just me and whoever is on the waves, having our own private moment. ‘Course that’s probably because I mostly listen to the radio in my car, or through headphones while I’m walking. I laugh, I cry, I groan and shake my head in disbelief, and no one else knows why I’m doing that. It’s a moment of private, concentrated listening.
107. REUNITED: A SHORT FILM ABOUT MUSIC AND THE HUMAN SPIRIT Edward Harding, a 93 year old man living with severe dementia, was affected by depression and confusion as a result of his illness. He was withdrawn and not really communicating with anyone anymore. One day a young musician, Sam Kinsella, began working at Ed’s care home in Somerset, (UK). A connection emerged between the two men, sparked by their shared love of playing music. This film captures what unfolded next in their story.
106. CMVIC ANNOUNCES EXCITING NEW LEADERSHIP PROGRAM: A PROJECT FOR THE PEOPLE "You’re going to bend it, you’re going to make it, you’re going to recreate it and it’s going to turn into your style and yourmethod and your system in your community; it’s about making community music in your community in the way that suits it best." The information-gathering phase of an exciting new CMVic driven Leadership Program is gathering pace, steered by the Gippsland-based, community music dream-team, Jane Coker and Lyndal Chambers.
105. THE STORY OF ‘LINGMARRA’ AND THE CMVIC NETWORK **This article and the following story contains references to Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people who have died. It also contains words from the language of Australian Kriol. Permission has been sought and given for its use in this context. Lingmarra, a beautiful song about coming together was brought to the CMVic network by Barlang T. E. Lewis, a Murrungun man, actor, singer and songwriter from Arnhem Land in the Northern Territory, who first learned it as a traditional song from the Dalabon Corroborree, Bongiliny Bongiliny.
104. HOW PLAYING AN INSTRUMENT BENEFITS YOUR BRAIN – TED ED This TED Ed video is as engaging and share-worthy today as it was when it was very first published. It’s a great incentive for anyone wondering whether to dust off an old instrument or pick up a new one for the first time. It’s also the perfect incentive to practise! If you’re looking for new music-making opportunities yourself, try the group search section of the CMVic website and get a party going in your own brain.
103. COMMUNITY MUSIC: FINDING YOUR PLACE; FINDING YOUR VOICE It started with a milestone birthday and an unexpected, life-changing gift: a three-day singing workshop at the Body Voice Centre in Footscray. This was not something I had ever asked for. Frankly, it was terrifying. Not only singing, but also improvisation and “exploring extended voice.” All that… in front of people… without the comfort of a loud, late-night karaoke backing track, or friends who had checked their dignity at the bar earlier in the evening.
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.
99. A 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.
93. BIG 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.
91. PLAYING 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.’
90. SONGS 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.
87. COMMUNITY 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), 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.
82. SICK OF SHOPPING? 10 REASONS TO GIVE THE GIFT OF MUSIC AND SONG, THIS SEASON Any donation you make can help ensure that more singing and instrumental music leaders get the skills they need to establish more groups, and that special projects like Voices of Peace, StreetSounds, Singing from Country, and That Girl can bring more music to more people who need it in their lives.
81. 'THAT GIRL' HAS SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY TO US ALL Sarah Mandie is a Melbourne based singer songwriter and the mother of two young girls. These two highly personal and defining elements of her life are brought into sharp focus though her new project, That Girl, and it is from her unequivocal belief in the potential of each and her passion for both, that this project has come about at all.
80. HOW TO USE MUSIC TO FINE TUNE YOUR CHILD FOR SCHOOL Can music actually make us smarter? Research suggests that from as early as 16 weeks of pregnancy, when auditory function is forming, babies begin their musical development. Their early adaptive exposure to sounds, including those familiar sounds of parents’ voices, enhance extraordinary processing skills.
79. THE REAL REASON DINOSAURS BECAME EXTINCT (& SOME NEUROLOGICAL BENEFITS OF MUSIC-MAKING) Dinosaurs couldn’t sing. Perhaps their demise had nothing to do with earth impacting asteroids or the frustration of tiny arms after all and was instead triggered by their physical inability to sing. Now, I’m no scientist but…
78. WEAVING HOMESPUN TUNES INTO THE FABRIC OF DAILY FAMILY LIFE Woody Clark dreams of a world where families find time to make music as they go about their lives together. Over the past fifteen years or more, Woody has been working to build a catalogue of songs and resources available to parents and carers to turn this vision into reality and help integrate the rich experience of intergenerational singing and playing into the familial tapestry of homes and lives across Australia.
