Singing Can Change The World!
A bold claim, I hear you cry, and you would be right. But my boldness is based on experience and some tangible facts. We have heard many positive things recently about the individual health benefits from singing in a choir. Lung capacity increases, endorphins and feel-good chemicals flood the bloodstream. The shared experience and fellowship derived from choir membership has incalculable power to fight loneliness, stress, anxiety and depression. The list goes on. but I’m certain that many of you have been surprised at how much we can raise for charities, both local and abroad, simply by doing what we love and asking a tiny bit from those who hear us?
Milton Keynes Community Choir are a wonderful bunch of people. In 2008 they didn’t know each other at all. Since then they have raised money on a regular basis through raffles and concerts, and pop up “Sing” events, either in the Shopping Centre or wherever they will have us! There are many local charities who have benefitted from us simply performing what we were going to do anyway, and at a concert they get the proceeds from the raffle, the programme and refreshment sales, which often amounts to around £1000 a time.
Often disastrous world events take hold of the media and you can’t avoid the feeling that we are very lucky to live where we are, so the focus is on the relief aid that is going on and the little we can do to put something towards that massive need. In our city there are a number of places that let you turn up and shake a bucket or two but you need to ask first, and if they know you already it’s a bit easier. Last week the devastation of Cyclone Idai in Mozambique Malawi and Zimbabwe dominated the airwaves and we felt we had to get out there and do something. We had an hour and a half at the station from 5.30 to 7pm – when a lot of commuter trains come in, and some people (not all!) react very positively towards others who have gone out of their way to ‘brighten’ the end of their journey! The station has the added bonus for us of having a rather good acoustic, even in the corridor where we were hustled!
Then what to sing? Something related to the area we are collecting for would seem to be a place to start. During our time as a Community Choir we have learnt versions of one or two simpler African songs where the parts repeat fairly often and new verses can be created with only a few word changes and sometimes a translation. Bambalela, Mambo Sawa Sawa, Homeless, Freedom is Coming, A Keelie Makolay, Ipharadisi, Maliswe are all good examples of this type of song and can all be found on our ChoirCommunity site. When we were singing the words “Strong winds destroy our homes – many dead tonight it could be you” from ‘Homeless’ there was certainly a real intensity about the moment!
There are other songs which aren’t African but are just as easy to pick up – Down In The River, Bring Me Little Water Sylvie, I’m Gonna Lift My Brother Up etc.
The following day after our little sing, our amazing chairperson who had taken all the cash home and counted it revealed it amounted to £850! One of our basses couldn’t make it but was clever enough to start a JustGiving page for others like himself that couldn’t be there in person – this too raised another £800 in a few days. A drop in the ocean compared to how much need there is out there, but a wonderful way to spend the early evening and some useful practice into the bargain! It struck me that if every choir in the country sang at their local centre or station once a week – how much could be raised? Write to us with your fund raising stories and if you want to be part of a BIG SING fundraiser one day let us know!
By the way, if you want to see a video of the MKCC giving it their all last week, find the Facebook ‘ChoirCommunity Supporters Group’ (Search for us on Facebook) and join our growing group!