Outreach Concerts by Edmonton Downtown Men’s Choir

The Cause

In October 2012, in partnership with the Edmonton Public Library, Eva Bostrand started a choir for men who access the services of the downtown library (e.g. social services, support, comfort, and warmth). After each rehearsal the men are given a warm meal.

These are men who are in transition:  they are dealing with social, medical or economic challenges in their lives such as finding a job or a stable place to live.

Studies show there are many benefits to belonging to a choir including:

Physical benefits:  Studies have shown that singing can strengthen the immune system and release tension. Emotional health benefits:  Researchers have documented the impact of singing on the individual’s sense of well-being and mood. It can act as an anti-depressant and provide an opportunity for self expression. Social benefits:  Singing in a group setting encourages participants to learn to take direction, trust others, cooperate, and work together to achieve a group goal (such as putting on a concert).

By singing in the Choir, participants tell us they are finding respite from the stress in their lives, developing their social networks, feeling a sense of belonging and a more positive outlook on life. Many of these men just need a bit of assistance to get their lives back on track and the Edmonton Downtown Men’s Choir is one of the tools that helps them.

Eva started the choir at the downtown library because it is a gathering place for underprivileged people.  We would now like to expand the range of the choir so it can reach out to men in other parts of the city who face similar challenges.  We would like to receive funding so the downtown men’s choir can sing at other libraries in Edmonton and area.  We propose holding six concerts during the project.

Who Will it Benefit?

Holding concerts of the Edmonton Downtown Men’s Choir at other libraries will benefit:

Other men in transition – who will become aware of the opportunity to join the choir and experience the benefits of participating in music;

Other library patrons – who will enjoy hearing the choir sing;

The libraries – who can use the performances to attract patrons and reinforce awareness of the changing role libraries play in contributing to community cohesion.  In addition to being a repository of information, libraries play a vital role as a focal point for the community - a gathering place, a safe place for people (particularly those at risk) to gather the information and supports they need, and a place for people to meet new people and build connections with others.

The men in the choir – who will achieve the satisfaction of working towards a goal (preparing for a concert) and the validation of the applause of the audience.  Such an experience helps to build self esteem and self efficacy – a feeling of accomplishment and confidence.

The community – To date 31 men have participated in the choir, although the number of participants varies widely from week to week. Currently, 5 men sing regularly with the choir.  If more men in transition can be assisted through choir to get their lives back on track and become contributing members, the community will benefit.