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Out of the shower, onto the stage

Many people think they ‘can’t sing’ but that’s pretty much never the case, according to the conductor of Geelong’s With One Voice community choir, Kym Dillon.

The With One Voice choir in Geelong. A range of young and old people, some people in wheelchairs. All the choir members are smiling.

Many people think they 'can't sing' but that’s pretty much never the case, according to the conductor of Geelong's With One Voice community choir, Kym Dillon.

'People's opinion about what makes a good singing voice is often determined by other factors. Sometimes people can watch a show like The Voice and they think that's what good singing is supposed to sound like, not realising that their own voice’s unique texture and characteristics, even its rough edges, can be beautiful as well,' Kym says.

The reality is most people can match at least some notes in most circumstances.

‘Even someone who's been told their entire life that they’re tone deaf, usually by their partner,’ she laughs. ‘I've heard that one many times.’

Kym, a professional musician, has been a conductor with Creativity Australia’s With One Voice choirs for the past 12 years. Creativity Australia facilitates 32 community choirs across Australia, which are open to anyone to join, as an arts-health social inclusion vehicle. According to Creativity Australia, 'Neuroscience proves singing connects neural pathways in the brain differently, releasing endorphins, making people healthier, happier, smarter and more creative.'

Kym conducts three choirs, including two With One Voice choirs, and regularly sees their positive impact.

'Some people have told me it's the thing that keeps them going, that quite literally they rarely leave the house for anything else, and that people who are feeling really unmotivated or are even experiencing depression find that this is something that really helps them hang on week to week. That is an extremely moving thing to hear.'

The Geelong With One Voice choir has about 60 members, and is open to new people.

'Come along and give it a try and see what you think,' Kym says.

'You don't need to know if you're a soprano, alto, tenor or bass, or even to know what those terms mean. I'll never put a sheet of music in front of you and expect you to be able to read it! I build the music from the ground up to kind of ease you into it, so that you feel like you can start singing straightaway without having to have a bunch of technical knowledge first up.'

Potential participants can also attend a first rehearsal for free to see if they like it.

'Often, they come intending to observe at the back and not sing. But over the course of the rehearsal, I’ll usually see them start joining in. That happens very often,' she laughs.

Apart from its weekly rehearsal, the choir performs regularly in the community, including a recent gig on ABC radio’s breakfast program.

'Audiences always love these choirs' performances because they can see that the choristers are just being themselves, the joy on display feels really natural and organic,' Kym says.

Even the shyest of choir members enjoy working towards a specific gig.

'One of my favourite things ever is people telling me that was the first time they have ever performed, that they never imagined they would do something like that, and that they loved it.

'I love sharing that kind of elation that you get from performing - it's just awesome.'

Reviewed 21 December 2022