Dynasty Music currently runs the following choirs
2. Mullum Girls Choir – rehearses Friday afternoons at 4pm during school terms, and replaces the Byron Shire Young Voices project. The photo is of Yael, one of our first members three years ago, still singing beautifully with us!
3. Dynasty8 Chamber Choir – rehearses Fridays when we are working on a project – yes, it’s a project based choir!Directed by Elizabeth Swain, we are 8 experienced singers who perform mainly classical work from ancient and modern eras.
Why we need to teach the world to sing
Richard Gill believes singing is the best way to acquire a complete musical education.
Using the voice as a way of learning music seems such a logical thing to do that one wonders why it needs any sort of defence or advocacy. However, there is a view in the minds of some children, and shared by some parents and teachers, that singing at school as part of a music class does not constitute a proper music lesson. A proper music lesson only takes place when one attends an instrumental class such as a piano lesson. Perhaps time will see this disconnection being corrected, as singing makes a very special re-entry into the school curriculum nationally.
In some establishments, singing has always been a part of the fabric of school life. One school in Melbourne – a boys’ school, Melbourne High – comes to mind immediately. I have had the great pleasure to be in the school when the boys have sung several songs including music from the Baroque, folk songs from diverse cultures and a variety of contemporary songs. The singing was accurate, intense, and it was performed with incredible commitment.
While the physical benefits to be derived from good singing (through controlled breathing, controlled use of tongue, mouth, chest, neck, head, abdominal muscles and so on), along with its immediate impact in providing a sense of well-being have all been documented, I’d like to address the benefits that singing provides as a direct path to a complete music education.
Given normal circumstances, all people can produce some sort of vocal sound, which can be developed, more or less, into a singing tone. While in some people it is undoubtedly limited, it would be fair to say that we are all born with the capacity to sing to a greater or lesser degree.
We sing because it is so enjoyable. In the animal kingdom, singing is very often a way of attracting a mate. David Attenborough deals with the reasons human beings sing in a Science Show programme (ABC Radio National, January 30, 2010), which is still available for download. Excellent listening!
Through early teaching, children can learn an enormous body of songs and singing games while simultaneously incorporating movement. This vocal material then provides opportunities for children to be creative, encouraging them to improvise on the familiar song material by inventing patterns in movement like clapping, stamping and clicking (often called body percussion), and inventing rhythmic patterns using classroom instruments such as wood blocks, triangles and tambourines. The imagination is stimulated, listening skills are developed, memory is enhanced, and children learn to discriminate musical sounds one from another, commenting on how they and others have created new musical ideas.
Later on this material becomes the basis for the teaching of the formal concepts associated with the reading and writing of music, while an ever-increasing body of new material can be consistently taught which feeds the imagination. This in turn produces new creative ideas from within the child.
A sequential and developmental programme for teaching children the identifiable phenomena associated with music through the voice prepares them for instrumental tuition. Fortunate is the teacher of a musical instrument who inherits a pupil already singing in tune, reading rhythm and pitch from staff notation, improvising in given styles, moving confidently to music, demonstrating an understanding of a wide range of musical concepts including harmony and musical form, and with a good background knowledge of recorded music. And all this at no extra cost to the parent!
These days we hear numerous claims made for the benefits of a structured music education on a child’s capacity to learn. While these are true, and supported by strong empirical evidence, it has to be remembered that these benefits are bonuses and not reasons for teaching music to children. We teach music to children so that they might develop a lifelong association with – and a love of – music for its own sake. We teach music to children because music is good; music is unique; and music has a potent effect on the heart, mind, spirit, soul and imagination of a child, from out of whom can emerge wonderfully creative musical ideas in the form of improvisations and written compositions.
With all this, why wouldn’t you teach children to sing? None of this is new information, of course. We just need Australian states to implement it universally. We could change many lives for the better!
Wow, what a busy term this is turning out to be for Song Dynasty Music! We have not one but two new choirs that have started – Emilie’s DYNASTY VOICES which now has 14 members and is working hard on some really exciting repertoire, and then our vocal ensemble of 8 voices has also started. Both rehearse in Bangalow on Saturday afternoons at the All Soul’s Anglican Church.
Our kids choirs are gradually building, and Janet is doing some work at Mullumbimby Primary School with their 40 voice choir, helping out their choir director. We hope to find some new and amazing voices in that choir who might join the after school choirs in the Scout Hall.
Up in Palm Beach our Gorgeous Pop Choir now has 25 members, and they sound amazing. A really good, solid and confident sound. Jenny’s ukulele group is going really well, and they are tackling some great new songs, being challenged every week.
Back in the Byron Shire, our two community building choir, the Cuppa Tea Choir (Mullum) and Byron Community Singers are doing really well, and the Byron mob even sang out on the balcony last week to the people below, gracing them with a beautiful heartfelt version of Neil Young’s After the Goldrush.
