(Supplied: Jacob Morrison @jcbmrrsn) ABC Sunshine Coast
By Kylie Bartholomew
March 07, 2018 10:26:23
Pub Choir director Astrid Jorgensen wraps up teaching an arrangement of Paul Kelly’s Dumb Things to 320 people at Maroochydore.
Pub choir raises the bar for wannabe singers
Loud. (Supplied: Jacob Morrison @jcbmrrsn)
The Pub Choir team — including musicians, photographer, emcee — gives itself just under two hours to teach a random song to hundreds of wannabe singers.For many, it’s their first time singing in public.Director Ms Jorgensen said the song choice was crucial.”I want it to be well known and people to know the melody,” she said.”It also needs to be achievable … so I am really determined to make these people sound great.”To achieve that, the group is split into low, medium and high harmonies.Every event has a different song and securing copyright licences was challenging and expensive.”But once we’ve got that, I’ve got to arrange the song in an original and achievable way for hundreds of strangers,” Ms Jorgensen said.She said the response from the Sunshine Coast event proved the concept could be taken wider than south-east Queensland.”We were the first in the world to be called Pub Choir … it’s a unique thing that we’ve got going on and I think it really suits Australian culture as well.”Brave. Pub Choir is a phenomenon that started in Brisbane a year ago, but the fascination of uniting hundreds of strangers to learn a pop song as a collective voice is expanding nationally.The movement’s first event outside Brisbane was held recently on the Sunshine Coast.Director and creator Astrid Jorgensen said it was a test run for the concept to expand beyond south-east Queensland, with dates locked in for Hobart and discussions underway for the event to be held in Melbourne.”We’ve been getting messages from all around the country, people asking us if we can come to their communities … even messages from Egypt and Dubai,” Ms Jorgensen said.”Obviously the Sunshine Coast is only a short drive from Brisbane but it was really exciting to see that in a new place we can still bring people together.”So I think it’s going to expand even further after this.”The first event in Brisbane a year ago drew a crowd of about 80 people and each subsequent event has grown in popularity to the point where organisers now turn people away.More than 300 people came together on the Sunshine Coast, the group’s first out of the state’s capital to learn Paul Kelly’s ‘Dumb Things’. Photo:
Men join in the Pub Choir phenomenon in Maroochydore. (Supplied: Jacob Morrison @jcbmrrsn)
Enjoy belting out a tune? (Supplied: Jacob Morrison @jcbmrrsn)
Sharon Daniels from the Sunshine Coast was so curious about the recent event, she went by herself — something she wouldn’t ordinarily do.”I nearly did turn around and go home but after watching the videos on everyone else doing it I knew that no-one would know I was by myself and so I just blended in with crowd,” she said.Also out of her comfort zone was Jessica Raintree, but she said she’d do it again.”Singing in public with strangers is definitely outside my comfort zone,” she said.”I found myself confidently belting out the lyrics with a couple of hundred strangers and a few close friends.”Fellow singer Angie Spears said she was not surprised that Pub Choir was drawing crowds.”I came away feeling like a rock star!”And Gayle Forbes said that “buzzing” atmosphere was rare these days.”This type of collective happiness doesn’t happen enough.”And Liza King also cherished the experience.”Singing loud and proud without judgment or fear that I might be singing out of tune … and singing a song in harmony in a room filled with strangers was such an amazing experience.”Why does singing make us feel so euphoric? Photo:
Pub Choir director Astrid Jorgensen teaches the lyrics of Paul Kelly’s Dumb Things to 320 singers at Maroochydore. External Link:
Pub Choir Maroochydore
Ms Jorgensen believed singing was something we all loved to do, but often resisted out of fear of being judged.”Giving people the permission to feel comfortable singing out loud and as joyously as they want really does speak to a lot of people.”She said the singers often had had “heartbreaking” negative experiences with singing and the goal was to make them feel less scared.”So many people come to Pub Choir events and tell us stories of how they were told they were bad by a teacher in grade two or they were told to mime in the choir,” Ms Jorgensen said.”A lot of people don’t even drink at Pub Choir, it just feels like a safe environment to be a little bit rowdy and to miss a note is not going to be a big deal.”Logistics of making it work
More than 320 people attended Pub Choir’s first event outside of Brisbane. Here’s why:Exercises the lungs, throat and diaphragmIncreases air flow and gets more oxygen into the bloodReleases endorphinsProvides emotional release and positive changes in moodGives an emotional connection to complex conceptsConnects people with strangersSOURCE: Andrea Morris-Campbell, QUT
Andrea Morris-Campbell, a music lecturer from Queensland University of Technology, said that was due to its physical, mental and emotional benefits.She said the joy of singing on your own was increased when many individual voices became one.”There’s something quite visceral about standing beside other people and making voice and turning that voice into a melody and turning the melodies into harmonies,” she said.”When you come together as a range of people, with different belief systems, different backgrounds, it’s really symbolic I guess of a single person becoming part of a group.”And we all like to be part of a group and be accepted for our commonality as well as our differences.”Ms Morris-Campbell said because singing was a natural method of communication, irrespective of language or differences, the appeal of Pub Choir made perfect sense.”The Pub Choir really shows you, what is a choir?” she said.”A choir is a group of people coming together and doing something they enjoy and so that never goes out of date, does it?” Proud.
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