To celebrate World Mental Health Day on 10 October 21, I was tasked to form a choir from members of our walking group, to sing a song in the rainforest in the Singapore Botanical Gardens. This will be recorded in a video to be shown at a webinar on World Mental Health Day.
Our walking group comprises an interesting group of individuals, all on the “right” side of 50 years. They can give talks and lectures, teach you how to invest in gold and silver, wax lyrical about poetry and art, tell you all about the intricacies of COVID vaccines, but most would not claim to be singers!
I had to cajole, coax and arm twist, to get a group of 16 out of 30 members of the walking group to form a choir, which we christened the NaMASingers, as the walking group is called the NaMASians (Nature and Mindful Awareness Study), our previous group activity.
We identified Voices of Singapore’s (VOS) Artistic Director, Mr Darius Lim (who conducted the 900 voice virtual choir singing ‘Home’, plus many other accolades) as our music impresario. Yes, we were ambitious!
Darius composed a medley of 2 songs, comprising a snippet of Prof Kua Ee Heok’s composition “There was a Time” and the Carpenter’s song, “Sing”.
VOS recorded the song track or singing guide, sung by Ms Joyce Lim, VOS’ resident artiste, to familiarize ourselves with the song. VOS also made a music-minus-one recording (music but no singing) for choir members to practice singing on their own. Darius gave one lesson over Zoom, to teach singing and breathing techniques.
And that was it! In a matter of 2 weeks, the choir learned the song, and each singer had to sing individually and be recorded in VOS’ sound studio. This can be a nerve wrecking experience, and I was crossing my fingers that no one would back out. But every singer took it in his/her stride, and I believe they actually enjoyed the experience. We went to the botanics for video filming one early morning, from 6.45am to 8.15am. All done.
It was a short and intense fortnight of singing. Very memorable. And good for our physical, mental and social health. (Watch the video below.)
Approval for filming at Singapore Botanical Gardens and Lower Pierce Reservoir was done through National Parks, and filming was done in compliance with both NAC and IMDA regulations. The video partners (Createurs Productions Pte Ltd) is a media company registered with IMDA for large scale content productions in Covid 19 situations.
Do read also an earlier blog, “Your voice, the best musical instrument“.