Busy (concert) day

Today I woke up in a bit of a mood because last night I had an unsettled night’s sleep…. just when I didn’t need one. After all, I reminded the rest of my choir to sleep well, because today’s our concert day! And I have uni and things to do first. 

I’m revived by the brisk walk I took in to uni and have a plan for the day. Everything will get done that needs to – and at the end, party time! We’re looking to livestream the concert too, so hop on to our Facebook page (LaTUCS) around 18:30 tonight and watch us sing! 


Power of Music 

Yesterday was a good day. I got to (re)watch the first series of “Choir of Hard Knocks”, courtesy of the uni library. I only needed to watch the first two episodes for my class, but I enjoyed them so much I ended up watching the whole series over the day. After all, half-hour episodes are easily consumable.

The “Choir of Hard Knocks” was a program on the ABC about ten years ago. It followed Jonathon Welch as he gathered and trained an unlikely choir made of people who were homeless or otherwise disadvantaged in some way, for example through addiction. United more or less by an interest in music and singing, that disparate group of people came together. They started in the September of 2007 (I think – might be 2006 instead). By Christmas, they’d busked outside Flinders St Station and funded a trip to a recording studio, where they recorded a CD. They sold 4,000 copies that year. They then went on to sell out the main hall of the Melbourne Town Hall at a concert in March of the next year.

The thing that spoke to me when watching the episodes was how the choir brought the group together. They became “like a family” as more than one member said. It increased their self-esteem, self-efficacy and confidence, gave them a community. Many of the people were disconnected from family and major support networks. Choir provided them with security and something to live for. My favourite moment was watching them hear themselves on the CD – for many it was the first time that they’d heard their own voice played back to them. The expressions on their faces of surprise and delight lifted my heart. The expression said, “Oh my goodness, that’s me!” The other choir members validated them, recognising their newfound talents along with their own.

Jonathon Welch began with a group who were interested but had little to no training or experience. Some needed a lot of encouragement to sing properly. But there was hidden talent there just waiting to be brought out.

There’s something very powerful about music and the communities that form around it. It speaks to us because (whatever the kind of music) we connect with it – the lyrics or tune – in some way. It speaks to the human experience – and just sounds good (subjectively 😉). When that experience is shared it is given a deeper meaning.

These reflections made me think about occupational therapy in practice. After all, the original purpose of watching the series was to focus on two choir members and imagine what we’d need/want to do with them. Last week (or the week before) we talked about group work. Maybe one day I’ll lead a music therapy group as part of my practice…. I think I’d like that.

Today, the choir still exists. There’s now a “School of Hard Knocks“, with a number of different opportunities for disadvantaged people to sing together and create memories and community. The School of Hard Knocks has a few groups in the Melbourne Singers Festival this June.

Got My Walking Shoes On

Who else saw the sunrise yesterday morning? It was lovely.

Image of sun peeking over trees and house to rise. Sky is stained pinkish-red and there are streaky clouds.
I went for a walk yesterday, to a spot not far from home. I had some lettuce that had gone a bit yucky in the fridge and I figured that I’d take it to the spot where the ducks, geese and moorhens were and let them have it, while I ate breakfast there.

Smiling woman (MyZania) in foreground to the right of the pic. Behind her is some green grass with a few ducks and a waterway.
The birds ignored me when I sat down but as soon as my breakfast appeared they came closer to have a look. That’s another reason I brought the lettuce… One moorhen was so impatient and bold that it pecked at the sole of one of my runners! The goose from last time appeared last. It reminded me of a dog, the way it looked at me for food. Its tail even wagged a bit!

I wonder what sort of goose it is?

Goose viewed from behind, as it looks across the water. Close-up of the goose on grass with some other birds.
It was a good start to the day. It didn’t even take ten minutes to get there and I took “the long way” back. Now that I live close to uni and the train station, I walk a reasonable distance every day.

Being on the top/ first floor with the kitchen on the ground floor helps too. 😜

I like being able to do this. Someone suggested on Wednesday that I ought to bring my bike down and check out some of the bike paths around here. But I’m not sure I’m confident enough for that. For now, walking and PT’ing between places suit me fine.

A Damn Good Show

I went to a concert on Saturday evening, put on by Monash University Choral Society (MonUCS). It was a very fun event, though I’m rather tired today! Concert and after-party on one night + MIV Eurovision party on the next = big weekend. But very, very fun.

There’s something really special about going to an event like a concert and watching your friends perform. Different concerts, of course, have different vibes. Earlier in the year, I watched my boyfriend sing as part of a community choir for a Saturday afternoon event of the sunny-day live-music-entertainment sort. That was enjoyable. Saturday evening’s event was too but in a different way.

