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  • The Chorus of Teamwork
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 9 Mar 2021
    The Chorus of Teamwork
    Anna Humberstone (Founder, Leader and Conductor) with the amazing women of Hummingsong Community Choir


    The Chorus of Teamwork



    Richard Duncan 
     

    Organisational Change Agent & Specialist in solving tough business problems that make the World a better place

     

    “I love to hear a choir. I love the humanity… to see the faces of real people devoting
    themselves to a piece of music. I like the teamwork. It makes me feel optimistic
    about the human race when I see them cooperating like that.”

    -  Sir Paul McCartney, CH and MBE, song writer, musician, record & film producer
    and most famously co-lead vocalist and bassist for the Beatles.

     

    Choirs are a marvel to listen to. Quite mesmerising. I also wonder how such a mix of people, ages, genders and skills come together to create such harmony that caresses your soul.

    There is usually a story or two behind most choirs and the one I’m sharing with you today is no exception. There is much that any leader of a team can learn from this story, what their leader does and why she has managed to literally mobilise an army of songbirds across Australia and indeed the World, by providing a platform to unleash their passion and ignite their soul.



    ​​​​​​​Hummingsong

    Hummingsong Community Choirs are a network of eleven women’s a cappella choirs with one in the wings. They have over 600 members and are mostly located in Sydney’s Northern Beaches and North Shore and Eastern suburbs, but they do have two choirs in the Netherlands and one in Melbourne. Another is planned and more are expected thanks to their incredible performance in Australia’s got Talent in 2019 where they reached the semi-finals. This appearance in living rooms across Australia propelled their profile and presence in the country and got the phones ringing.

    What makes Hummingsong particularly special is that they are not a professional group of singers. They are professionally organised mind you, but the members come from all walks of life and many have not sung since their school days or at all. They are not required to audition and whilst they are certainly expected to practice it’s not about winning any competitions, getting any awards or publicity, but rather all about the joy of singing, companionship and community. Even with Australia’s got Talent, they initially turned down the producer’s invitation to participate before realising that it would present an ideal platform to showcase what they were doing and why.



    Their Fearless Leader

    To properly appreciate why they would initially repeatedly turn down the chance to go on national television, you need only take a look at how and why this incredible community initiative came about. Their founder Anna Humberstone was invited to run a Choir of 200 singers in remote drought-stricken Mungindi in rural Queensland for the town’s inaugural music Festival. It was there and then that Anna appreciated how music and song could unite people and foster inclusivity, accessibility and acceptance. It was a way for anyone to find their voice and be part of something bigger than themselves.

    Her experience at Mungindi gave her the impetus to start her first humble community choir of 45 members in Gordon. She literally recruited members by befriending them in shopping malls and supermarkets. And in time they would return to shopping malls across the state to perform to the public.

    It was never about fame and fortune. It was a labour of love and a platform for connection. Women joined her choir in great numbers because it offered that a sorority come sisterhood where they were unilaterally welcomed and accepted for who they were. No questions and certainly no judgement.

    Think about it for a moment. Why wouldn’t they or you perhaps join? It’s not about your skill, but willingness to step forward and participate, which you can do in the comfort and protection of a group, who like you, thrive on the energy that comes from a group of people singing uplifting songs. The joy and energy of being part of something bigger than yourself that enables you to do and achieve a feeling of euphoria that rarely comes naturally to any person on their own.

    “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”

    Aristotle

    The Learning for Team Leaders?

    Strong, empathetic leadership is central to what makes a team great. Every team needs a role model and when a leader leads from the front in both their behaviour and attitude that’s when their values become the culture.
     



    Their Values

     

    I was curious to understand what made Hummingsong choirs tick and Anna shared the values below that underpin their modus operandi and forms the backbone of their culture. The one point that stood out for me was that Hummingsong choirs are all about the collective and “if it’s all about you then you won’t fit”, which makes absolute sense.

    What sits at the core of their spirit are the following values:

    ·     Equality & Humility - egos don’t survive and aren’t encouraged or sought

    ·     Inclusiveness & Acceptance – all are welcome

    ·     Creativity & Spontaneity – sparks their childlike imagination

    ·     Humanity & Empathy – this is a place where each person matters

    The Learning for Team Leaders?

    Any team and company need values to serve as a guiding and pilot light and measure behaviour and performance by. They may to some just look like words in an Annual Report or on a website, but in reality, they serve as the skeleton on which the rest of the body is built.
     



