‘I’ve always been a singer and have traveled the world singing. Arriving at a backpackers in London, I bumped into an Aussie who said ‘I know you, I saw you sing in Geelong on the Millennium New Year. I’ve seen an ad that’d suit you.’ It was for a job singing on a Mediterranean Cruise Ship and I did it for 6 months. When we cruised to Egypt I remember looking up at the Great Pyramids of Giza and thinking, “I am only here because I love to sing.”’ I’m talking to Belinda McArdle of Acabellas, who stage their annual Songs of Peace event this Sunday.
‘In 2003 when I was back in Geelong a friend took me along to a Community Choir in St Kilda, I loved it and attended for two years. I was living in Autumn St, Geelong West, at the time and one day looked across at the Senior Citizens Hall and thought “I’d love to build a Community Choir here in Geelong and maybe I can hire that hall.” It has been our singing home ever since.’
‘I started with four people in my Friday morning group and 20 in my Thursday group and many of them still attend regularly. Along with my colleagues, Lisa Singline and Sue Hindle, we now run 10 regular weekly groups in singing, music and well-being.
‘My own focus in Acabellas is singing. Singing means the world to me and I believe everyone has the right to sing, if they want to, because it is such a healthy activity on every measure. I write a lot of the songs we sing myself. Lyrics are very important because when we sing songs we are practising thoughts and messages – songs are a good place to start in having kind values and thinking patterns. We laugh a lot and cry a lot. Singing builds a strong community in such a profound way. Singing is also very healing. The vibrations within us release endorphins which are so good for wellbeing, the whole experience is so uplifting.
‘We also run instrumental groups at Acabellas, welcoming players of all instruments and our wellbeing groups focus on sound healing and being well and nurtured. We held our first two-night singing and nurture retreat in October with another planned for April.
‘Our groups span all ages and we are proud of the way people introduce one another to the group and that we have many family and friends groups within the circles. We have three generations of men in one group, couples of all varieties, mothers and daughters, cousins and all and new friends. Making music together builds new friendships and strengthens existing relationships.
‘Acabellas has been the meeting place for many ongoing musical collaborations such as Angels of Joy who for 11 years have been regularly visiting local nursing homes to sing. Every year they have a very busy Christmas programme generously giving the gift of music to our local services.’
‘We are all meeting at the park on the Cnr of Pako and Autumn Street in Geelong West, this Sunday the 4th at 2pm for our 3rd annual SONGS OF PEACE event. We will stand in a circle and sing songs of peace (in lieu of traditional Christmas Carols) to celebrate the festive season. Anyone is welcome to join us for this free event.