We might think ‘to the left, to the left’ – when really, tapping into the right side of the brain may be the key to unlocking its potential. Jessica-Anne Lyons speaks to soprano singer and social entrepreneur Tania de Jong about using song to unleash your creativity.
Creativity in its simplest form is “the use of the imagination or original ideas to create something”, but to Tania de Jong it is much more than that.
“Most of our lives are spent thinking in a box, being in a box and behaving in a certain way and creativity is where we break out of the box and start unleashing more of our own potential,” says Tania.
“A lot of people believe they’re not creative and I think the very first thing is to change that perception.”
As a social entrepreneur and international keynote speaker on leadership, creativity and innovation, Tania believes that creativity is the strategic tool of the 21st century
The key, she says, is to tap into the right hemisphere of the brain, which is responsible for controlling a person’s intuition, imagination and creative conscience.
To do so, activities such as swimming in the ocean, going into nature, spending time with loved ones and singing in particular, have been proven to connect the brain’s neurotransmitters in new ways and activate the right side of the brain.
As a soprano singer herself with her opera and musical theatre group Pot-Pourri, singing not only changed Tania’s life, but has also provided her with the means to set up the charity Creativity Australia, which offers the diversity and community wellbeing program choir, With One Voice.
Held in more than 10 locations across Melbourne, With One Voice brings together a diverse range of people of all age groups and backgrounds to sing in choir workshops to boost their creativity and feel part of a community.
“Usually we tend to be around people who think like us, dress like us and have the same colour skin as us, which basically makes us feel safe,” says Tania.
“When you do go outside your comfort zone, that’s when your creative and innovative levels start to spark,” she says.
Each week, these individuals come together to sing in what Tania calls “positive human collisions” and as part of the program they also share what they wish for in life.
For example, Tania says members’ wishes have ranged from wanting to improve their English and make new friends, to finding a job.
Thanks to the wide range of people involved in these groups, by creating a creativity network many members are given opportunities they may not have received elsewhere, such as the means to make these wishes come true.
A With One Voice performance of “Lean On Me” at Melbourne Town Hall this year.
“We’ve helped a number of international students in particular connect to jobs where before they might have been discriminated against because they have an accent or a foreign sounding name,” says Tania.
“It’s really important to help network people because it’s hard to get jobs on paper and you’re going to have a much better chance of getting a job by forming a network,” she says.
“We literally have Buddhists singing next to Jews singing next to Catholics and that’s what the world’s about, we’re a global village,” she says.
If you would like to learn more about how to get involved in Creativity Australia and the With One Voice program, visit their website.
You can hear Tania speak about how the neuroscience and joy of singing, combined with the power of diversity improves wellbeing, skills, creativity and communities at the upcoming event Seeing The Unseen, as part of TEDxMelbourne on December 3. Tickets are $60 concession ($95 full fare) and can be booked online.