Come and join inclusive choir

Members of the Melbourne Youth Chorale.

By Jamie Salter

The Melbourne Youth Chorale (MYC) Flying Free Choir is a music therapy program for children with an intellectual disability.

Children aged eight to 12 who are living with a disability are empowered through MYC’s choral and musicianship training program, with a special focus on communication.

The Flying Free therapy choir is directed by musician, singer, music teacher and registered speech pathologist Monika Harris.

“I did my Masters in speech pathology and I’ve been working in choirs for about eight years, so bringing those skill sets together makes sense to me,“ she said.

“We’re combining choral and speech therapy together, which research shows is really beneficial for these kids.

“In between singing and playing games together, we’re doing speech related and conversation activities.“

She said she hoped new members would take advantage of the free program.

“I think if kids enjoy singing it’s a really good way of enhance their musical ability and speech therapy goals – it’s fun for them and they don’t even know they’re in therapy.“

Flying Free Choir classes run from 5.30pm to 6.15pm on Wednesdays in term-time at Beaconsfield Neighbourhood Centre.

The project is supported by the Reimagining Health: A VicHealth Partnership Grant, designed to fund projects to support children and young people.

MYC president Kerry Alexander said the program was designed to teach children music at their own pace.

“Having something especially for them means they can learn thoroughly and not feel overwhelmed in the main choir groups, and gives them an opportunity to join in with the other choirs later on,“ Ms Alexander said.

“There’s no singing background required and even non verbal kids can join in their own choir.

“In 2018, we moved to a fee free structure to eradicate financial barriers so disadvantaged kids can come and have a thorough music education and belong in a community that is growth oriented.“

The Melbourne Youth Chorale has been running for 35 years and will celebrate with an anniversary concert supported by the City of Casey at Clyde North’s Hillcrest Theatre on Saturday 2 April.