77. UNDERMINING ADANI WITH THE MELBOURNE CLIMATE CHOIR “This particular campaign focussed on Adani has really mobilised people across political parties, across age groups and demographics. They’re worried about their children and they’re worried about their grandchildren and what they’re going to inherit…Singing about it gives anyone feeling powerless and outraged a way to feel better and join with other people who feel the same.”
76. CARBON CANARIES SING OUT FOR CLIMATE CHANGE If the ongoing issues surrounding climate change and the proposed Adani Coal mine leave you wanting to blow your top we’ve unearthed a way to help channel that frustration and anger into inspiration and joy. Let us begin.
75. IN SINC WITH DIFFERENCE: DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION IN SINGING LEADERSHIP An exciting new training program focussed on Diversity and Inclusion in Singing Leadership was rolled out in Melbourne this year to kick against the concept of the cultural melting pot, replacing that sticky, outdated cauldron with shared knowledge, experience and insights that recognise and celebrate the difference we each bring to a situation as individuals in our own right, and to develop community singing leadership so that more programs supporting disadvantage and community building can be established across Victoria and beyond.
74. SERENADING ADELA: COMMUNITY STREET OPERA CELEBRATES CHORAL ACTIVISM & THE AUSTRALIAN ANTI-CONSCRIPTION MOVEMENT One hundred years ago, Australians voted not once but twice against conscription, on October 28th 1916 and again on 20 December 2017 in referendums called by the Prime minister, Billy Hughes. The referendums bitterly divided the nation, with pro-conscription and anti-conscription campaigners spreading their messages in speeches, songs, huge public meetings, articles, and rallies.
73. SINGING IN THE STICK SHED: AN OPEN INVITATION TO SINGING GROUPS & CHOIRS The ‘mighty’ Murtoa Stick Shed stands majestically against the open skies of the Wimmera, built in 1941 as a solution for grain storage during the World War II wheat glut, when exports were restricted. The shed was originally one of three, built using logs of rainforest mountain ash and of those three is the only one still standing, saved by the people in the local town of Murtoa who recognised the cultural significance and uniqueness of the building.
72. SING OUT AND TAKE A STAND AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Back in April, an invitation was sent to community choirs to unite and sing up at a ‘pioneering choral event’ called You’re the Voice, an element of the 2017 Queensland Music Festival dedicated to highlighting the persistent problem of domestic violence across Australia and building awareness in a bid to ‘turn the tide’ and support positive change.
71. THE ASSYRIAN WOMEN’S GROUP: CELEBRATING, PRESERVING, AND SHARING ASSYRIAN CULTURE IN MELBOURNE Foundation House is an organisation set up to help refugees and migrants who are survivors of torture in other countries, assisting them with settlement services and connecting them with other organisations such as AMES on arrival in Australia. It is also the starting point in this story of a group of Chaldean Christian women who have hopes of becoming the Assyrian Women’s Choir.
70. DIVERSITY & INCLUSION & WHY WE SHOULDN’T BE INDIFFERENT TO DIFFERENCE Life would be boring if we were all the same. Living in the most culturally diverse state in Australia, as Victorians we are encouraged to be inclusive and tolerant of everyone, and to show respect for aspects or characteristics in a person perceived to be different to our own.
69. BETTY M. & THE BIRTH OF A NETWORK ‘The great thing about events that get people together is the fact that they get people together!’ says Betty McLaughlin, Gippsland based community music activist and founder of the Gippsland Singers Weekend at Wilson’s Prom. It was reading about the success of the 2016 gathering in October last year which inspired this conversation with Betty as encouragement to anyone out there looking to consolidate a sustainable, regional network of community music makers and wondering how to go about it.
68. STREETSOUNDS FESTIVAL HITS THE STREETS OF GEELONG WITH APLOMB! Sun shone through grey clouds gathered low over Pakington Street in Geelong West last Saturday morning, jostling to catch a glimpse of the gloriously coloured community musicians gathering in readiness on the grass below to play in the StreetSounds Festival parade and fiesta.
67. THE COUNTDOWN TO COUNT US IN, IS ON! Do you know any school aged children? Do you teach school aged children? If you love a chance to sing with your fledgling and older song birds whilst advocating for the value of music and music education in all schools, this year’s Music: Count Us In program might be just the ticket.
66. SINGING AIDS THE SOUND OF SILENCE FOR SNORERS If all you crave at night is the sound of silence, encouraging somebody who snores to sing for their supper could be the key to a peaceful night’s sleep, and the clip below will be music to your ears. We know from experience that an interrupted sleep pattern impacts negatively on concentration levels and increases the likeliness of accidents and mistakes during our waking hours.
65. THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE TECOMA: A NEW PEACE CHOIR CELEBRATES THE POSITIVE THINGS IN LIFE There’s a new drop-in choir in Tecoma, that’s all about feeling good, celebrating resilience and being grateful for Community, our safety and the Environment. During the time when Singing Leader and Community Music Activist Barb McFarlane was planning to form Tecoma Peace Choir, Donald Trump was elected to the stage and the ensuing political pantomime has done nothing to reassure anyone about the state of the world.
64. SINGING OUT ABOUT SINGING & WHY IT’S SO DARNED GOOD FOR US I have been running two community choirs for fifteen years. I have found that over time in our groups, we have had singers with varying skills and experience, some coming in briefly, but most staying for decades and developing lasting friendships. ALL have improved their skills over time.
63. MELTIN’ DOWN AGE BARRIERS IN MELTON: THE INTERGENERATIONAL STREET BAND SUPPORTING FAMILY MUSIC MAKING ‘What I really get out of the band and the practice is simply the fun.’ says Melton resident Amy McDonald who for the past year has played with The Fabulous Meltones, one of the bands to have emerged with support from Community Music Victoria’s StreetSounds project.
62. HAVE YOU HEARD WHAT'S HAPPENING IN GIRGARRE? Girgarre was one of six small towns constituting less than 6,000 people selected to receive $350,000 each over two years “for projects that realise big ideas” and puts artistic practice at the centre of community life.
61. A CHILD’S BRAIN DEVELOPS FASTER WITH EXPOSURE TO MUSIC EDUCATION A study by researchers at the University of Southern California shows that exposure to music and music instruction accelerates the brain development of young children.
60. MUSIC AND MAYHEM IN MIRBOO NORTH Twice a week Mayhem breaks out in the life of Gippsland based Singing Leader, Jane Coker. This has nothing to do with escaped chooks or lost car keys, Mayhem is a music and drama group, organised by Scope and facilitated by Jane, for adults from day centres in Traralgon, Wonthaggi, and Warragul. Everyone comes together at the Grainstore, a beautiful old wooden building in Mirboo North, to sing and dance and meet other people. It’s about therapy, fun and having a good time together. It’s about making a racket and making a mess. And it’s awesome.
59. IN CELEBRATION OF SINGING FROM COUNTRY Now and again an opportunity comes along that speaks to the heart. In January 2014, I met Terry White at the Turramurra Folk Music Camp. I was there in my capacity as a storyteller, having been invited to run some workshops. Most likely I was on a riff about the role storytellers might play in connecting folks to Australian landscape and the places they called ‘home’...
58. FROM NORTHCOTE TO THE NETHERLANDS: HOW A CMVIC SKILLS DAY STARTED AN UNEXPECTED VOYAGE INTO THE WORLD OF DUTCH POP You never know what you’ll take away from the experience of attending a CMVic event. A banana peel desting to languish longtime in the seam of your bag, maybe. A head filled with fresh material and exciting inspiration; the buzz of being surrounded by your tribe and an empty water bottle, definitely. And for one Melbourne based singing leader who attended a CMVic Skills Day in Northcote last year, a chance meeting unexpectedly led to a whole new chapter of cultural and linguistic discovery and personal learning.
57. DUNROAMIN? JUST STARTIN! A HOT STEPPING NEW STREET BAND HITS THE STREETS OF DUNOLLY Picture the scene: a large group of leather clad bikers on a pit stop; add a healthy dose of community musicians into the mix, and what do you get? Broadway, a street through the small, regional town of Dunolly, last Saturday afternoon.
56. WHERE STREETSOUNDS MEETS SOUNDS OF COUNTRY Last week, members of Boomulele, the StreetSounds Street Band from Morwell, took part in a Ceremony at the Latrobe Regional Arts Gallery to mark the end of the Sounds of Country exhibition and to celebrate the community of Aboriginal artists within it. TheSounds of Country exhibition explored the Aboriginal concept of Deep Listening, revealing the relationship the Aboriginal artists have to the land and to the natural world.
55. READY, WILLIN’ AND ABLE: GENEROSITY AND SOLIDARITY PROVE KEY COMPONENTS OF WILLIAMSTOWN SINGING GROUP Leaving Melbourne via the Westgate Bridge on a Wednesday evening, clouds of steam cluster and dissipate into the darkening sky. It’s fair to assume these plumes are output from the factories and refineries dotting the coast like pins in a board from Port Melbourne to Geelong. It’s also possible that part of the component entering the atmosphere is a heady mix of CO2 and endorphins being exhaled by the Willin Wimmin of Williamstown, having their weekly sing.
