Thursday, October 27, 2011

Oh Snap!

For my final post here are some photos of the choir and a few of our members

Happy singing everyone (even if its just in the shower)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

The Windup

Hamilton Blogs I looked at:
Victoria. A Blog

Otago Blogs I looked at:
Jasmine. M Blog
Hannah. S Blog

Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press. 

Benson, S. G., & Dundis, S. P. (2003). Understanding and motivating health care employees: integrating Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, training and technology. Journal of Nursing Management, 11(1), 315-320. 
Caulton, R. & Dickson, R. (2007). What’s going on? Finding an explanation for what we do.  In J. Creek & A. Lawson-Porter (Eds.),Contemporary issues in occupational therapy (pp. 87-114).  Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
Christiansen, C. H., & Townsend, E. A. (2004). Introduction to occupation; the art and science of living (2 ed.). New Jersey, United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.
Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools for practice in occupational therapy: A structured approach to core skills and processes. London: Churchill Livingstone.
Hanks, P. (Ed.). (1988). The collins concise dictionaryof the english language. Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.


The Collins Dictionary defines ambiance as "the atmosphere of a place" (Hanks, 1988, p. 32)
In choir there are a number of different types of songs.  Each  different song creates different emotions and feelings or 'atmospheres' as a result of different tempo, pitch, style and instruments involved. These factors along with the physical movements of the choir create the emotion or ambient feeling for all those involved. One song we sing is called Bay-ye-te. This song begins with just one member of our choir singing, with no instruments.  The rest of the choir joins in harmonizing with her after her first repetition, the song then builds in force through the powerful voice and actions of the choir. The feeling this song creates is very special, it alters the atmosphere in any venue or situation. 

The choir performed earlier this year at New Zealand's international indigenous conference. I was standing in the front row with the rest of the sopranos, waiting for the conductors signal.  There were people from all over the world gathered under one tent.  When the soloist began singing, you could feel the change in the room.  We had sung this song many times before but because of the people who were here and what the choir represented, this time it felt different.  We were a choir made up of people also from many different cultures and nations and we were singing a song from a different nation to all of us. I’m proud to be apart of the choir, I feel a part of something bigger and am sad because I remember that the conductor, the soloist and my friend who is standing next to me are all leaving choir.  I think this is another reason this song is so special as it is the last time we will all sing together.  


Hanks, P. (Ed.). (1988). The collins concise dictionary of the english language. Glasgow: William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Lets be Practical

Practical requirements are stated in Hagedorn as "a list of all the tools, machines, objects, furniture and materials needed for the activity.  One also needs to list physical resources such as water, light and source of power." (2000, pg. 205)

There are a number of practical considerations for our choir. Some of them are the following:
     -As there are a large number of us we need a large space to practice
     -As we practice at night we need somewhere with lighting
     -As we practice all year round we need somewhere protected from the winter weather
     -As there are older members we need somewhere that affords us the opportunity to sit down  throughout the night
     -As we have soloists, it is helpful that we have microphones so that we can hear them above the sound of the choir while we practice.
     -As we are a Hamilton based choir it would be an easier location for most to reach if where we practice is near the centre of Hamilton.

All of these considerations are met by the church we practice in.  Grace Way Church is kind enough to allow us to practice in their building free of charge.  the building is warm, dry and well lit. The main room has plenty of space for our whole choir to fit.  This is the room where Grace Way holds there service every Sunday morning.  This room has a full sound system  which includes a switchboard, speakers, microphones and an over-head projector which we use to display our words.  One of the choir member’s husbands knows how to operate this set up and joins us each week to do so.  

Hagedorn, R. (2000). Tools for practice in occupational therapy: A structured approach to core skills and processes. London: Churchill Livingstone. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

The other Affordances

Burden Vs Joy
Burden           -Waiting for other people to learn their parts
                        -Obligation to attend every week
Joy                  -Getting the sound/song right
                        -Remembering the words
                        -Fellowship with the other choir members

Good Vs Bad
Good              -Community
                        -Social interaction
                        -Chance to sing for other people
Bad                 -Singing a song I don’t like
                        -Not remembering the words
                        -Being late to practice

By my conformity to the required uniform I contribute to making the overall appearance of the choir aesthetically pleasing.  When we all wear the same uniform we are presenting the choir as one, as a unit of people working together to achieve a common goal.  One choir, one song. 

