Just sing out and smile with Circle Singing
DIVERSE members of the community coming together each week to sing, chant and enjoy - that's the idea behind Big Sing - the brain child of Brunswick Valley-based singer, teacher, performer and songwriter Janet Swain.
"Big Sing started about 18 months ago at Brunswick Picture House," Janet said.
"We had the idea that the Picture House needed a choir, but I didn't really know how it would work.
"I've been teaching choirs for many years, usually community choirs with four parts, and music and long rather laborious rehearsals, so I wanted to do something different.
"So now I spend one hour teaching simple chants and songs and guiding vocal improvisation that is often called Circle Singing.
"I don't hand out lyric sheets and I don't teach complicated harmonies, so it really is a group for anyone who wants to connect with their own individual voice."
Every Monday morning all kinds of people gather at the Picture House to sing together and connect with their community.
The circle is open to everyone - locals, visitors, kids, babies, singers and anyone who has been longing to sing in a safe, friendly, joyful space.
"We have mums with small babies and our oldest singer is 95 - Ray started singing when he was 90 and is now a regular with us in Brunswick Heads!" she said.
Janet has founded and directed many community choirs in Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Singapore and the Byron Shire, and she has developed a dynamic and original teaching style.
These days she lives in the Byron Shire and her current projects include not only Big Sing - Own Your Voice but the Dynasty8 Chamber Choir, music comedy ensemble The Loveys, and her private singing studio.
This year Janet founded the inaugural Festival of the Voice in Brunswick Heads, which will be an ongoing bi-annual event, and she is working on a festival subscription series of six exciting concerts in 2020.
But the expansion of Big Sing is also at the top of her to-do list.
"Big Sing has just started in Lismore and is about to start in Kingscliff at the beautiful Kingscliff Community Centre, right on the beach," Janet said.
"It is a wonderful space for singing and I am planning some longer weekend singing workshops as well as the regular weekly Big Sing.
"There are so many health benefits of singing together in community.
"I have been researching the vagus nerve - the nerve that originates in the brain and travels through the entire body. It is connected to the vocal chords.
"Digestive complaints, high blood pressure, anxiety and inflammatory conditions can all helped by these practices.
"Apart from just simply being fun and uplifting, I believe that singing together is a form of communion," she said.
"For many people the Big Sing takes the place of church, and there is a powerful and deep spiritual connection created with oneself and with others in the group."
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