54. TIDES OF WELCOME KEEP ON ROLLING: A QUEENSCLIFF COMMUNITY CHOIR CELEBRATES 13 SONG-FILLED YEARS Tides of Welcome Choir has been celebrating diversity and harmony through a shared passion for singing, and has just blown out the candles on its thirteenth anniversary cake. The choir comprises locals from Queenscliff on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, who enjoy the experience of singing together and creating soulful harmonies under the direction of their dedicated leader, singer songwriter, Andrea Robertson.
53. SHARING MORE THAN SONG: SINGING LIFE BACK INTO AN OLD, OLD CONCEPT WITH A BRAND NEW BARTER CHOIR. ‘If I can reduce my living expenses significantly that’s as good as making money.’ says Werribee singing leader, Steph Payne, who recently established ReciproVocal, a Barter Choir where instead of paying a termly fee to join, participants are invited to share and exchange skills and trades and even sing for their supper. (Steph dreams of dentists, desperate to sing, and who wouldn’t?)
52. FAMOUS FOR FIFTEEN SECONDS: TIPS TO HELP YOU CAPTURE YOUR GROUP’S STORIES ON FILM. Whether you like it or hate it, the ways in which we absorb and process information have changed irrevocably, and putting a message out into the world is easy as pie. The challenge comes in finding your target audience before the pastry turns crusty and hard.
51. SINGING TO BE STRONG: OVERCOMING ANXIETIES THROUGH SONG Last Thursday, singing leader Richard Lawton woke up planning to head to the Royal Melbourne Hospital as he has done for the past eight weeks where he runs a singing group for outpatients living with an eating disorder.
50. OPEN HOUSE; OPEN HEARTS: TRAVELLING AS COMMUNITY MUSIC MAKERS ‘Playing music with people from other cultures is more than just communication, it’s an act of love’ believes Brian Strating, leader of mens’ singing group, Homebrew Verandah Music and Brunswick Old Time String Orchestra. (BOTSO)
49. JAMMING BEATS BOOKS: HOW MUSIC MAKING WITH TODDLERS CAN ENHANCE THEIR DEVELOPMENT The next time you sit down to read to a toddler, consider popping that ole book back to its place on the shelf for a while*, and playing some homemade music together instead. Over time, the long term effect of your action might just make the world a better place to be.
48. SHARING JEWISH SONGS AT THE COMMUNITY MUSIC VICTORIA MUSIC CAMP I recently attended the 2016 CMVic Music Camp at Grantville Lodge. I had never attended a CMVic event before and was somewhat trepidatious. I do not play a musical instrument myself, but I do sing in a choir, and I love singing, so was keen to take part in the singing workshops during the weekend in particular.
47. THE CHANGING TUNE OF CHORAL SINGING IN GERMANY I arrived at Rathaus Tiergarten, a local town hall of Berlin on a sunny spring afternoon in May, just in time for a celebration. Assorted stalls, abuzz with colour and activity, promoted organisations that support people with disabilities and their carers.
46. LEADING FROM THE FRONT WHEN WE’RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER. TIPS FOR CONDUCTING AN ‘ALL IN’ ENSEMBLE All-in ensembles: a mix of instruments, a mix of ages, a mix of skill levels with everybody welcome to squeeze up together and join in. They may be a whole heap of fun to be part of, but how does it feel to be the person standing in the middle, holding every thing together?
45. BASKING IN THE FREEWHEELIN’ WARMTH OF THE SUNSHINE STREET BAND The last rays of a Tuesday evening sun can often be glimpsed glinting off the brass horns, drums and other instruments of the Sunshine Street Band by the runners and dog walkers soaking up day’s end on Albion’s oval.
44. DREAMS COME TRUE AT PRAHRAN ACCORDION BAND! Prahran Accordion Band’s home is the German Club Tivoli on Dandenong Road. It’s not a building to evoke architectural wonder as you pass, but inside on the first and third Thursdays of the month, magic happens.
43. A CONVERSATION ABOUT LEADING SINGERS WITH ASD This post is not written from a professional perspective. It is the shared experiences of Liz, a mother who is also a singing leader, who has a son with ASD and who was generous enough to share her observations and knowledge.
42. CHOCOLATE LILIES SING OUT AND CELEBRATE! The Chocolate Lily is a hardy plant well suited to group plantings with a coping mechanism for surviving all weather conditions. Not dissimilar then, to Nerida Kirov’s community singing group of the same name which has just won an Australia Day award.