Choir has a very high spiritual element for me, our choir is more than just about singing songs.  The choir I am a part of is a Gospel choir, so all our songs have a Christian base and are worship songs.  All so, at choir we pray together every week.

Linking with history
As I have been in the choir for two years now, when we will bring back songs that were sung when I first joined it brings back memories of when we originally sung that song.  I remember the soloist who originally sung that song.  I remember where I first performed it and I remember members who were in the choir then who have now left.  I remember how I felt being new in the choir and it shows me how far I’ve come since then. 

Most weeks we begin choir by doing a warm up for a bodies, followed by a vocal warm up.  When singing we either stand facing the conductor or sit up tall, also facing the conductor. During our songs we alternate between standing still and moving side to side

(this is my tribute to “The house that Jack built”)

This is the church that the choir is in.

This is the piano
That played in the church that choir is in.

This is the pianist
That sat at the piano
That played in the church that choir is in.

This is the song
That was played by the pianist
That sat at the piano
That played in the church that choir is in.

This is that band
That joined in the song
That was played by the pianist
That sat at the piano
That played in the church that choir is in.

Affordances - Lets Communicate

"Perceptual psychologist J.J Gibson coined the term affordance to refer to the particular arrangement of objects in the environment and to estimate the actions allowed by an object.... Affordances do not have to be visible. known or even desirable to affect behaviour." (Christiansem & Townsend, 2004, p. 255)
In Participation in Occupation ll, we have been looking at seven different area of affordance.
These areas are -Communication
                             -Links with movement and history

In this post, I am going to focus on communication as it is a very large area of affordance and in my next post, I will touch on the other six areas.

There are many different types of relationships and because of this, many different ways of communication.  Within the choir, I have different types of communication with people depending on the situation and person. 

The communication from the choirmaster is predominantly one-way, from her to me (and the rest of the choir, the soloist, and the band).  She directs everyone, it is her role to bring all the parts together and make us work as one.  As we are learning a new song, her communication varies between verbal and non-verbal, however during a performance her communication is non-verbal.  She will use a selection of gestures, to communicate how the performance is to be carried out. 

Another type of communication is between other choir members and me. Before and after practice and during breaks I’ll will talk with many different members, catching up on how there weeks have been and what’s going on with them.  During practice, there is limited verbal communication as it would detract from the practice and distract other members.  As Anna-Maree and I both know the alphabet in New Zealand sign language, we will often sign to each as other sections are learning there parts.  This is a slow, but effective way of communicating. 

When we perform, there is one sided communication between the audience and me.  Through the songs I sing with the choir, we tell a story about our faith and our God to those listening.

Cont. on next blog

Christiansen, C. H., & Townsend, E. A. (2004). Introduction to occupation; the art and science of living (2 ed.). New Jersey, United States of America: Pearson Education, Inc.

Ergonomics - Making it work

Ergonomics is described by Caulton and Dickson (2007) as a process that looks to “constantly make slight invisible adjustments to an activity to adapt to the needs of those taking part and ensure that it continues to work for its intended purpose”(p.unknown). This basically means that ergonomics are the things that 'make it work', the small things that ensure the ability to be able to begin and continue with an activity are modified and maintained.