    Creating Social Change

     One of the amazing things that differentiates Hummingsong from most other choirs is that they use what they do as a platform for social and individual change.

    Firstly, you have the personal growth that comes for each and every member of the choir as a result of their experiences with other members. Many friendships and even business partnerships have blossomed as a result. Members have found jobs, received help moving house and made good and lasting friendships. Individuals have come out of their shell and others have received the moral and emotional support they needed to face the life challenges in their own worlds.

    In many ways I was reminded of the movie ‘Military Wives’ which narrates the true story of a choir whose members exclusively were wives of military personnel in the UK and has since given birth to 72 choirs with 2,000 members (www.militarywiveschoir.org).

    Secondly, the choir’s membership has had a knock-on effect to the members’ family and friends who have seen, felt and enjoyed the new energy and excitement their loved one has, sparked from being part of the choir.

    Thirdly, their performances on national TV and at shopping centres and concert halls across our great nation, have served to ignite a sense of wonder, joy and gratitude amongst the now millions of people who have stopped in awe and for a brief moment in time been transported to a world of bliss and happiness. Whether a formal performance or an unexpected flash mob, I for one noticed just how many people sat or stood motionless and transfixed during their performances, with the only movement being a growing smile and occasional tear tricking down a cheek here and there. I may have been one of those people myself.

    And finally, Hummingsong has become a catalyst for meaningful social change. They achieve something quite extra-ordinary by serving as a platform for raising both awareness and funds for women and children escaping domestic violence. Through their events for the charities that they support in recent years they have raised over $250,000 for local women’s refuges. They are about supporting the prevention of domestic violence and those affected by it. This is not only special and admirable, but central to what they are about. The women they support are going through a painful journey of transition and interestingly, for some of the members of the choir they are going through their own (albeit different) journey. So Hummingsong serves as a place for all to start their journey of the Lotus flower.

    The Learning for Team Leaders?

    This is evidence of the power of what a united team can achieve and the impact they can have on others. It shows that when a team has a common united purpose that is more meaningful than just delivering numbers, or meeting targets, they can go further…


     
    Circumventing COVID

     

    COVID-19 in 2020 was, like for many organisations, a major challenge for Hummingsong. The core of what appealed to the hundreds of women who joined was the companionship, camaraderie and collaboration with like-minded enthusiasts and the energy in the ‘room’ when the songs were sung. With the physical and social distancing needs driven by COVID, the very essence of the choir concept seemed to be in jeopardy. Fortunately, Anna and her team were able to pivot online to not only connect, practice and enjoy singing, but managed to perform as well!

    Instead of the vibrations of sound surrounding them, the magic of the community choir was channelled through earphone and computer speakers, which whilst far from ideal, still managed to ignite their spirit. Their ability to still function as a team in such a foreign manner and platform was evidence of great leadership and great commitment by all members.

    Teams across the World have faced similar challenges and online has enabled a connection and served as a surprisingly positive substitute. Where teams have thrived in the online format is when the leadership integrated a sense of meaning and purpose within the interactions and Hummingsong certainly did that in spades.

    The Learning for Team Leaders?

    This also shows how important it is for any team to be agile enough to adapt – ‘Adapt or die’. This means that leaders have to have the systems, processes and plans in place to be able to make changes quickly but assuredly.


     

    How it works – Teamwork Tips

     

    Hummingsong was created as a platform for social growth, change and connection. In effect they are a volunteer force whose gift is both song and time. It has become a community of its own, but one that is open for everyone to share and be part of. When the members sing, they don’t just sing for themselves they sing for a better world and for humanity.

    So, what are the key tenets of their great team:

    ·     Humility

    ·     Non judgemental

    ·     Courage

    ·     Leadership

    ·     Shared goals and values

    ·     Well Structured

    ·     Collective spirit

    The Learning for Team Leaders?

    Hummingsong is a phenomenon that has literally touched the heart of the World. Each member has become a role model for their families and friends and for communities throughout Australia. They have shown Corporate Australia what a team really means and looks like. Let their journey and learnings serve to light your path. I suspect that there are a few tips in what they have done that even the most experienced leaders could take. I hope that you agree.

    “The power of one, if fearless and focused, is formidable, but the power of many working together is better.”

    Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Academic, Politician and President of the Philippines (2001-2010)



    Message from Anna Humberstone

    Life is too short to not embrace it and connect with others. Singing and music is a unique unifier and glue that helps hold the World together. It can help unlock your soul and have an amazing ripple effect.

