Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Celebrating Age Singing Group

On September 10th a new singing group will be starting, based at the Celebrating Age Centre on Victoria Street in Hamilton, New Zealand. I cannot tell you what it will be called as the participants will decide that. They will also decide what style of music they will sing, and how they will be accompanied. The only conditions are that they are at least 60 years of age, and that they want to sing, whether they think they can or not. I also hope that the group will take themselves, i.e. leadership will come from within the group. I want to have a mentoring role, and also be able to research the group.

This morning (and yesterday morning) at 7:30 a.m. I met with a group of nearly 30 of our MMP students here at the University (mixed media presentation).(there are 126 in the whole group) They do most of their learning via computer, and are here on campus this week for an arts intensive, with lessons in dance, drama music and visual art for 6 hrs for each Arts discipline. This singing session was added on to an already full programme, but they came!

Last time they were on campus I had some voluntary singing sessions with the whole group, and got the message that some lacked either confidence, or thought that they could not sing. These students, who self-selected, made up this morning group. Do I need to write that of course they can sing, and they did sing, and as a group made a really nice sound. Average age probably late 30s. Two 25-minute sessions will not change decades of lack of self belief in singing ability, but they have started, and they have heard what they can do. It is certain that everybody can sing!! I do not mean singing solos, in the same way that if you can write you don't have to write novels or poems. The new group at Celebrating Age will be founded on that knowledge.

Hilda Ross Glee Club performances

On  August 19th the Glee Club presented two performances, one at the Salvation Army Day programme, and one at the University of Waikato, as part of the 12@12 weekly performance programme. Then we took ourselves over to The Station, where we had lunch at reserved tables, a most pleasant and busy day.

The day before (August 18th) I had been to the Hilda Ross complex and talked with a group of about 15 people who were interested in joining the Glee Club. Conversation had occured saying that people thought thay they were not good enough so didn't come and join, so some of the Glee Club people told the visitors how much fun they had, and how much better they felt when they sing, and why they wouldn't miss practise, unless they really had to. This was very encouraging, and it will be interesting to see how many new members there will be at this week's practice.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

A Summary of my current position

Today, during a programme called 'Research Bites' I presented my current position after all of the discoveries and discussion of the past two weeks. I shared the findings out of the Singing and Health report from the Sidney de Haan Centre, which reflected much of my own findings, from open-ended-question surveys that I have been using with my groups up until now.

I now have three sets of data that I will be collecting.

Data 1
I am now in the position of getting 'critical mass' with thirteen groups of people with participants over age 60 filling out the following questionnaire between now and the end of the year, potentially up to 200 people.

  1. How does singing in *** influence your health?
  2. How does singing in *** influence your sense of wellbeing?
  3. How does singing in *** influence your quality of life?
Data 2
I have collected a second set of blood pressure data from the Hilda Ross Glee Club and this will grow into a longditudinal set of data with individual people's data as well as the collective data.

Data 3
I am working in the intergenerational setting with the Glee Club and the Rotokairu Tuis for a concert in the Hamilton Gardens Summer Festival in February 2010. Having made links with the AIRS project I will be looking at research guidance from the intergenerational group there, along with the Sidney de Haan centre faculty. This project starts in mid September.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Forward Planning

What a difference a week makes!!

I had a most informative and enjoyable conversation with Professor Stephen Clift on Friday afternoon. He sent me links to many things that they are doing from, and in, the Sidney de Haan Centre. He has agreed to be my mentor, and so my publication record is going to grow greatly in the next two years, since I can now have feedback from someone working in the same field, before I submit for publication.

Stephen put me onto the AIRS project (Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing) and I have applied to join. This is an international consortium of people, who are all working on the same area. As I have said to friends, I have not be so excited in a long time.

The AIRS project

What became clear in talking to Stephen is that we are working on the same things, and that I am potentially at the 'cutting edge' of this big corpus of work. With the Hilda Ross Glee Club working with the Rotokaura Tuis (a choir of 50 girls from Rotokauri School aged 6 - 12) for a concert at the Hamilton Summer Gardens Festive in February 2010, I have an intergenerational prorgamme starting in about two months. The consortium will allow me to ask questions of anyone else who has done such programmes, and how I can collect usefual data on this, to contribute to the field.

The main and overwhelming feeling and sense I have is that I am no longer working alone, that what I am doing is becoming more and more important and valued in a global sense, and that I can be a significant part of that.