What is the Big Sing, how long has it been going and in how many locations?

Big Sing started about 18 months ago at Brunswick Picture House. We had the idea that the Picture House needed a choir, but I didn’t really know how it would work. I’ve been teaching choirs for many years, usually community choirs with 4 parts, and music and long rather laborious rehearsals, so I wanted to do something different.

So now I spend one hour teaching simple chants and songs and guiding vocal improvisation that is often called Circle Singing. I don’t hand out lyric sheets and I don’t teach complicated harmonies, so it really is a group for anyone who wants to connect with their own individual voice.

Big Sing has just started in Lismore, and  Kingscliff at the beautiful Kingscliff Community Centre, right on the beach. It is a wonderful space for singing, and I am planning some longer weekend singing workshops as well as the regular weekly Big Sing.

Who comes along to it and why?
Every Monday morning all kinds of people gather at the Picture House to sing together – and connect with our local community. The circle is open to everyone – locals, visitors, kids, babies, singers, and anyone who has been longing to sing in a safe, friendly, joyful space. We have mums with small babies, and our oldest singer is 95 – Ray started singing when he was 90, and is now a regular with us in Brunswick Heads!

What are the benefits?
There are so many health benefits of singing together in community. I have been researching the vagus nerve – the nerve that originates in the brain and travels through the entire body. It is connected to the vocal chords. Digestive complaints, high blood pressure, anxiety and inflammatory conditions can all helped by these practices.

I think people are surprised at the profound impact this kind of continuous singing has on them. Chanting has always been used in spiritual communities – think of Gregorian singing, Sufi chanting, mantras, Buddhist and Hindu chanting – to experience connection with a higher power.

Here are some of the comments and feedback:

“Singing just opens me up and grounds me. Janet holds a very beautiful space and lets us all open up”

“I love singing in a circle. I love the effect the harmonies have on me. We connect with each other.”

“The impact of your circle sing compared with my years of singing with choirs is really quite extraordinary”

What background do you bring to it – you obviously enjoy it – why do you do it?

I’ve started and directed many choirs over the years, Ive composed and arranged songs for choirs, and taken choirs on overseas tours. I have an honours degree in music as well as teaching qualifications, and I have also trained in transpersonal breath work. This time I wanted to do something different – where I could draw on all my experience and be ‘in the moment’ in my teaching, and bringing together my interests in the healing powers of singing and breath, of chanting and humming. I really love teaching like this – I love responding to the energy of the group, which is different every week. I love how we move from warm up to rounds to simple songs, sometimes we work out simple harmonies, sometimes it’s more call and response, and sometimes we make things up. It is always different, always fresh and surprising as we work on deepening our vibration, and our connection with each other. Sometimes people come along in grief or joy – parents or friends have died or babies have been born – and we come together to support each other.

Apart from just simply being fun and uplifting, I believe that singing together is a form of communion.  For many people the Big Sing takes the place of church,  and there is a powerful and deep spiritual connection created with oneself and with others in the group.

One hour of simple singing, chanting, rounds, humming and improvising, in a safe and joyful space.

Mondays 9.30 to 10.30am – Brunswick Heads Picture House
$15 per class | 5 class pass $65 | 10 class pass: $120

Mondays 12.30 to 1.30pm – Fountain Room, Lismore City Hall, Lismore
$20 per class | 5 class pass $80 | 10 class pass: $150

Tuesdays 2pm to 3pm – Kingscliff Community Centre, Marine Parade, Kingscliff
$20 per class | 5 class pass $80 | 10 class pass: $150

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