Poster presentation for BECM conference Alison Talmage, School of Music, The University of Auckland Suzanne Purdy, School of Psychology, The University of Auckland Te Oti Rakena, School of Music, The University of Auckland Daphne Rickson, Victoria University of Wellington Abstract: The CeleBRation Choir is a community singing group for adults (predominantly 65+) with a variety of communication difficulties resulting from an acquired neurological condition, such as stroke, Parkinson’s disease or dementia, and partners / carers. An initiative of the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research, the choir has been a focus for community engagement and research for over ten years. The choir protocol focuses on communication rehabilitation and quality of life, drawing on research and practice in the fields of neuroscience, speech science, music therapy and community music. The choir leader’s current action research doctoral study focuses on analysis and improvement of practice. The e-choir project is a response to enforced self-isolation and social distancing due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Participation rates indicate that the e-choir is accessible to many (but not all) choir members, and other resources have been offered to members unable to participant online. The e-choir programme interweaves community singing, songwriting and other paramusical elements, and participant engagement suggests a positive impact on social connectedness, cognitive stimulation and emotional wellbeing during this traumatic period. This poster outlines how the existing choir approach has been adapted for the online environment, highlighting the emerging vital themes, such as song choice, familiar and new experiences, interaction, humour and creativity. Reflections from participants and song lyrics reveal collective and individual emotional responses to this unanticipated e-choir experience.
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