We are all now madly preparing for our family and friend’s concert on Saturday 20 September at 4pm, in the Mullum Scout Hall. We have two special guests, local singer songwriters Kim Bamffy and Chris Mallory. Chris is also starting to work with our Boys Aloud choir, and it will be great for the boys to have a mentor in such an experienced and excellent musician.
Cuppa Tea Choir sing outside Mullum & District neighbourhood Centre
Once again we are presenting a concert, this time not quite as grand as our launch a few months ago, but still big enough!
This time we are raising money to spruce up the old Scout Hall in Mullumbimby, where we rehearse a number of our choirs. We all love the acoustics in this modest hall, and we hope to raise money to help the Scouts in Mullumbimby to fix a broken window, give the place a good and thorough clean, and build and attach a notice board to the outside of the building so people can easily see what’s on in the hall.
We are very excited to have as special guests the drumming group that rehearses in the hall every Thursday evening. Benji, who also owns Son of Drum, the music shop in Mullumbimby, will present his group performing a number of African traditional rhythms.
Other special guests include Cinquecento, a five piece women’s singing group who meet over evening wine and sing italian love songs to each other.
We are also thrilled to once again present the up and coming grooviest uke chicks in town, Ukeloveys, a seven piece ukulele, kazoo and rhythm orchestra who have been seen most recently busking in the main street to rapturous audiences.
As well as all of these groups, we will combine our kids choirs and our adult choirs to sing some warming winter songs.
Sunday 21 June, 4pm, Mullum Scout Hall (behind the post office).
On Tuesday 9 June 2015, the ACC bus arrived at Cape Byron Rudolph Steiner School for a 6 day visit.
Great excitement from the students, who joined with the Ugandan kids for games followed by a beautiful performance of some songs specially written by grade 5 and 6 students for their guests. The tour title is Under One Sky, and the songs were about joining together under one sky.
Wednesday – the children went to Byron Bay Primary School where they did a workshop for all 600 students, as well as students from the Byron Community School. This was a great success, and the ACC kids amazed everyone with their energy and wonderful singing, dancing and drumming.
Wednesday 4 March 2015 – We are very excited to announce that dustyesky, the local Russian male choir, will be performing at the Song Dynasty Music launch. This choir started last year, and performed to rave reviews at the Mullum Music Festival. We are thrilled that they have agreed to join us, and will be a great inspiration, especially for our boy singers.
Tuesday 3 March 2015 – We’re excited to be preparing for the Song Dynasty Music Launch on 29 March here in Mullumbimby – the musical capital of Australia!!
The launch gives us a chance to say hello to the community – and show some of our work, and the work of some other wonderful musicians here in and around Mullumbimby. We are also very happy to be supporting the work of the Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre, who do so much to support the community in so many ways. They have been very supportive of the Mullumbimby Midnight Choir, which rehearses every Tuesday morning at the Neighbourhood Centre. people wander in for a coffee or a feed, and sit and listen to us rehearsing – and sometimes they find themselves joining in. It
s a great community feeling.
We are also thrilled to announce the involvement of the Ukuladies – a 7 piece ukulele orchestra based in Mullum – as well as the gorgeous Emilie Lemasson who will sing a couple of opera favourites, with Elizabeth on the piano.
See you there!!!
Wednesday 18 February 2015 – We now have 5 of our choirs up and running – Mullum Midnight Choir, Gold Coast Choir, as well as three kids choirs. Word of mouth is doing it’s magic, as people are starting to talk about our work. Liz has been accompanying the gorgeous Emilie Lemasson, a new singer in town who will be working with Song Dynasty Music in term 2, running kids choirs and Byron and MamaSings! choirs for mums, dads and babies.
We are having a launch concert for Song Dynasty Music on Sunday 29 March at 4pm, at st martin’s Church Hall in Stuart Street, Mullumbimby. All our choirs will be singing, as well as the Ukuladies and other special guests, followed by champagne!
Here are a few photos of the new choirs rehearsing.
Friday 23 January 2015 – Things are cranking up for Song Dynasty Music. We have started publicising our new choirs – this term we are starting community choirs in Mullumbimby and on the Gold Coast as well as our Young Voices programme – girls choirs on Wednesdays and boys choirs on Thursdays.We have been excited and inspired by Michelle Leonard‘s work with Outback choirs, which she has been organising for several years. The ABC made a wonderful film about what she does and how she does it, motivating young singers who don’t normally get the chance to sing in a large group at a high level. We noticed particularly the way that Michelle works with boys and girls separately, and how well it works. Here is a small excerpt from the film.
