After a whirlwind weekend, with my mother rushed to hospital to begin treatment for an unexpected life threatening illness, it was heart-warming to be welcomed into the safe haven of The Transformers’ weekly choir rehearsal, at such short notice.
The Transformers meet in the Cerebral Palsy League Hall, Windsor each Wednesday to warm up their vocal chords and their spirits.
There’s no excuse for shyness here.
Singing is the aim and all attempts are enthusiastically and genuinely applauded, I’m told by several people on arrival.
I meet the choir manager, Mike Meade inside who informs me that the choir has had a higher than usual profile this year in the community.
“In the choir’s brief two and half year existence, we’ve mainly performed for friends and family, however in the past few months, the audience numbers have grown significantly,” Mr Meade said.
“Since May, the choir’s: recorded an original track as part of the Songs for Queensland compilation album in support of Queensland’s flood and cyclone victims; performed with Deborah Conway at the Brisbane Happiness and its Causes conference in front of 2500 people, as well as privately for the Dalai Lama; and performed during the Queensland Music Festival’s Country Comfort Hour.
“We’ve been winding down a little recently though, as in October we’ll be recording another original song, What more do we need, a song about love in our hearts, to be released by the end of the year,” he said.
The 40 members that make up the choir most weeks have a variety of backgrounds and reasons for being involved.
Referred by a variety of community support organisations, the members, especially Darl, enjoy the regularity and consistency of the program.
“I watched the ABC television program about Melbourne’s Choir of Hard Knocks and found out about The Transformers through an art group a few years ago,” Darl said.
“It’s consistent and long-term, not short-term like other options,” she said.
Michael who’s standing by has been with the choir just as long.
“The singing gets me out of the worries that I might have….it’s a really good focus,” Michael said.
Kiri Waiata-Green, choir accompanist and class clown, as she likes to be known, is leading the vocal warm up for this week’s gathering.
“The first hour today is about seeing how the group members are feeling on a scale of one to 10, warming up our voices and helping them feel grounded,” Ms Waiata-Green said.
We start by loosening our facial muscles, giving ourselves mini-massages and then uniting with our voices.
Everybody ought to know, is an adlib song sung with everyone present having a solo in a call and response fashion.
Of course I start sweating profusely at the thought of an adlib solo.
Outwardly enjoying everyone else’s contribution, internally panicking about what phrase I’ll come up with and will it even be in tune and audible.
It’s my turn; I relax and suck it up like a buttercup, to use an analogy of Kiri’s.
Everybody ought to know, everybody ought to know, everybody ought to know….that I’m here with The Transformers.
It was true, I felt like I’d been singing with them for years and reaping the benefits of positive community.
I may just be back.