Choir helps singers find voice
BEING able to speak is the only requirement for joining Ipswich's daytime community choir.
The IDA (Ipswich Definitely Abled) Singers welcome all comers with different kinds of ability and disability.
Formed in March 2011 by singing teacher and keyboard player Michelle Jaques, the choir attracts members who can rehearse during the day.
"IDA happily welcomes singers from all sections of the community. You only need to be able to speak to sing," Ms Jaques said.
"Everybody deserves and has a right to have access to culture and to be part of a group where they feel they can make a contribution.
"I've got an old fellow in IDA who would be 70 and we've got people under 20.
"I would like to see more retired people, and singing in a choir will also help people who are learning to read English, because of the repetition and diction.
"For some people, the choir is the only thing where they have mattered and been told they're good.
"Singing actually releases endorphins, which is a physical reaction to singing which makes you feel good.
"We do all sorts of music. It's leaning at the moment to hits of the '70s."
Ms Jaques is inspired by The Choir of Hard Knocks, which included homeless and disadvantaged people from Melbourne.
This choir came to prominence as the subject of a five-part ABC series broadcast in 2007.
IDA singer Mike Kingham travels from his Laidley home to attend choir rehearsals every Monday. His guide dog Bob goes with him.
"There's quite a few people in the choir who have disabilities," Mr Kingham said.
"I was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa (eye disease) 20 years ago.
"It's only in the last five years that I've had no vision. I can see light.
"I'm trying to learn to sing. I play a bit of guitar."
Mr Kingham said the IDA choir was open to everybody.
"You just come along and enjoy, and have a bit of a yodel," he said.
"My main problem is remembering the words.
"I can't see people screwing up their faces if I hit a bad note."
Ms Jaques said she would like the singers to perform in public.
"The aim is to have about 25 people so that we can have performances," she said. "We are at the moment only insured for rehearsals.
"As soon as we can perform, we can raise money for charities and causes.
"The goal for 2012 is to somehow obtain funding - $900 per year - for performance insurance, and to keep steadily growing."
Inquiries about sponsorship or membership of the choir can be directed to 0409 578 521.