The (nearly) one-year-old Cool Choir from Deepwater recently performed at the Glen Innes Masonic Village (sometimes known as Glenwood).
Conductor, Christine Davis, said: “An enthusiastic group of 13 choir members sang a number of old favourite tunes (some playing ukuleles) and encouraged the twenty residents present to join in.”
She said it was a”wonderful experience to bring the joy of music to the residents through their active participation in the sing-a-long”.
Christine said that numerous studies had shown that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, relieving anxiety and stress. “Current research attests to the cognitive benefits of group singing/listening to music for all people, but especially the aged/dementia patients.”
According to the home’s supervisor, Carol Griffiths, it was a great success: “Our residents thoroughly enjoyed the choir’s visit, having a selection of songs that our residents could sing along too was great. We look forward to the choirs visiting us in the future.”
The choir plans to do similar events in Tenterfield and Glen Innes.
They’re also planning for the Cool Choir Celebration Concert to mark the end of the choir’s first year. A supper dance is planned at the Arts Hall, with all in the community welcome.
They’ve already booked a three-piece band.
It’s a remarkable achievement. Only a year ago, the choir was a bunch of disparate voices, waiting to be brought into harmony.
Christine Davis founded it with the aid of friends and a grant of $6,330.
They used that to help employ a professional conductor, Cathy Welsford, to come up regularly from Armidale plus all the things a choir needed like sheet music, hall hire, insurance and tea.
“The choir is for people to have a connection”, said Christine Davis at the time, “and music is a great way to connect”.
The thought then was to sing to old people, partly as a kind of therapy.
The grant came through a state scheme called “Sing Your Age” which State Minister for Ageing, Tanya Davies, said was to “reduce negative perceptions of ageing, improve physical and mental health, and reduce social isolation and loneliness in older people”.
Enthusiasm and love of music was the thing. You didn’t need to be Maria Callas (though they wouldn’t have turned her away).
“You don’t have to be fabulous”, said Christine Davis.
She said she loved music: “I’m a singer myself. I know the joy of singing”.
So, too, do the people at Glenwood.
They enjoy the therapy of music.