The choir is  divided into four vocally associated groups both in rehearsal and performance. These teams must work together logistically to learn their different parts of the same songs to achieve the desired outcome. The first team is the sopranos, who are situated in the front row and sing the highest vocal notes. Second in position and voice requirements are the altos, they are situated in the second row and often sing the melody. Behind them are the tenors who stand in the back row, these vocalists sing the lower mid range notes. Finally the bass who stand in the back row with the tenors and sing the lowest vocal chords. By standing in these groups singers are able to hear the other members in their sections which aids them in singing the right part on-que and in-tune. During the once a week practice, the different groups often practice in different rooms as to focus wholly on their required pieces. Each of the practice rooms are equipped with all the tools and items we require to effectively practice. We also have matching uniforms for performances. All the points mentioned in this blog such as; where we stand, how we practice, what parts are sung, along with how we dress are all ergonomic concerns. 

Caulton, R. & Dickson, R.  (2007).  What’s going on? Finding an explanation for what we do.  In J. Creek & A. Lawson-Porter (Eds.),Contemporary issues in occupational therapy (pp. 87-114).  Chichester: John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

Work Vrs Labour

(This post is not considered as apart of my six posts and therefore is not for marking, just my own knowledge/ learning) 
What is the difference between work and labour? "Work is the activity which corresponds to the unnaturalness of human existence" (Arendt, 1958, p.7) whilst "Labour is the activity which corresponds to the biological process of the human body" (Arendt, 1958, p.7). 
I am a member of the Hamilton Gospel Choir. This commitment falls under Ardent's 1958 definition of an act of 'work' as my involvement a personal choice, does not fulfill the physiological needs defined by Maslow's Hierarchy and is not a normal or required part of the natural biological process (Benson,& Dundis, 2003; Arendt, 1958). In joining this group I become a performer, a worshiper of God, a soprano and a singer. As a member of this choir I am a part of a new family and community that I previously was not. Although this cannot be defined as labour because there is no real physical need for me to belong to  this choir, I feel it joins me to a community that helps me in taking time out and relaxing from my other commitments such as study (Arendt, 1958). Personally this is an important part of keeping a healthy balance in my life.  If I did not do this activity I would no longer feel a part of the choir community, I would lose my connections and links with the choir family.  Spiritually I would lose an opportunity to worship and connect with God; which is important to me. I would also lose another piece of my weekly choir tradition; having dinner with Anna-Maree prior to choir every week.  However, if I were not involved with choir, I would have more time to do my studies and complete the other responsibilities that I have. 

Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: Chicago University Press. 

Benson, S. G., & Dundis, S. P. (2003). Understanding and motivating health care  employees: integrating Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, training and technology. Journal of Nursing Management, 11(1), 315-320. 

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sing a Song

This Semester We're restarting our blogs with Participation in Occupation ll.  We have all picked a occupation that we are already doing and then break it into smaller parts.  I have chosen to focus on my participation in the Hamilton Community Gospel Choir.  I will be looking at it through ergonomics, affordances, ambiance and practical considerations. 

Key Words
Singing in Gospel Choir
Thinking OT

Every Tuesday


Range of cultures


Worship or Praise


·        I sing with the Hamilton community gospel choir

·        We meet at graceway church at 7pm every Tuesday

·        There are around 30-50 people in the choir, depending on the evening

·        I am currently the youngest member of the choir at 19yrs and the oldest would be around 70yrs

·        We come from a wide range of cultures

·        I sit or stand in the front row with the other sopranos

·        We sing worship or praise songs to and about God

·        We are a family who support each other through prayer, laughter, food, hugs and many other ways

·         I chose to go to choir because singing is something that I enjoy, and worship is something I highly value
Something someone who likes to sing could participate in

Potentially too late for some

Minimal age restrictions

No cultural restrictions

Could be spiritual barriers to participation

Good support network

Mindfulness in choir: 

As I sing as part of the choir I realise with this song I no longer have to think about to words I'm singing or the notes for my part.  This is a song that as a choir we have sung many times before and has now become automatic.  Not having to think about the notes or the words leaves my mind free to focus on other things.  I think about how I'm standing, do I have a good enough stance to be able to get the best sound? No probably not, I'll widen my stance just slightly, a subtle difference that others may not notice but I can feel the difference it makes. How about my breathing? Am I breathing with my chest or diaphragm? Diaphragm, good, another thing that is becoming automatic and requires less and less thought.