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World Wellbeing - One Breath, One Song at a time

World Wellbeing - One Breath, One Song At A Time

Dear Friend

September is shaping up to be a momentous month for me - I’m conducting a song for the mass choir fundraising event Sing for Water, celebrating World Peace Day with Croydon Community Choir and beginning an exciting new journey as MD of Singing in the City.  What these projects share is a commitment to using song to make a contribution, personally and collectively to the wellbeing of our world. This has long been my raison d’etre and my ongoing question - how can sound and song bring about positive change? - so here’s some thoughts from where I’m up to so far.

Artwork: Circles on the Water by Elina V. Kovach


Ringing the Changes
Ch-ch-changes - turn and face the strain - David Bowie
There’s much talk about changing the world and being the change you wish to see in the world. The world is always changing and so are we, so that’s not actually difficult. Sometimes, however, we are compelled to make a conscious stand - to be courageous, tenacious or downright determined - to turn and face the strain and call for ch-ch-changes.  This is where song can be a powerful medium of communication, as Charlotte Church demonstrated this week when she sang This Bitter Earth at the Greenpeace protest outside Shell HQ saying
This song just felt so appropriate to why I came here today. I wanted to capture the sorrow and regret that feels tied up with the melting ice, and the bitter irony of Arctic oil drilling.

Stretching from Strength
Stretching his hand up to reach the stars, too often man forgets the flowers at his feet. - Jeremy Bentham
I’ve always believed in saying yes to things that stretch me (quickly before I have time to think about it) because to stretch is to grow.  Some stretches of course can be more pleasurable than others and all will involve a certain degree of discomfort - growing pains.  These can be alleviated when we stretch from a strong foundation - just like a tree stretching its branches towards the light draws strength from its roots. What these might be are personal to each of us -  we may anchor ourselves in our passions, convictions, intentions, values or our creative or spiritual practice - but importantly, our roots are also changing and growing in the deeper parts of ourselves. This way we are strong and flexible, committed and yielding.

Communities of Change
Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world.  For, indeed, that's all who ever have. - Margaret Mead
When we are willing to stretch ourselves we can encourage others, especially when they are looking a bit scared standing on the edge of their next big change.  A singing group or choir is effectively that - a bunch of people who have decided they are willing to learn and grow together.  With that commitment there is no end to the possibilities available.  In 2002 Helen Chadwick had a dream to raise £1000 for WaterAid at the Thames Festival, now in 2015 Sing for Water events run across and beyond the UK and have raised over half a milllion pounds for lifesaving projects. This is the power of a community of change in action.

Legacies of Learning
I think the whole world is dying to hear someone say, 'I love you.' I think that if I can leave the legacy of love and passion in the world, then I think I've done my job in a world that's getting colder and colder by the day. - Lionel Richie
What starts with one person’s dream or vision can ripple out beyond them - to their friends, families, communities - and future generations.  When we take a stand and sing our song there’s no saying where it will lead us and who it will connect us to. This can seem vast - and it is - yet it unfolds in the moment, one breath, one note, one sound, one song at a time.

Wishing you a wonderful adventure of a September