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Heritage Community Singing Regional Tour 2023

Funded by the NSW Government through the Queanbeyan-Palerang Regional Council, the Heritage Community Singing Regional Tour was a participatory program designed to actively engage members of the community in singing heritage songs for wellbeing and social cohesion. Based upon a successful event held in Queanbeyan Park for the 2022 heritage festival, the events were facilitated by Dr Georgia Pike-Rowney, Queanbeyan resident and researcher, singer, and community music facilitator. The tour was inspired by Georgia's fellowship at the National Library of Australia, exploring community singing in interwar Australia (1918-1939). The regional tour provided direct, local access to communities across the region, as well as for people with limited mobility, such as residents of care facilities. A series of eight participatory concerts were held across 2023 across the Queanbeyan-Palarang region, including:

  • Araluen Federal Hall

  • Braidwood Servicemens Club

  • Heritage Care Queanbeyan

  • Queanbeyan Day Club

  • Warrigal Care Queanbeyan

  • BaptistCare George Forbes House

Community singing is a particularly impactful and cost-effective means of rebuilding community cohesion

and enhancing wellbeing. The whole community was encouraged to sing along with Georgia, accompanied by musician

and educator Dr Susan West on piano. The events promoted active engagement by participants of all ages in shared social heritage, bringing a vibrant era of history to life.

The impact on the community is best described by the local organisers who provided feedback on the

events, which focused on the level of engagement, reconnection and wellbeing that was evident

during and after the singing events:

‘It would be great to hear if you are able to come back again, the residents loved it so very much!!

…honestly and truly this had the best reaction from a singing entertainment performance. You were

amazing and very interactive with the audience and the residents loved that. It evoked many

memories and happy times with the songs and relating to the era and area they grew up in. The

performance showed immense talent and a high energy which made many of the residents very

happy. I had beautiful feedback from the residents about this performance with so many smiles

upon leaving the room.’ (Aged care lifestyle coordinator in Queanbeyan)

‘Feedback has indicated that this Community Lunch has definitely enabled new connections, and

reconnections, within the community, but singing together brought them, in a different way, to a

greater level of engagement. They reminisced about the old days, the old songs and the people who

sang them. It was easier for people who found themselves next to a newcomer to the town, to

introduce themselves and chat when they were sharing a meal, talking and, especially, singing, next

a newcomer. If you're singing, you don't have to wait for a space in the conversation to break the

ice with a newcomer. Everyone sings at the same time in Community Singing, catches the eye of

another, makes us laugh. Singing together is an opener! We learned more about the background

and experiences of others as we chatted about the songs. We learned that some of us had good

voices, some not so good, but most people joined in with gusto. People talked about their musical

preferences and abilities, or about memorable music events they'd enjoyed. From comments heard

I'd say the general response would be to recommend this event to other groups. You can be with

friends, meet new ones, learn more, relax, laugh and be happy - when you sing in community!’

(Community volunteer, Braidwood)

‘I think it was a great way to get together, and a few people there I wasn't expecting- which is just

lovely… We had 12 people come- ages ranging from 12 months to 83 years, three men (including the

youngest)...What I noticed was that everyone was looking carefree - no squirming in the seats and

they all sang with open hearts and voices - a lovely way to craft more connections- thank you.’

(Community volunteer, Araluen)

‘Well what a lovely way to spend a Sunday morning. Such fun, certainly learned and appreciated the

way singing did and still does contribute, enjoyed [male participant’s] singing and [female

participant’s] information [memories about local history connected to the songs]. I would certainly

recommend’ (Event participant, Araluen)

‘This event was attended by some of my community whom I have come to know over the years,

living in Araluen part time. Lovely to have also met up with unfamiliar members of the community. It

was very interesting learning stories from an elderly member of our community about the songs and

people in the area that related to the songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the singing, historical information

and participating in event with my community. I will definitely be recommending it to others and

returning myself if I am in Araluen at the time.’ (Event participant, Araluen)


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