It’s never too late; if you believe something should be different, try to change it. Listen to hear how Judith Curphey went from retirement to founding and training one of Australia’s most renowned choirs.
This week on Anecdotally Speaking, Shawn shares the story behind the Australian Girls Choir, which famously featured in QANTAS’ I Still Call Australia Home campaign. Judith Curphey founded the choir after retiring from her career as a music teacher, tiring of the common belief of the time that boys were better singers than girls.
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Tags: beliefs, bias, change, growth, making a difference
This story starts at 01:50
In 1984 and at 55 years old, Judith Curphey retired from her career as a music teacher. She’d worked as a Music Director across girls’ schools in Melbourne and had worked in London too.
But she was bothered by the common belief of the time that boys were better singers than girls. The famous choirs of the day were all boys’ choirs.
So she decided to do what she could to change it and started a company that trained girls to sing in choirs—the Australian Girls Choir.
Judith enlisted her family to help. Her mum worked in administration for the company, and her sister worked in logistics, leaving Judith tutoring. They held four classes in Burwood, Melbourne, and had 150 students.
Judith had the instinct that their choir training would need to be rigorous to be respected. So she implemented a uniform and strict rules for her students, governing how they dressed and behaved.
But she also knew that children learned best and persisted when they had fun, so she filled their classes with games.
Under her leadership, the Australian Girls Choir grew and grew. The company is now represented in each Australian capital city and trains some 7,000 girls.
Judith is 94 and is still active in the company. In 2004, she received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for services to music, particularly through the Australian Girls Choir.
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