#WATWB February 2021 – Music Teacher Helps Heal Trauma of Refugees

Welcome to another post of the We Are The World Blogfest #WATWB. For this month we have fabulous co-hosts yet again.

Sylvia McGrathPeter Nena, Shilpa Garg,  Eric Lahti and  Belinda McGrath Witzenhausen.

I always seem to be late with posts these days. But here we go.

Photo credit: SBS news, accessed 28 February 2021.

A music teacher is “helping refugees to heal their trauma through song” as reported by Sandra Fulloon from SBS News.

“Bashar Hanna fled Iraq after the war and later set up a choir for others who have left their homelands. Amid the lasting mental health impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, he says he’s doing what he can to help.”

A choir member, Rula, is humming what turns out to be a tune “called Mother Earth, the lyrics describe living in peace, without war.”

The theme resonates with teacher, Bashar, and his student, Rula. Having both fled Bagdad as refugees it is consoling for them. This is because the COVID lockdowns led to these refugees reliving some of the traumas of the Gulf War.

So… Bashar “founded several art-based therapy groups including The Choir of Love, which partners with STARTTS, the NSW Service for the Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture and Trauma Survivors.”

“Music, from my point of view, is a very powerful tool; it’s a language.” BASHAR HANNA

You can read more of the SBS news report about Bashar, Rula and others here.

The We Are The World Blogfest started around this time a few years ago and has continued on most months of each year. Please check out posts by our co-hosts and others. You can also follow #WATWB on all the main social media.

I don’t need to post a poem this time around as music is a poetic medium. We are so glad it is too!


#WATWB We Are the World Blogfest Third Anniversary Post on March 2020 – Not So New Choir


Cover of Eric Whitacre’s album ‘Light & Gold’.  Picture source: youtube.

It hardly seems a month since we were last here with a We Are The World #WATWB Blogfest post.   Our co-hosts this month are…..

Sylvia McGrath,
Damyanti Biswas,
Shilpa Garg, Dan Antion,
and Belinda Witzenhausen.

They would love for you to hop on over to their pages.  Actually we would all love you to hope over to their pages and other pages on the #WATWB as well! Especially because this is our Third Anniversary!

We live in dark times.  Hiding in our bunkers, we are trying to slow the spread of the dreaded corona virus, aka COVID-19, while specialists work hard on a vaccine. It requires a team effort of being together while apart.  What a paradox!  Debates flow as chatter disputes whether it is social distance or physical distance that we are really calling for.  At #WATWB we live from physical distance but are highly connected socially.  Some of us have been swapping posts for years!

What I share this time is not really new.  It isn’t really a news story – in the news agency or network sense – but it, I think, a great story.  It is a story about creativity, about linking people from all over the world while they remain where they are. It is about bringing many voices together into a harmony of one voice.

I’m talking about Eric Whitacre and his Virtual Choir.  Whitacre was born in Reno, Nevada (USA) in 1970.  His journey with music began with the piano.

But, to hear more about the Virtual Choir, I’ll let Eric’s website fill us in.

Singers record and upload their videos from locations all over the world. Each one of the videos is then synchronised and combined into one single performance to create the Virtual Choir.

It began in 2009 as a simple experiment in social media when one young woman – a fan of Eric’s music – recorded a video of herself singing “Sleep” and shared it on YouTube.  Moved by the video, Eric responded by sending a call out to his online fans to purchase Polyphony’s recording, record themselves singing along to it, and upload the result. Eric was so impressed by the result that he decided to push the concept to the next level by recording himself conducting ‘Lux Aurumque’, asking Virtual Choir members to sing along to that and the first Virtual Choir was created. The VC has grown from 185 singers in VC1 to more than 8,000 singers, aged 4-87, from 120 countries in VC5.

You can read more about it here. What a great way to bring voices together even for people who are physically far from each other.

STOP PRESS: Susan Cain has found the Colorado Symphony Orchestra doing something very similar. Oh joy! Pun intended.

And also the Couch Choir  Cheers!

Instead of a poem this time I’ll leave you with a Bill Staines song “Place in the Choir”.  This version is from Celtic Thunder.