I watched the first concert to see my boyfriend sing in it. I didn’t watch with anyone else and after he’d finished, we left. Saturday was different because I was surrounded by friends as well as people I didn’t know who had come along for the same reasons as me: to support our friends and loved ones as they performed some wonderful music, the culmination of nearly three months’ hard work. It was an intimate yet grand setting of a church (so with great acoustics) and a good time was had by all.

Having attended a few MonUCS rehearsals earlier in the year, I had an idea as to what they’d be singing – but as it turned out, only a small one, as they’d added extra songs to their repertoire in the weeks since. As with any outing, feelings of anticipation and excitement played their part in preparing me for the show, as I got ready for and travelled to the event. I’d accidentally created a sense of atmosphere for myself before I left, by deciding to dress up a little. I love the buzz I get before performing something, especially in a group setting, and as I was reminded on Saturday I feel a version of that vicariously, too.

The concert on Saturday combined a range of different music types/genres, from the more classical (e.g. Mozart’s Te Deum, Vivaldi’s Gloria) to folk (e.g. Holst’s Swansea Town, Armstrong Gibbs’ Five Eyes). The first half had a mix of songs, while the second half was filled by the Gloria. I was swept up into the music from the first notes of the opening piece, Te Deum.

The sound of the singing, and the way the choir and soloists (for certain pieces) were complemented by the orchestra, moved me. I knew how hard they’d all worked to come to this moment and so I watched with a mixture of pride and joy in my heart as they gave us a lovely evening. It brought home to me again that while I love most kinds of music and singing, there’s something very special about choral music* sung by a massed choir. Singing/performing on one’s own or with a small group, with or without accompaniment, is one thing. Doing so in a larger group/massed choir is something else. Especially when you’re with friends. Listening, one is carried away by the sound of the pieces – both their musicality and the way that is used to convey a narrative (for example, in the folk songs). Done well, it is beautiful to listen to. Well done, MonUCS – and thank you.

P.S. See this link for a https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2FGraf.von.Schwarzwaldschokoladeskleinkuchen%2Fposts%2F10154386452781813&width=500” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>review from a friend, David. He goes into a lot more detail about the pieces than I did.



MIV 2018 Update: Aqua-demic Dinner Announced! 

(Hmm. I thought I’d posted this yesterday. Oh well.) 

So. Remember earlier in the week I mentioned some important emails and excitement? Below is what I was keeping a lid on… 😁

I hope you like puns. The announcement below is copied from my MIV email I received yesterday (11th May). Want to keep up-to-date? Subscribe here

Announcing our Aqua-demic Dinner

We all know you’ve been wading with baited breath, so for all coralsters from the high to deep C’s, we are eelated to announce that Aquademic Dinner will be held at Sea Life Melbourne Aquarium!

Did you catch that?

Whale have a great time changing the IV tunaverse as you know it and making this Aquademic Dinner a little more fincy. 

This gorgeous aquarium is a must sea, with a view that is off the scales.

If you wanna be where the people are, don’t flake out on us and get ready for a reely good time!



MIV Eurovision Party

Can’t wait til IV? For another fintastic time, come on over to our Eurovision party THIS SUNDAY for games, prizes and of course costumes 😊

WHEN: Sunday 14th of April, 6:30pm til late.

WHERE: 225 Cecil Street, South Melbourne 3205.
Plenty of parking is available and it is accessible by the #1, #12 and #96 trams. It’s going to be a fabulous night of glitz and music and we hope to see you all there.
Peace and love,

Alex and El xoxo
P.S. we hope you don’t get crabby about puns because we have pooled them shoal together on this email ❤️


Hope this link works. https://www.meaa.org/civiform?page=CiviCRM&q=civicrm/mailing/view&reset=1&id=1698

There’ll be some important people missing from the budget coverage today/tonight. I’ve unfollowed The Age on Facebook in protest as I’m not crossing the strike picket line by sharing anything they pull out to cover for themselves while their journos are on strike, no way.

Other actions: send an email to Fairfax CEO to ask him to reverse the cuts and/or watch and share this video from concerned leading Australian actors, writers, directors and other artists, because the Age cuts will hurt arts’ reporting too.



Impostor Syndrome 

Definition: “a concept describing high-achieving individuals who are unable to internalise their accomplishments and live in persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud.”

Or in my case, being intimidated by others in a group even as they’re friends, feeling like I’m not going to “do it right” because I’ve not done the role before and I’m younger/ less experienced etc. than them. I don’t like conflict either, so negotiating all that has been tricky. Subconsciously or not!

This has led to me feeling like I need to check in with people a lot before doing things while also feeling like I need to be seen as “keeping it together”. It wasn’t helped by the fact that I shared the role with someone else. To my mind, that meant we should act more-or-less as a unit – when actually, it turns out, we could operate separately and not always need to check in with each other before doing something.