41. OUR COMMUNITY SOUNDS: AN EXCITING NEW IMPROV PROJECT Do you love the freedom and innovation of improvised music making? Our Community Sounds is an exciting and experimental project exploring ‘collective improvisation, the nature of community, and of how these might intersect’.
40. OLD YEAR, NEW BOOKS! CMVIC LAUNCHES SING IT & A GUIDE TO COMMUNITY SINGING LEADERSHIP Endings. They’re the new beginnings, folks. And while December can feel like the calendar equivalent of a French waiters’ trick where everything’s whipped off the table before you were sure that you’d finished, it can also be the perfect time to combine contemplation and celebration with the launch of something new.
39. GOING THE DISTANCE: TAKING MUSIC ON THE ROAD TO SCHOOLS IN REMOTE REGIONS The benefits of music in childhood are multiple, impacting and well documented. Yet in spite of proven positive connections between music and early learning, and music and emotional development, mainstream education too often seems to view it as a peripheral extra, a luxury that can easily be dispensed of, and budget cuts in schools seem to hit music departments especially hard.
38. SINGING CALMS BABY LONGER THAN TALKING In a new study from the University of Montreal, infants remained calm twice as long when listening to a song, which they didn’t even know, as they did when listening to speech.
37. OUT OF THE ASH – A BUSHFIRE SONG In February 2009 our region was thrown into chaos by the dreadful bushfires that decimated the district and stole away our friends and family, homes and more. Our group, the Whittlesea Township Choir, were all affected, as were all local people. experiences and sad tales. After our fulfilling experience writing our first original song, “Whittlesea Town”, in 2008 with Sue Johnson, we felt we could initiate our own project and write a song around our experience in the February 2009 Bushfires.
36. BREAST BEATERS – AN INNOVATIVE IDEA THAT BECAME A REALITY My friend Bev McAlister was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago. She got through her surgery and radiotherapy, frequently making the long trip from her home in the Dandenong Ranges outside Melbourne to a hospital in the city for treatment.
35. THE POSITIVE IMPACT OF LISTENING TO MUSIC DURING AND AFTER SURGERY Whether participating in group music making or listening to something alone, the fibres of our soul react to the sound waves and vibrations in the music, and so does our brain.
34. AN ADVENTURE WITH THE OPERA On a chilly June evening, a group of my community choir members from Ivanhoe, Epping and Mernda, and I gathered outside Horti Hall, the home of the Victorian Opera, waiting with interest (and some with trepidation!) to see what we were confronted with when the doors opened.
33. SINGING TO THE END: HOW A GROUP WHO SING FOR PEOPLE IN PALLIATIVE CARE CAME TO BE One of the few things of which we can be certain is that one day, we’ll die. For many of us, this is something we avoid thinking about, preferring to concentrate instead on getting through each day in as positive and as present a way as possible.
32. MAKING MARIMBAS, MAKING MUSIC: KEY INFO ABOUT THE 4M PROJECT. Over the next ten months or so, Men’s Sheds across Victoria will reverberate with the sounds of sawing, chiselling, hammering, probably some whistling, possibly some cussing and – ultimately – with the rich warm sounds of a brand new marimba, built in-house.
31. RESEARCHERS DISCOVER THE ANATOMIC REASONS FOR THE PERSISTENCE OF MUSICAL MEMORY IN ALZHEIMER PATIENTS For anyone witnessing the degeneration of a person affected by the later stages of Alzheimer’s, it can be baffling but extremely heartening to witness their response to music and songs from their past.
30. IDEAS FOR COMMUNITY MUSIC GROUP LEADERS, FROM BELINDA MCARDLE Several community music makers and group leaders gathered at Commongroundfor peer exchange last weekend.
29. SING A SONG OF SKYLINES: THE INSPIRATION … & THE IDEA… A recent article in the Huffington Post talked of a project by Japanese artist, Koshi Kawachi. Tracing an outline of the world around him and punctuating the pinnacles and troughs along it with strategic dots, Kawachi transposed what was laid out before him into music.
28. HOST A SINGING GATHERING – IT MAKES YOU HAPPY! It was really sunny and verging on warm in May when four community choirs gathered in Victoria’s Mirboo North, South Gippsland to sing together. Sweet Sassafrass and VoKallista from the Dandenong Ranges visited Acoustic Kitchen and GrandRidge 245 (Mirboo North’s Community Choir), repaying a visit we had made to them.
27. OUT OF THE ASH – A BUSHFIRE SONG In February 2009 our region was thrown into chaos by the dreadful bushfires