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The Northern Scot
Kate aims to have your heart and soul singing
In the wake of Gareth Malone and the Army Wives' chart-topping Christmas No 1, wannabe singers across Moray are being urged to get involved with a spirit-lifting choir of their own. The physical and mental health benefits of group singing are plentiful, according to voice teacher Kate O'Connell, who wants locals to "Make 2012 the Year of Song".
"People go away after singing both better and more relaxed. You see people coming in and looking really exhausted and low in spirits; they leave with a huge smile on their face", said Kate, who has been merrily singing at every opportunity since she was a child.
Co-directing the 60-strong Forres Big Choir with Bill Henderson, she is also artistic director of popular acappella group Too Many Kooks.
Recently added to Kate's music stand are two choirs aimed at women on weekday mornings: Healing Harmonies and Women Who Love to Sing.
"Both focus on the benefits to our health and wellbeing from singing together", said Kate, who doesn't claim to cure diseases but says she can usually bring, at the very least, a smile.
A Voice Series on Tuesday evenings, aimed at anyone who wants to try something new, is also being launched. Subjects include: Find Your Voice, Balkan Harmonies and Vocal Improvisation.
"The way I work is to make sure that people are using their voices properly because that makes a huge difference. Most people don't take a full breath into their lungs in order to use their voice in an open way. That actually leads towards general health and people do feel better afterwards", said Kate.
On top of physical strengthening and a great sense of achievement, strong friendships can be made to help bust away the blues.
"People bond in a way that is quite deep. It is like in sport, you become very close to your team-mates.
"In Healing Harmonies, we sing very simple songs that reach out to other people in the world. I do believe that if you sing and send out your voice it can have a real impact."
Confidence gained in the music room translates into other parts of life, singers claim, and many of those who were once told they could not sing or to 'be quiet' have gone on to find their voices.
"People come to me with a small voice and the more you work with the voice to release it they can become stronger. It is wonderful to see", said Kate, who has been singing since she was "tiny".
First encouraged by others, she decided to make music and song her career because of the impact it had on her life.
"I just love it, it makes me happy and when I am singing in harmony with other people I love the sounds we make. It excites me.
"The whole thing about my singing work, and I know it sounds awful, is that we want to spread joy, love, happiness and good feelings.
"I believe there are so many troubles in the world and we want to do our bit to lift people's spirits.
"It is something that everyone can join in with and it really can bring people together", she said.
(10 February 2012)
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