Follow #WATWB


Celebrating Indigenous Culture #WATWB August

Welcome to We Are the World – WATWB posts for August 2017.  Our generous co-hosts this month are

Eric Lahti,

Inderpreet Kaur Uppal,

Mary Melange,

Lynn Hallbrooks,

and myself, Simon Falk. We are part of a team and encourage you to visit as many posts carrying the ‘We Are The World’ hashtag (#WATWB) as you would like to read.

In my country of Australia our relationship with our Indigenous brothers and sisters has been mixed. There has been some horrible history. We are very sorry and hope for an ever better present and future.  This post features three stories that have come to my attention in recent weeks.  They all celebrate good news coming from exploring culture.



Anh Do  could be a WATWB feature in his own right.  Here, I would like to spotlight his portrait of Jack Charles, in the  Art Gallery of NSW as a 2017 entrant in the annual portrait competition, the Archibald Prize. Thanks to Aussie journalist, Siobhan Heanue for tweeting it for me to notice.  What is interesting here is a vivacious portrait of a talented man.  A man, who as an actor shows great promise for his people. Jack lived through being part of a stolen generation.  He was addicted to heroine.  But his acting and activism for indigenous needs shows the light he had become.

img_0439Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu featured in the news recently . His death was a source of sadness to many.  The blind, left-handed guitarist thrilled us with the sounds of his deeply soulful singing.  (OK, I’m left-handed too, and love seeing lefties play.  On with the show!).  Gurrumul’s tones and lyrics would, and still do, take us to places of depth and rest.  Dr G, as he is often known, is a fitting WATWB person for his different ability was a source of life, love and joy to many. Check out his music on youtube. Please note that those clips may contain images of deceased persons. We respect their memory.


We celebrate not only the gift of Indigenous culture in art, stage, and music.  But we also celebrate it in history.  The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Jabiru, Northern TerritoryAboriginal people have lived in Australia for a minimum of 65,000 years, a team of archaeologists has established – 18,000 years longer than had been proved previously and at least 5000 years longer than had been speculated by the most optimistic researchers.  

Those archaeology and anthropology buffs out there can find more of that story here.

It all reflects to me a colour,

It sings to me a song.

It tells of a great story,

Saying how do we belong?

How to belong together,

Sharing our creativity,

and giving of our life.

In hearing music from our harmony,

And not the din of strife.


Simon C. J. Falk 25 August 2017




Looking for some stories of hope!

Please SIGN UP for WE ARE THE WORLD BLOGFEST in the linky list below:

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  1.  Keep your post to below 500 words, as much as possible.
  2. All we ask is you link to a human news story on your blog on the last Friday of each month, one that shows love, humanity, and brotherhood. Something like this news, about a man who only fosters terminally ill children.
  3. Join us on the last Friday of each month in sharing news that warms the cockles of our heart. No story is too big or small, as long as it goes beyond religion and politics, into the core of humanity.
  4. Place the WE ARE THE WORLD Badge on your sidebar, and help us spread the word on social media. Tweets, Facebook shares, G+ shares using the #WATWB hashtag through the month most welcome. More Blogfest signups mean more friends, love and light for all of us.
  5. We’ll read and comment on each others’ posts, get to know each other better, and hopefully, make or renew some friendships with everyone who signs on as participants in the coming months.
  6. To signup, add your link in WE ARE THE WORLD Linky List here.


This is from AB’s great blog – sharing #light and goodness

humanity’s finest, bravest girl changing hearts, souls to sway stage fright miles away make aware, removing blame sapiens, slowly, raising their game work together, end hostility bow, oblige, embrace humility helping, aiding end of the earth open arms, love in the mirth tears run away, it is not your day heart’s power here to stay […]

via Effort — Perspectives on Life, the Universe and Everything

All credit to the blogsite – Perspectives on Life, the Universe and Everything Go to AB’s original post to see the poem in appropriate formatting.

Thought I Saw David Gilmour

Thought I Saw David Gilmour

I have been captivated by music longer than I have been taken by poetry.  ‘Yellow Submarine’, ‘Crocodile Rock,’ ‘Telephone Line’, ‘Tusk’ – are among my earliest, and happiest, memories.  To think I saw Pink Floyd’s guitar master in a supermarket is a peak experience.  I was mistaken.

