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Cyprian Fernandes: Sydney's Songbirds

Beverley de Rosario, Silroy Thomas, Dinham Suhood, Leela Pacheco, Mary-Ann Morrell, Gloria Vaz, Marilyn Thomas, Alfred Vaz, Nyrelle Duncan, Mona Dias, Pax Crowe, Doug Gerke, Bart Pacheco  (seated), Joe Menezes (absent).



The "Songbirds" was started out by a very accomplished lady pianist, who played the piano at a Nursing Home - she invited a few of us to sing - there were only 3 singers then! Now the current Songbirds' group comprises of 14 volunteer singers/musicians, mainly retired (5 men and 8 women) who are all from diverse backgrounds. They would like to give back to the community in some way through entertainment and to bring some happiness and self-satisfaction not only to themselves, but as well as to the older generation of the nursing homes.
For the past approximately 14 years the Group has been singing on the second and fourth Tuesdays of each month at two Aged Care Nursing Homes and despite the distances some have to travel, they consider this contribution a de-stressor too! It has a Nonagenarian musician, who played professionally many years ago and is an accomplished pianist - he is also quite adept with playing the saxophone and clarinet. We have two other exceptionally talented pianists, one of whom is also our Maestro and the other an Octogenarian. A couple of the singers come from musical backgrounds and able to sing both Alto and Soprano.
This group has been well received by the residents of the two nursing homes where we sing and they look forward to the days we come to entertain them. This has been the response not only from some of the residents but also the nursing home directors. The expression of joy in each of their faces is enough motivation to keep us going. Seeing the frail aged residents respond with a tune and a smile as we provide enjoyment and diversion from their everyday routine, encourages us to give a little more through music stimulation and social interaction, musical appreciation, recall, reminiscing and songs of their youth which is also special to us all.
During the Christmas Festive season, the group sings the usual Christmas songs and dress the part of wearing red and white with Christmassy hats and such like attire.
The repertoire of the Songbirds is mixed as many of the older aged care generation have hailed from the UK or Ireland – we sing songs which they can reminisce of the youth or an era they know well, like songs of Frank Sinatra, old wartime songs, musical theatre numbers and even modern songs from the Beatles! We of course include well known Australian folk songs.
We have now combined this with singing songs from the popular Cabarets and Show stoppers which is well received, as each aged person is given a copy of the songs for them to participate in. Their enthusiasm is infectious and we are at times tempted to get up and dance!!
Music is the door to our Souls!