‘It is a great feeling when you say out loud that you belong somewhere.’ Roxanne, the Yarra Songbirds.
If you are lucky enough to walk past The Community Hub, Studio 1, 15 Barnet Way on a Tuesday evening, you may be treated to the harmonies of the Yarra Songbirds as their leader gently and skilfully encourages them to lift up their voices and sing. Such beautiful and familiar standards as Stand by me, Ain’t no Sunshine, Moon River, Blue Moon, Lovely Day, Didn’t leave Nobody but the Baby can be heard wafting through the air as the vocal group gives these classics their own local, Richmond twist.
This relaxed and inclusive ensemble of six to eight members (depending on the night) is now in its third year and meets weekly from 6.15 p.m. to 7.15 p.m. The Yarra Songbirds were formed by the Richmond Community Learning Centre (RCLC) in collaboration with The Richmond Music Academy and are led by the talented Jenna Stamp, a professional music teacher from the Academy.
Sue is one of the vocal group’s regulars who works in the field of design in Prahran and resides in Richmond. She moved from Geelong three years ago where she also participated in a choir. Her take on the Songbirds is that it’s a fun, social and casual group of local and not–so-local residents of all ages who meet to sing simple, popular songs from the past and more recent times, in unaccompanied three-part harmony. Sue finds the Tuesday night routine really works for her: beginning the evening with warm-up vocal exercises, then practising a song they are working on, and often finishing up with a favourite piece they have mastered. Another plus for Sue is that their leader, Jenna, ‘is very patient with us as we all have different levels of singing experience. She is clever with her song choices to bring out the best in us all to achieve fantastic melodic results.’ Sue notes also that the members have become good friends as well as singing partners and often meet for dinner outside singing sessions.
Roxanne, another long-time member and nineteen-year resident of Richmond who teaches English at a local high school, echoes many of Sue’s sentiments about the group and adds that they have their own social media platforms such as Facebook and Whatsapp. She sums up some of the benefits of being a member as, ‘it is good for mental health, it connects people and there is a sense of belonging. It is a pastime where you can express yourself creatively whilst releasing those all-important endorphins. Dare I say, as good as chocolate!!’ One of the things that make the Songbirds so special for Roxanne is that their affiliation with the Richmond Music Academy means they have opportunities to perform during the year, particularly at open mic nights. She really values the community spirit such events can engender as they take place at local venues such as Dizzy’s Jazz Club, Annie Lewis Winehouse and Concrete Boots Bar.
A little Yarra birdy tells me the group would love their numbers to increase, so consider expressing your interest by contacting us at Richmond Community Learning Centre on: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling us on 03-9428 9901. The Yarra Songbirds can also be found on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1326022074081369/?fref=mentions
Cost: $10 per session – Your first session is free!