5 things I know for sure

Polly Christie_4
Malmsbury conductor, musician and singing teacher Polly Christie on the importance of music in communities.

1. Singing in harmony with other people feels good and is good for you. The amount of times I have heard choir members say that after rehearsal all the stress and tiredness they felt at the beginning of the rehearsal has been replaced with energy and a calmer, happier disposition. Singing in harmony creates vibrations that are soothing to the ear and body-harmony has been used for centuries to create togetherness, joy and to express sorrow.

2. Choirs create and support healthy communities. When I first moved to Central Victoria I knew I needed to start a choir for many reasons, including meeting local people to sing with weekly. Since it began six years ago, friendships and connections within the choir have become strong. The “health” of a community is not necessarily when everybody is happy and jolly, but a “healthy” community has the time and ability to extend itself to help people.

3. Running choirs and conducting is what I am meant to do. I ran my first singing session at a festival in Victoria in the 1990s. By the third day I had 90 people singing their hearts out, which was an electrical experience for me. After running choirs for 10 years, I completed an honours year in conducting and developed my skills that now enable me to get the most beautiful and dynamic sounds out of choirs I never would have imagined.

4. Everyone can learn to read music. I have taught fully trained musicians through to beginners and have seen confessed music luddites finally reading from sheet music and making sense of it. The dots and sticks are just another language and if you can learn another language, then you can learn to read music.

5. Everyone has something to contribute. Some of my singers have gentle, light soft voices and couldn’t be a soloist but then I find out they bake the best cookies, which is handy when we’re doing a fundraiser. Some of my singers take a while to learn a song, but I find out that they are great at telling a joke just when we need it. Some of my singers remember that we need to support someone in the choir during a difficult time and will organise meals for the family. If everyone came to choir with exactly the same to offer, it would be difficult to get the wonderful diversity of sound – true harmony, blending different voices, personalities and skill levels to create a unified, harmonically rich sound.

For more information, visit www.pollychristie.com