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Time To Shine participants and Michael at Seaview.

Time To Shine participants and Michael Grant at Seaview.

Time To Shine

On Friday 23 September a group of service users from Seaview, a local centre supporting marginalised individuals within the community, will be at the Masonic Hall in St Leonards singing their hearts out with a live band of West End musicians, in a show that promises to be a truly inspiring experience. None of them have taken on such a challenge before, but with the help of The Time to Shine Project, they intend to face their fears and give their audience a night to remember! Zelly Restorick speaks to Alison Cooper to find out more.

The Time To Shine Project is a charity created by local resident, singer and musician, Alison Cooper and developed in collaboration with Michael Grant, a musical director, arranger, voice and performance coach. Both believe passionately in the confidence-instilling and body-mind-enhancing benefits of music and singing. And through The Time To Shine Project, they offer people the chance to explore their musical abilities in a friendly and supportive environment and perform to a live audience as a Grand Finale of the experience.

Maggie Hawthorn from Seaview says: “What wonderful, inspirational and dedicated individuals you are. It has been one of the best projects I have had the pleasure of being on the fringes of”.

Members of The Time To Shine Project singing in St Leonards

Members of The Time To Shine Project singing in St Leonards

ZR: How did the idea for Time To Shine evolve?

AC: I had originally got involved in a previous incarnation of this project in London over 10 years ago. I saw an ad in the school about joining in – and I never looked back. I helped on about four projects and then, when I moved back to Hastings, I mustered some volunteer musicians to help me create our South Coast version at The Roomz in St Leonards. The finale night was so moving; everyone invited their friends, family and the public to witness their courage and achievements. It was truly a wonderful night. What I love about the concept is that it’s about raising people’s self-confidence and it’s about creating a safe place to do the best you can and not worry about making ‘mistakes’.

ZR: How does Michael fit in?

AC: I was so keen to continue with Time to Shine and spent some years mulling over various project ideas and searching in vain for the perfect partner. Last year I suddenly realised who that person was! It was like a “eureka” moment whilst I was at my choir, Hastings Voice Squad one Tuesday evening. Michael Grant – our one in a million, multi-talented choir leader! Michael is the perfect mix of being highly musically skilled and also great with people; he is so natural, likeable and brilliant at bringing out the most in people. He also has so much energy and works incredibly hard and with such passion.

My background has been in bands, music projects, dance and physical theatre, but I also have had a lot of experience in counselling, mediation and I currently work locally as a Substance Misuse and Alcohol Recovery Support worker. A useful mix when working with the clients we are inspired to work with.

This is our first project so we are both currently discovering how we work together and so far we both think we are a superb team! Michael is the musical director and I am the project manager; our individual leanings seem to fit really well into these roles.

“The benefits of music as therapy are well documented, but many such programmes fall short of delivering a final performance, which we believe is not only the ultimate hurdle but also the ultimate achievement. We want our performers to feel safe, confident and secure and our concerts to be celebratory and inspiring. With the combined skills of our instructors we can deliver a unique opportunity for participants to make a dream come true.” www.timetoshineproject.org

ZR: Who are you working with on your second Time To Shine?

AC: We contacted the Seaview Centre in St. Leonards to see if they were interested in working with us to support their clients in taking part. The Seaview Project has been going for years and they do an incredibly vital job assisting homeless and vulnerable people in general. It’s a social centre, with cheap wholesome food, a gym, games, computers, as well as help with mental & physical health, training and educational aspects of life. They are very keen on the project, very supportive and are lovely to work with.

The Seaview Project has their own choir already so that gave us a bit of a jump start in finding participants; so far we have about 13 in the choir and nine doing solos! It’s very exciting and they are being incredibly focused and brave.

ZR: What do you see as the outcomes and aims of the project?

AC: The aim of the Time to Shine Project is to spread the joy and confidence-building benefits of singing. There are so many positive aspects involved in learning, singing, being in a group and completing a very challenging task – and also many life-skills are developed through this kind of project, like learning to trust others.

Time To Shine participants and Michael at rehearsals at Seaview

Rehearsal for Time To Shine participants at Seaview

A lot of people have a fear of singing, and it’s even harder for people who have had very difficult or traumatic experiences in their lives to open up. Participants have to trust that they won’t be ridiculed by others, trust others to support them and trust others to be there – as every cog in the machine is needed.

And then there are other transferable skills like being on time, committing to a project, actualising a vision and seeing it through – even when you’re terrified! We hope that one of the biggest outcomes for them is that even when something comes along in life and it seems so big and scary, they can deal with that fear, participate in the best way they can and come out the other side being proud that they worked hard, did their best and they survived. Hopefully, the next scary thing that comes along won’t look so daunting.

ZR: What are your plans for Time To Shine in the next year or so?

AC: We offer various music projects to groups, so if desired by Seaview, we could continue with a regular choir session that occasionally performs at a local jam night, for example, or with other established choirs.

This is the pilot project and at the end of it we will have some good evidence of it’s worth so with that we hope to receive larger funding to be able to work with more charities and groups and thus helping to spread the great physical, emotional and community health benefits of singing.

Please do join The Time To Shine team to witness the Seaview Project’s amazing Finale night on Friday 23 September 2016 : Doors open at 7pm : Masonic Hall, East Ascent, St. Leonards on Sea, TN38 0DR.

To find out more, check out The Time To Shine Project website or call 07486 859026 or check out our Facebook page!

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Posted 13:17 Thursday, Sep 8, 2016 In: Music & Sound

1 Comment

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  1. Alison Cooper

    Thanks Zelly! x

    Comment by Alison Cooper — Wednesday, Sep 14, 2016 @ 20:45

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