With One Voice choirs
By Rachael Fleury
If you save your singing talent for the shower, why not think about joining your local choir – it might just improve your mental health and allow you to give back to your community.
Soprano and founder of With One Voice community choirs, Tania de Jong, knew from her own experience the positive power singing could have on the mind. She also wanted to give something back to the community, so she started the choirs more than 10 years ago.
“Singing with other people changes the brain. It creates new neuro-pathways and is proven to make people happier, healthier, smarter and more creative,” Ms de Jong said.
Ms de Jong also hopes that by bringing people together to sing, she can help bridge the gap between people experiencing disadvantage and those more fortunate.
“Communities are becoming more and more isolated, especially after COVID-19, and we wanted to create a space where people from all sorts of backgrounds can come together, sing and support each other,” Ms de Jong said.
Not only does Ms de Jong have a strong belief in the program’s value, but she also has the backing of Swinburne University research into the With One Voice choir program that showed participants had enhanced wellbeing, reduced stress and improved social bonds.
Ms de Jong is excited that even more people will benefit from the program thanks to the Southbank-based Creativity Australia, which is offering grants of up to $10,000 to people or groups wanting to start a With One Voice choir.
Annabel Carr has cerebral palsy and joined the Melbourne city choir seven years ago. The choir meets at 6pm every Tuesday at the Scots’ Church on Collins St.
“The choir is a huge extended family for me. Some of my best friends are in the choir,” Ms Carr said. “Shortly after I joined the choir, I was sacked from my job. I came to choir that night and was absolutely distraught. When the choir found out I’d lost my job, they all came around me in a circle and sang Lean on Me.”
Application forms for Creativity Australia grants are available online and entries close at 5pm on Monday, May 31 2021 •
For more information: creativityaustralia.org.au