Real Stories

Real Stories About Real People at The School of Hard Knocks

It is well documented now through scientific research that music brings about extraordinary physical and psychological changes in our body and brain, not to mention the spiritual, social and emotional benefits that are experienced with participation in group arts and cultural activities. We’d like to share with you some real stories from real people who’ve participated in the School of Hard Knocks.

Opera Australia’s ‘Community Choir’ Project

Some of our participants have been kind enough to share their thoughts after performing in one of our many partner projects, Opera Australia’s ‘Community Choir’ project in November 2013, and have described how it empowered them in all aspects of their lives. ’It was very empowering – it feels like I’ve got a piece of myself back.’

‘I’m a major stroke survivor and to be able to sing with the choir and also sing with an orchestra - that’s an achievement by itself.’

‘I’ve had that many failures in life. Since the choir, I’ve actually come out of myself. And I’m turning into a lot more positive (person) and capable of doing things too’

‘We feel like we could do just about anything. We look forward to any future projects.’

This unique opportunity to perform with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia soloists at Myer Music Bowl for the Melbourne Ring Cycle Festival is one of many projects that we have delivered and produced. It gave the School of Hard Knocks participants an extraordinary insight into the musical and vocal demands of Opera, and a chance to develop new musical skills that also had a transformative effect on their personal lives.

‘It’s really given me more confidence in myself that I didn’t have before. It’s helped me realise that if you really put yourself forward you can do anything that you put yourself up for.’

School of Hard Knocks – Queensland

At the Eliza Street residential program within Richmond Fellowship, we had a young gentleman that loved to sing and was involved in the RFQ choir. Jonathon and Susan G from the Hard Knocks Choir visited RFQ (Richmond Fellowship Queensland) choir during a rehearsal at Jagera Hall last year and offered him this fantastic opportunity to be a part of the Hard Knocks Choir.

At first, our client was very excited as he felt charged by the fantastic energy Jonathon gave off during our warm up, however afterwards he was concerned by a feeling of pressure in regards to attending the opening day of this new choir. He was unsure with his other commitments and travel that he would have the time and energy to help launch this fantastic new program.

We worked alongside of him to help him overcome his feelings to withdraw from the Hard Knocks Choir and made Susan G aware of his uncertainty in attending. Susan G was very flexible with his apprehensions and invited him to attend when he felt ready. This flexibility helped him regain his motivation to attend the opening day and since then, he has been attending regularly and performing with great enthusiasm.

The openness and inclusivity of the choir has made this gentleman feel at home, he is meeting new people, establishing wonderful friendships with other choir members, keeping active and he is very proud to be a part of two choirs, RFQ’s and The Hard Knocks Choir. This inclusion has enhanced his self-esteem and belongings which is a perfect social prescription for wellbeing.

In summary, he is looking forward to many other performances and rehearsals. He loves the space at Common Ground and has been talking with Susan G about a possible solo song he can perform that is dedicated to his ailing father and his mother who has passed away from cancer in the recent past. He is a wonderful culture bearer of the program and shares his stories of performing with his friends and family.