Thought I saw David Gilmour

Thought I saw David Gilmour

In Woolies

In amongst the fruit n’ veg.


Not in them…


In the aisles

Fondling the fruit.


How I wish you were here!


I assessed the risk

Of approach.

What are the chances?

Thought I.

Were it truly he


I’d be

Comfortably numb.


And images



Shine on

Like a crazy diamond,

Or a crazy dream.



Simon C.J. Falk  22 May 2016

La famille Belier

La famille Belier

Yesterday I saw this film called La famille Belier.  It was very moving and a trailer can be viewed on youtube.  The soundtrack also has a bright vivaciousness about it too. 


La famille Belier

The sight:

Of the countryside

Of Normandy,

Of signing

Between persons,

Flailing arms

In arcs and swings,




And decoding





The ‘sex life’

Of a couple.

Visual laughs,


Come the tears.


The sound:

Of lowing cows,

Honking horns,

Of silence,

Of inaudible groans

Of exasperation,

Of piano keys

In syncopated rhythm,


The intensity

Narrated before us.


The sound:

Of a voice,

First feeble,



Its fissure to freedom,


Out and out,

And flies,

From the back

Of a room to:


To Paris,

To us.

We hear

Its sound,

And its delicate

And unravelling



The love:

Of musician for music,

Of a family,

Of friendship,

Of the melody

That flows

And circles

And gathers

Into its rhythm

The narrative

On the screen,

And plays

A meaningful resonance

On the strings

Of our hearts.




Simon C.J. Falk   15 January 2016




The Easybeats song ‘Sorry’ carries their sound and our sentiments.


Stevie Wright called it a day

We are sorry.

Every time we hear

The Easybeats play

We will be sorry.

Another has laid down the mike


We are sorry.

Another singer we did like

So we are sorry.

But greater the sorrow

If we did not give thanks

Then we’d be sorry.

If we could not play their recordings tomorrow

Then we’d be sorry.

If we forget music’s gift to our lives

We’d have reason to be sorry.

Music that harmonises our joys and our strives

And helps us

When we feel sorry.

Simon C.J. Falk 29 December 2015

Chapman Stick – Everyday Contemplative

Chapman Stick – Everyday Contemplative

Chapman Stick




Finger fretting

In a rhythm


Darts and


Up and down

And across

The stick.

Constantly moving

Like a darting

Of an insect

The multiple movements

Like a dabbling damselfly

The many, many motions

Adding to the vibrations

In a volume

And passage of

A sound.

And I,

I was



Enchanted and enticed

For more

And more

Of the


And sliding

And stretching

Of the sounds

On my inner ear


My spirits

And pulsing

With life.

Simon C.J. Falk                       27 June 2015

We truly learn something everyday.   For those of us willing to wonder, we can see beauty in the sight, sound, touch, smell of many, many things.  Today I discovered the musical wonder of the Chapman Stick. It is a truly fascinating instrument and below is another example of it being played well.

Get Michael Fix!

Get Michael Fix!

Last night our little town of Temora was treated to guitarist, Michael Fix.  He was quite the act and generously mingled with concert goers during the intermission.  The following verse is a playful appreciation of his craft.

Get Michael Fix!

You may have some blues,

That needs a swing,

A catchy classical,

Might be your thing,

You need some country,

With a western fling,

Get in Michael Fix,

For your wingding.

You like the Beatles,

You like the ‘Stones,

His take on Hank Marvin,

Will rattle your bones,

You like the Finn Brothers,

Or original tones,

Stage Michael Fix,

Get on your phones!

Call the number,

Surf the website,

He’s following on Twitter,

And in Facebook likes,

He’s there on YouTube,

With videos to sight,

Yes that Michael Fix,

For your Monday night.

He surfs along the pipeline,

His fingering of frets so smooth,

The bass line along with the rhythm,

His melody hits the groove,

He taps in his percussion,

Between his plucking bars,

And the strings centre the tension,

As the phrases pass.

He holds it all together,

Like a one man band,

And he’s like a bloody orchestra,

He has it all in hand,

He’s well strung in his talent,

With a cheerful face to boot,

Get in Michael Fix,

Your night will be a hoot.

Simon C.J. Falk   22 June 2015

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