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  • Writer's pictureMeera Belle

The Power of Community

PPVS recently tried a new initiative after feedback from students about the concerts PPVS has been scheduling for the past few years. At the moment we have our Mid-Year and End-Of-Year/ Xmas Showcase concerts which used to be held at the Richmond School of Arts before PPVS was suddenly evicted in favour of using our former studio as chair storage instead.

Now we are happily rehoused and using the fabulous Richmond Regent Theatre which has been a much better arrangement both in terms of stability and safe access, so our first concert there was just wonderful. The experience of being on a proper stage cannot be underestimated.

However, it brought up some expectable issues for a few students.....singers who find it very confronting to perform publicly and are just not quite ready to take that step. It is very true and valid that not every singer WANTS to perform in public and certainly PPVS is NOT one of those 'Hollywood/Broadway' pretenders that espouses to train only 'winners' and so push any expectations or hype onto students.

As a world-seasoned performer and long-time teacher, I know people's best talents are not pushed out or squeezed from them in an atmosphere of pressure and expectation. People need to come to their gifts in their own time with gentle support, lots of encouragement and understanding and at their own pace.

When one of my senior pupils suggested she not take part in the concert because "it's really about the kids", I had a brainwave.....why not have a private adult-only 'concert' for my Nervous Nellies and adult students where they could work their songs freely but only with each other in a supportive private environment?

This way, people could 'practice' their repertoire a step further from just in front of me (or their bathroom mirrors!) nd still have a safe and supportive space in which to perform and gauge their efforts and confidence.

"Shine And Cheese" was born and with the exceptional support of local personality and Independent Candidate Angela Maguire, the first PPVS Adult-Only Karaoke Evening was held this month! I can safely say this was the most fun I've had all year, hosting my senior students as they 'debuted' amongst each other. It was a joyful, hilarious, wonderful and illuminating display of talent and support and we WILL be doing it again before long :)

My firm belief is that music heals, singing most of all, and that people deserve every opportunity to explore their creative musical voices. It is the privilege of PPVS to enable this in this community.

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