Meanwhile, the others in the team think that I’m doing a great job with some great ideas. I just need to have more confidence in myself.

Interesting, as I hadn’t even realised I was undermining myself to myself while being thought of highly by others. Might clear up a bit now though because due to circumstances my role is going shift slightly soon. Instead of sharing the role, I’m going to take it on as a single position that’s supported by others when needed.

I just need to remember my confidence – boosted by my other team members who gave me a wonderful, affirming pep talk at our last meeting. It feels good to be appreciated. Now, I’m re-energised by the challenge rather than daunted. Though I do find it ironic that the week that I researched assertiveness for a uni assignment was this week just gone.

Evidence of the renewed confidence: last night I sent off three important emails and, while I discussed relevant details with some other team members – who helped clarify a few points – there were also times when I said to myself, “Ah, wait – do I really need to ask them about that, or am I just seeking reassurance?” The upshot of that is that the emails were sent, ready for viewing in the receivers’ inboxes when they opened them this morning – and one has already got back to me!

Confidence: level up.

Let’s continue like this, shall we?

Bring it on.


Concert tonight in Melbourne at RMIT in City 

Tonight I’m off to see some friends perform in a concert of music. RMIT Music is putting on a concert with pieces from their different groups. Performing groups are the RMIT Concert Band, the RMIT Stage Band, the RMIT Chamber Orchestra and ROCS (RMIT Occasional Choral Society). The concert’s theme is “Love and War”. Should be fun! 

See details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/778931325621814/?ti=icl

Good luck to all performers! 

Take contentment where you can


Image of a china teacup on saucer. Teabag is visible in the cup and the cup is full of milky tea. Text above the cup reads, "May you pick up your tea when it's exactly the right temperature, and may you happen ot glance out the window when the light is just how you like it."

A mundane blessing

My life is good atm.  I’m writing this sitting on the train back to my city home after attending a birthday party in my family one. It just got very busy due to the “footy crowd”, going home after attending a game. Most of the people seem to be from the winning side – though it’s a bit hard to tell as both teams have similar colours today. 😉 

It’s been a good month. Busy, but good. Or rather, busy and good. Not because of or despite, but just occurring in tandem. When that balance happens, contentment follows. I let myself feel that fully and try to guard it, so it doesn’t disappear when stress comes with the busyness. That’s easier said than done sometimes but I work at it. The first step is to take each day as it comes and grab contentment where I can. 

One trick is scheduling my time and being clear about my commitments. Knowing exactly what I have to do for uni each week is the first step in being able to plan when I’ll make time for it. (Something to do when I get back, after dinner.) 

This is important for my other commitments too (especially as they fit in around uni). For example, we’re just over eight months away from the Melbourne Intervarsity Choral Festival (YAY!) and need to start really getting our ducks in a row for some things, like bookings for in-festival events. There’s always organising to do for our pre-festival social gatherings for Melbourne choir people as well. There’s one coming up in a couple of weeks! 

Socialising with friends is a protective factor for remaining contented too. I’ve got a few things coming up (besides the one I’m organising above and the one I just came from) in the next few weeks where I’m doing that… including watching friends perform in concerts. Remind me to tell you about this week’s one later. 😊

Another thing that helps me stay content is by following the advice of someone I talked to a few weeks ago when the stress was getting to me a little bit: namely, knowing that I have integrity regardless of what happens and that, if someone or something challenges that, I can choose to accept their claim or drop it “like rubbish”. I can stay true to myself and don’t compromise on the things that truly matter to me. 

Experiences help me grow – so eyes on the prize and I’ll look back this time next year and see how far I’ve come. 

Finally, remember that I can rely on and trust my friends and family for advice and support, whatever I need. 

Full steam ahead. 

#Lest We Forget

Today is a day of reflection and commemoration (not celebration) for many Australians. We do this in different ways. The marches and speeches and so on are one way. I saw another way via Facebook last night, when the floodlights of the MCG were off and thousands of people stood in silence for a minute – you could only see the light of their phones, across the ground.

The link I’ve embedded below is another. We should remember those who fought and died as well as those who returned home wounded in body and spirit.


It’s also worth reflecting that the first ANZAC Day – the landing at Gallipoli – was 102 years ago and was part of a war they’d called “the war to end all wars”. Yet so many more have followed…

As said by Costa A here:

“ANZAC Day is about remembering how awful war is, how many Aussies died because of it, how many Aussies were brave enough to put themselves in harm’s way to protect us, and how – out of respect for all of this – we have to work as hard as we can to avoid the need for future wars. This means combating climate change, not taking the bait of dickhead Islamic extremists, and learning from our (Iraq, Vietnam) mistakes. Having a big strong tough-as-fuck army is important too. But it’s a Plan B we wanna have to use as little as possible. #lestweforget “