We are also thrilled to be organising the Byron leg of the African Children’s Choir tour later this year. Janet worked with these kids in Uganda, visiting in 2013 and 2014 with kwaya.org, and Australian organisation led by Marsha Gusti. They will be based at the Cape Byron Steiner School from Saturday 8 June to Sunday 14 June and will be giving workshops in schools – at Byron Bay Public School and at St john’s Primary School in Mullumbimby – and then giving a public workshop and concert on Saturday 13 June. Watch this short video about the story of the African Children’s Choir in Uganda.
Tuesday 13 January 2015 – So we’ve been to the Kodaly Summer School for a couple of days, refreshing our musical skills and being inspired by some really great teachers – especially Dr Laszlo Nemes from the Kodaly Institute of the Liszt Academy in Budapest. What a wonderful choir leader and teacher, who had the whole choir in the palm of his hand with his charm, musicality and mostly his sense of the soul of the music and the group. We spoke to him briefly about music in schools and he emphasised the essential role of the development of the spirit in children through music. His work and his style seems to come from a place of great depth – in rehearsals with both the children’s choir and the adult’s choir he spoke softly and gently, with great humour but at the same time demanding the very best of all participants.
Janet also attended masterclasses with Janice Chapman, a master opera teacher who lives and works in London. She has worked with many singers of all levels and had some wonderful insights into technical faults and strengths of singers.
Another inspiring teacher and musician was Pete Churchill, a jazz singer and pianist who has written a lot of great repertoire for choirs. His style is one that I will use with my community choirs particularly – sitting or standing in a circle, no sheet music, learning each part by rote, memorising as we go. Here is one of his songs:
Wednesday 7 January 2015 – We hope everyone had a beautiful Christmas and New Year!
Liz and Janet have just had our first Song Dynasty Music meeting for 2015, and what an exciting year it is shaping up to be! We are both full of energy and ideas as we plan our new Song Dynasty Young Voices programme, as well as the Mullumbimby Midnight Choir (a local community choir hosted by Mullumbimby Neighbourhood Centre), the new Gold Coast Community Choir in Palm Beach.
Over the next two weeks we will be in Brisbane participating in the Summer School hosted by Sound Thinking Australia. We will be attending the children’s choir sessions, the classical singing master classes with Janice Chapman and the jazz choir sessions directed by the inspirational musician Pete Churchill , so we’ll be returning to Mullumbimby full of new ideas for warm ups and repertoire.
We have also begun preparations for the African Children’s Choir tour to the Northern Rivers, with great schools and public workshops and performances planned for June.
Have a look at our 2015 timetable – we hope to get lots of young people singing this year, and older people who have made ‘singing in a choir’ their new New Year’s Resolution!!!
Wednesday 19 November 2014 – Great workshop, 25 Gold Coasters came to sing for 2 hours in the beautiful Gecko Hall in Currumbin, including some people from Mosaica Choir and Gold Coast City Choir. It was a great opportunity to introduce myself and talk about my projects in 2015.
Science is now agreeing with what many singers already know. Singing in harmony in a group can play a vital role in contributing to our physical and mental health.
In addition to releasing oxytocin, a natural stress reliever found to alleviate feelings of depression and loneliness, singing in a group can boost your immune system as well as your confidence. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that choristers’ heartbeats synchronise when they sing together, bringing about a calming effect that is as beneficial to our health as yoga. They showed that singing has a dramatic effect on heart rate variability, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
“Song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these,” says Dr Björn Vickhoff, who led the study. “It gives you pretty much the same effect as yoga breathing. It helps you relax, and there are indications that it does provide a heart benefit.”
Janet Swain has long believed in the healing power of song both for listeners and singers. She began her musical career twenty-five years ago and has led both professional and community choirs all over the world. Her philanthropic endeavours include travelling to Uganda with Kwaya Australia where she led a group of 30 Australian singers to sing and perform for Ugandan VIPs with children from the African Children’s Choir.
Janet is passionate about the mental health of girls and women and has witnessed the positive effect music can have on their abilities to cope with day-to-day life. She has recently relocated to Australia from Singapore where she founded and directed the renowned Janet Swain children’s and women’s choirs.
Her first two projects on the Gold Coast are a day-time and an evening community choir as well as a pioneering girl’s choir for ages twelve to twenty years. “I believe that teenage girls need a safe outlet where they can express their joy, worries or angst in a supportive environment. Singing songs with themes and lyrics to which the girls can relate is an essential component for achieving this successfully,” says Janet.
Janet is holding a short workshop on Saturday 15th November at Gecko House in Currumbin from 2 to 4pm for those who wish to meet her and learn more about her upcoming choirs. The workshop will provide the opportunity to learn some simple harmonies and songs, as well as some fun vocal exercises and rhythm games.
Meet and sing with Janet on Saturday 15 November, 2pm to 4pm.
The cost is $20.
Registration is essential. email firstname.lastname@example.org, or ph 0438 965397