     You never know the change you can affect unless you take the risks and put yourself out of your comfort zone. We all know how helping others ultimately helps yourself. And it’s cheaper than therapy.

    Everyone can find their voice if they have a safe space and are not judged.

    So, give it a try.

    Never a truer word. Thank you Anna. Hopefully leaders across Corporate Australia will get to read this and take heed…

    If you’re interested to learn more about this amazing group of talented women or would like to join one of their community choir groups, please visit their website at:

    https://www.hummingsong.com.au/

    Published By


    Richard Duncan

    Richard Duncan

    Organisational Change Agent & Specialist in solving tough business problems that make the World a better place


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    1 comment

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    Barbara Webb

    Barbara Webb

    Project Management Consultant

    Richard, using your own words, I read your piece With "a growing smile and occasional tear tricking down [my] cheek" I am a "hummingsinger" and it has quite simply been life changing. You have described it perfectly.

    Like
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    More from Richard Duncan

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  • HUMMINGSONG RE-LAUNCHES IN MELBOURNE - 3 LOCATIONS
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Tue, 9 Mar 2021
     

    What could be better than one Hummingsong Choir in Melbourne? 3!!! 


    We are elated to share with you this fabulous news that we have 3 beautiful passionate and inspiring conductors eagerly waiting to harness their own community choirs in 3 different locations in Melbourne.

    The joys of being part of a hub of choirs are endless. While everyone loves their own tribe that they are part of it is an extra special feeling knowing that you are part of something bigger than yourselves. Having 3 Hummingsong choirs in Melbourne brings the possibilities of future collaborations both within the Melbourne choirs itself but also with our family of choirs in Sydney! 

    We launch this opportunity for Melbourners with great confidence that it will be a rewarding thing to be part of - full of great new friendships - beautiful music - community oriented & a journey that you never know where it might lead! 

    Thank you for helping spread the news far and wide. 
     
    To register for any of these 3 choirs please fill in the registration form found here: 
       
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  • HUMMINGSONG GOES EAST!
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  •  Date Posted: Fri, 10 Jan 2020
    NEWS FLASH!

    We are excited to share some wonderful news for women on the other side of the bridge ???? 

    If you would love to sing with us then please register your interest to join a choir on the Eastern side of Sydney! We are thrilled that we have lined up an awesome conductor who is excited to join our team and bring together another new singing community. 

    At this stage we are hoping to start in Term 1 - Feb 3 - Monday nights from 7:30pm - 9:30pm at a venue TBC.  

    Now is your chance to register your location request by clicking this form! We will then be in touch to let you know on the agreed location which will hopefully suit you. 

    Spread the word! We are thrilled this is happening!

    https://www.hummingsong.com.au/newchoir


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  • Newspaper article with North Shore LIving
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 10 Jan 2020
  • Hummingsong in the Semi Finals of Australia’s Got
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Mon, 2 Sep 2019
    While we didn’t proceed to the Grand Final we already felt like we were winners. It’s been an unforgettable  journey and we have shared our message far and wide resonating with hundreds of thousands of people who got to see a perfect example of the whole being definitely greater than the sum of its parts! 
    YouTube Video URL:
  • WATCH HUMMINGSONG'S AUDITION ON AUSTRALIA'S GOT TALENT
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 30 Aug 2019
    We had the most fabulous experience performing on Australia's Got Talent. It's not small task to rally 350 women on the stage but we did it and smashed it! Check out the incredible reaction from the judges and audience.  We were featured in The New Idea the day after our audition going to air. 
    YouTube Video URL:
  • HUMMINGSONG IS SPREADING ITS WINGS
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Fri, 30 Aug 2019
    We are overwhelmed with an incredible response to our Australia's Got Talent appearance. There has been countless requests for new Hummingsong Choirs to be established around the country and we are so thrilled to announce that our first Melbourne Choir is about to be born. We have the most inspirational and perfectly fitting conductor busting with excitiement to bring together a new community of women. 

    Thank you for all the requests that keep coming in. Please visit http://www.hummingsong.com.au/newchoir to add your request to our database. We are listening and responding to your wishes. It's a dream come true to branch out and have sister choirs around the country. 

    Watch this space indeed!  - xx Anna 

  • The Spring Sing - Raffle supporters
  •  
  •  Date Posted: Sat, 20 Jul 2019

    HUMMINGSONG COMMUNITY CHOIRS - THE SPRING SING FUNDRAISING RAFFLE

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