The ACH Group Foundation for Older Australians-sponsored ‘Sing for Joy’ choir
By Yasmin Noone
The voices of more than 50 enthusiastic South Australian seniors were raised in song last week, as the ‘Sing for Joy’ community choirs graced the Adelaide Festival Centre for their first concert ever.
Three Sing for Joy choir groups – from Payneham, Glenelg and Seaford in Adelaide – harmoniously performed together for the inaugural “Everybody Sing!” show before 500 people, as part of the annual COTA, Every Generation Festival.
The inclusive community choir, ‘Sing for Joy’, is funded by ACH Group Foundation for Older Australians and aims to help older people reconnect with singing and music regardless of their health condition.
It consists of a mixed group of people, aged 60-95, many who are frail while some experience memory loss or other conditions which have made it difficult for them to be part of other choirs. The choirs practice for two hours every week under the guidance of two choir leaders. The Payneham Choir has been going for two and a half years and the Seaford and Glenelg choirs were formed this year.
“Many choir members have shared with us that they have noticed an overall positive impact on their emotional well-being since they started singing. It has also stimulated their physical and cognitive abilities,” said senior manager at ACH Group’s dementia learning and development unit, Lenore de la Perrelle.
The senior’s choirs were joined at the festival by local favourites – the City of Playford Silver Beat and Highgate Primary Senior School choir. Guests on the day also included state Minister of Health and Ageing, John Hill MP, and SA Governor, Kevin Scarce.
A personal journey through song
Sing for Joy choir member and festival participant, Elizabeth Trenouth, joined the group by chance, having spotted a street sign calling for people to join the Payneham pilot in 2010.
At that time, Ms Trenouth was recovering from a serious head injury sustained from a fall, which had resulted in voice and memory loss.
She had just spent 15 months at the Royal Adelaide Hospital and although the rehabilitation was productive, she had limited progress with speech therapy.
Looking back over her journey, Ms Trenouth said she is astonished by the amount of progress she made – attributable mostly to the choir program.
“Part of my brain has come back,” Ms Trenouth said.
“Each week I find myself remembering things that I had forgotten – I’m sure that’s because of the choir sessions.”
Participating in the choir group gave her strength, a renewed sense of confidence, companionship and most importantly, helped her to find her voice again.
“I look forward to it tremendously every week. I especially enjoy the singing, the people and the companionship.”