It's often said that music has the power to change lives and Vocal Muster are putting that theory into practice in the Southern Highlands.
The youth charity is set to launch their Song Circle project which will culminate in two concerts as well as a Spotify playlist of original songs composed and performed by local youth.
Founded by Richard Lane to help encourage and support vocal talent in high schools, Vocal Muster have been a welcome presence in the Highlands for the past four years
Whilst originally set to focus on the Black Summer bushfires, Song Circle will also incorporate the struggles faced by young people during the pandemic.
Lane said the theme of belonging would be front and centre of the creative process.
"It was originally about the kids writing about how they felt about the bushfires but in light of everything that's happened with COVID and lockdown, we've changed it to belonging and belonging to your community," Lane explained.
"The kids will work the songs up and have them ready by January to do a concert in Penrose and Balmoral, just so those communities and the kids know that they belong."
The charity will hold several virtual songwriting workshops at the end of September, giving participants a chance to collaborate and work on songs before the recording session in January.
They'll be joined by several music industry identities such as Mike Shaw, Peter Campbell and John Martin to help with the creative process.
Lane said whilst the chance to perform was extremely exciting, encouraging collaboration and connection with others was the true aim after an isolating 18 months.
"What we're going to do as a golden reward for them is put the recorded songs up as the 'Muster Lounge Room Session' on Spotify," he told the Southern Highland News.
"We're going to have about 20 tracks up there with varying degrees of brilliance through to absolute genius.
"The most important thing is the connection so they have peers, a cohort. My young fella has really struggled through this and there have been a huge number of kids who have struggled with online learning, Zoom fatigue and not having their friends around.
"That's why these 'Lounge Room Sessions' are really important because I promised them, work hard on these songs and we'll put it up on Spotify. They can say to their friends, 'have a listen to what I've done.'
"For me, the main thing is for young people to know they belong and that they can collaborate. Engagement is really important, not just for adults but the young people in our community."
Song Circle is possible because of the Bushfire Recovery Fund and will be holding virtual workshop daily from 11am to 1pm on September 27-30.
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