Our choir has been around since 2006. It was originally a small partnership between Blacktown City Council and TAFE, who decided to start a little project. The aim was to get senior people out of their houses and become more involved with the local community.
This was only a small six week project, but Council did what they could to keep the community group standing. The Council has supported our choir director, Linda Marr, for many years. Without her, it would be very tough to continue.
Our membership has always been between 35 – 45 seniors. We currently have around 45 people. Almost everyone is from the Blacktown Local Government Area. We only charge members $20 a year as a contribution towards our different activities.
We’re also very lucky because we have a good bunch of male singers for a community choir – we have at least 15 men. There will always be a big imbalance, but compared to most community choirs, we’re very lucky to have that range of voices.
We’re a very busy community group. We do around 15 gigs each year, so there’s usually something happening every month.
The choir performs in many different places around Blacktown, but mostly in senior’s clubs, retirement villages and at council events.
Our repertoire is quite eclectic! Linda is really keen on folk music from across the world. She’s even does a little weekly stint on 2MBS playing folk music.
Linda is knowledgeable and talented but, best of all, she’s patient, which is very important with a community group like this.
Singing is great therapy, and when you sing with a choir you slowly learn to keep in tune with the people singing around you.
Ten years ago l loved singing but I wasn’t very good. After many years of singing with this group under Linda’s direction, I can hold quite a tune, and I even sing in a little band. I’m having a ball in my senior years!
Recently stories have emerged in the media about how effective and life changing music can be. This is especially true for people who have Alzheimer’s or dementia.
These people’s minds don’t work as well anymore, but if you give them music to listen to, music that they’re been familiar with, their mind changes. Parts of their memory can come back and they sing along to a familiar tune. There have even been instances where people have been non-verbal, but discover they can sing.
We see it when we go to retirement villages. When people start to sing, they’ll tap along to the beat of our music, and you can see lights coming back on.
These moments are very special.
Friendships form among choir members, and socialising becomes the important part. As you get older, it’s easy to settle into a very quiet life, particularly when you’re still in your old house, as a lot of elderly people are these days.
Friends drift away, for different reasons, and you’re left looking at four walls.
So it’s incredibly important to have a regular group like this, to meet people we can call our mates.
– Ken and Marjorie Freeman
A Word from the Director
I’ve been directing the choir for close to 8 years. During this long period, there’s still the core of the original membership that was first formed, which has been great for everyone.
Welcoming new members has helped the choir in terms of developing the musicality of the choir, but the longer a group of people sing together, the closer their harmonies get. It’s like listening to a family when they sing together; you notice how their voices blend together. When a choir sings together for a long time the same thing happens, they become more and more polished.
Singing is rewarding for people. For the particular age group for this choir, the over 55s, there’s an isolation involved in being their age, and perhaps not having people around you all of the time.
But the choir is about even more than getting together to chat, it’s about getting together to sing, which really gives everyone a sense of fulfillment. This opportunity develops their individual potential. While they may be in an older age bracket, they can still learn from the choir, they can still give back to the community by doing performances. They can forge new relationships and build self-esteem.
Once members become more confident and feel like they’re improving, they begin to find their place and contribute elements of themselves to the choir. Directing the choir is very rewarding for me.
– Linda Marr
By Emily McTaggart
Where is Simply Voices performing next?
Simply Voices will perform at the charity concert for the Cancer Council at 2pm on Sunday, 23 October 2016 at the Blacktown Workers Club Ballroom. Entry is $10 for adults $10 and $5 for children.
For more information, contact:
- Ken Freeman | 0407 288 831
- Ken Simon | 0402 677 765
Blacktown’s own community choir Simply Voices has been a part of the Western Sydney music scene since 2006. Supported by Blacktown City Council, and under the leadership of musical director Linda Marr, the choir performs at civic events, community festivals, retirement villages and multicultural celebrations, and have even performed at the Sydney Opera House! With an exciting and ever-changing repertoire of popular classics, folk songs and world music, this is a group of people who simply love to sing – and do it beautifully.