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I've been thinking.....about PCO.

Earlier today my husband asked me 'how long has this Covid19 thing been going on?'. I can hardly believe that five months have passed since PCO last met. Well, that thought set me thinking about what exactly I'd been missing all these weeks, and what is so good about PCO. Here's what I came up with. Does anyone have anything to add, or perhaps disagree with?

Here are some of the many compelling reasons to join Peterborough Community Orchestra (PCO).

Meet New People; Make new friends: Whether you’re new to the Peterborough area, or you’ve lived here all your life, you can’t help but meet new people when you join us. You are bound to like at least some of the existing members, because we share a common interest – a love for playing music. Most of us are amateurs in the truest sense of the word. We’re ‘hobby players’, most with non-music based day jobs. All ages and backgrounds are represented, from teenagers to the ‘very mature’. We all come to PCO with a common purpose, to immerse ourselves in music. You’ll not only be able to socialise with others who can relate to your love of music, whatever your favourite genre, but you might well form new and lasting friendships.

Express Yourself!: Yes, number two on the list is self explanatory. Playing any type of music is a form of self expression. PCO provides an excellent fun and creative outlet for your inner musician. OK, you are supposed to fit in with the crowd, but there’s still room for individuality, especially when things don’t quite go to plan............It’s usually the author of this list who adds their own individual slant to the group effort (in other words, it’s me making the mistakes :-) Well, I’m expressing myself, albeit unintentionally! You too are allowed to make mistakes.

Escape the Daily Grind: Playing music with a group of other people is a great way to de-stress. Work, family, finances and other responsibilities can grind you down and sap your enthusiasm for life. Playing in an orchestra takes concentration and focus. For that reason, rehearsals and concerts can be a great way to divert your attention away from everyday troubles, stress, anxiety and things you keep churning over in your mind. One member of PCO told me they make the effort to turn up at rehearsal every week because, it is ‘My ME time. MY chance to get away from everything, just for a couple of hours. I look forward to it’.

Coordination and Manual Dexterity: There’s a well known saying; ‘Use it or lose it!’ As the years pass by, there is a tendency for our physical coordination and mental agility to decline. Playing an instrument can help maintain or improve coordination, including fine motor skills. Playing an instrument in a group situation has many facets. Depending on your instrument, you need to control.........your fingers, mouth/embouchure, breathing, posture, eye movements (you’re following the written music & the conductor), hearing (listening to yourself & your fellow players). You are also exercising your mind. You are reading the notes, counting their length, keeping the rhythm, and blending your playing in with the rest of the group. Some of these things are done more consciously than others. It’s just amazing how much is going on in our brain and body, when we play music together.

Inspire Others: When a music group rehearses, each individual inspires the other members. When a community orchestra gives a performance, they are a source of inspiration for those who come to hear them. Truly amateur musicians come together and show what can be achieved by ordinary people. Audience members may be drawn from backgrounds as diverse as the orchestra’s players. Some may be inspired to pick up an instrument they haven’t played for years. Others may be spurred on to begin learning to play an instrument, whatever their age. Some might even be encouraged to join PCO! Listening to your group play might just inspire someone to give music they wouldn’t normally listen to, a chance. Your membership could well prompt friends or friends of friends, and people they know or meet to also join a music ensemble.

Improve Your CV: Employers take notice of activities you engage in during your spare time, so do universities when you apply for a course. Listing your membership of a community orchestra on your CV could make your job/course application stand out from the crowd. It shows that you are a team player, who can cooperate successfully with others. It demonstrates that you can commit to something on a regular basis, and that you are keen on self improvement.

Keep An Active and Healthy Mind: In addition to helping with physical coordination, playing music with an orchestra helps to keep your mind active. Playing with an orchestra uses many areas of the brain at the same time. The sensory and motor cortex, the auditory and visual cortex, and memory recall and laying down of new memory processes, are all used. Playing and listening to music also stimulates areas of the brain dealing with emotion. Scientific studies have shown that experiencing music can both delay and ameliorate the onset and progression of dementia. With so much going on in the brain, it’s little wonder that we feel tired by the end of each orchestral session. However, it’s a very satisfying sort of tired!! Playing music lifts your mood and makes you feel good!!

Have Fun!: Last, but definitely not least, joining a community orchestra like PCO is a great way to have fun. Unlike semi professional groups that have a formal orchestral setup, and require grade 8 minimum standard to apply for a place, community ensembles like PCO are made up of people who simply want to have fun doing something they love. At PCO, we all want to enhance both our individual and group skills, BUT, having fun and socialising with our PCO family is a big part of who we are. That’s why we will do our very best to accommodate anyone who would like to join, playing almost any instrument.

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