Although Demelza has held several standalone choir sessions in previous years, our regular choir for employees, volunteers and families was launched in February 2023, with the arrival of Music Therapist, Kelly Fraser.
“I have been fortunate enough to lead choirs in a variety of different settings throughout my career and I couldn’t wait to begin the Demelza Choir. From its conception, our choir offer has been shaped entirely by the collective voice of our members. It is a joy to hold space for such an incredibly courageous and creative group of people and my honour to be of service to them. A wonderful sense of community is blossoming, and I am so excited for the adventures we will embark upon in the coming year,” says Kelly.
With around 20 members, the choir has already performed at family and fundraising events to support the charity, but for the members of the choir, the experience is much more than just an opportunity to perform. In a recent survey, 100% of respondents said that they felt the choir had improved their wellbeing, confidence and social connection.
“The choir has been a really positive experience for me this year. I was initially nervous about singing in a group setting as I haven’t done so for a long time, but Kelly has created such an incredible safe space to come together and be part of something meaningful without any pressure or expectations. No matter how tense or stressed I feel, walking into choir and seeing all the other members, taking a moment to reconnect with my breath, and adding my voice to some really powerful music always leaves me feeling happier and more comfortable in myself,” says Oliver, a Demelza employee.
Members of families that Demelza support have also benefited from their time as part of the choir too: “I really enjoy coming to choir, it’s my ‘me time’ away from work and busy home life. Kelly is so uplifting, encouraging and makes us all feel involved,” says Lorraine. “It took a while for me to be persuaded to come along, as I knew singing really was not my forte, but I am so happy and grateful that I did. To sing together as part of a group is pretty special, I enjoy it so much, and (I think) my singing has improved too.” Writes another family member, Maggie.
Collette, who has volunteered with Demelza for more than five years now, also greatly enjoys taking part in the choir: "Obviously being part of Demelza choir enables me to sing, which I love but everybody is so friendly there’s also the added social aspect which is great. Kelly is an absolute joy and takes everybody’s feelings into consideration.”
“It’s so wonderful to see Kelly take this concept and really grow it and bring the choir to life.” Says Victoria Swan, Demelza’s Creative Therapies Lead. “We’ve always focused on providing opportunities to make music with the babies, children and young people who access Demelza. But as adults, we need to participate in music too and opportunities like the choir enable this. Singing really improves our wellbeing and increases feelings of happiness. It requires deep, controlled breathing which benefits us, it calms our body and mind, it promotes good heart and lung health, and improves our concentration. 40 minutes of singing together has been shown to reduce our stress hormones, our cortisol levels, and these are replaced with our feel-good hormones, our endorphins.”