Sounds of success for BrainWaves

BrainWaves choir members Belinda Keene, Ken Johnston and his wife Marcia Johnston.
BrainWaves choir members Belinda Keene, Ken Johnston and his wife Marcia Johnston.

ANGELIC voices and big smiles came together last week with the BrainWaves choir's debut performance.

More than 20 stroke survivors and their carers showcased 12 weeks of dedicated hard work and commitment to relearning skills that many of us take for granted.

From Christmas carols to old-classics and even the odd solo, the Royal Newcastle Centre lecture theatre came alive with sound.

They were led by University of Newcastle student Bernadette Matthias, who is working with the choir in her PhD research.

She is investigating the link between music and singing on stroke survivors' health.

Ms Matthias said she was impressed by what she had seen so far, as many of the survivors had improved their speech, reading and memory skills in the time frame.

"When we started, many could not read and had great difficulty with speech," she said.

"But now if all they can do is hum in tune or sing what they remember, it is just great.

"They all tell me they hang out for the choir each week, which is good to hear."

Stroke survivor Marcia Johnston joined the choir with her husband and carer Ken.

For the couple, the choir brings pure joy each week.

"Being here and able to sing in tune is just wonderful," Mrs Johnston said.

"It has allowed me to be able to communicate again."

The choir runs in collaboration with the John Hunter Hospital's community stroke team.