Singing proves a bonding experience for neighbours

With a little help from neighbours, a one-off community sing-along may be turning into a weekly choir practice with residents of a Mosgiel street.

Thornley Ave resident Eleanor Towns said about two weeks ago, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra invited all New Zealanders to join them in singing the traditional Maori waiata Pokarekare Ana.

The aim was to use the power of music to promote solidarity, particularly in unprecedented times.

She and her husband Keith shared the initiative with several of their neighbours in Thornley Ave, and by the time it came to sing the song, 18 residents had gathered in the street.

She said one of her neighbours played guitar, and another neighbour ran a power cable from their garage out into the street and set up a keyboard.

“We lasted 38 minutes that day.

“It was so much fun, we decided to do it again last Saturday and we lasted an hour.”

Music for the soul ... Vyv Hodgkin accompanies her fellow Thornley Ave residents on an electric...
Music for the soul ... Vyv Hodgkin accompanies her fellow Thornley Ave residents on an electric keyboard during their latest Covid-19 sing-along in Mosgiel yesterday. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The “mostly elderly” residents were out on the street again singing yesterday afternoon, just because they could.

While she did not know how long the choir would last, they would at least continue to meet regularly while under Alert Level 3.

She said residents from neighbouring streets were now starting to join in.

“A couple of ladies who both live alone came along last Saturday.

“As one of the neighbours said, this is a bond that we may never have had if this hadn’t happened.

“And it’s given us something to look forward to each week. I think it’s been good for many, many people.”

Mrs Towns’ daughter Dr Cindy Towns said her mother had always loved to sing, and seeing her face after the sing-alongs was “so much the antidote to some of the sadness that seems to surround the world at the moment”.

“As a geriatrician, I know just what a toll social isolation can take, particularly on the elderly population.

“This is an example of how communities can come together to bring joy, company and solidarity to each other in a challenging time.”


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