Choir Leader Profile: Samantha Dias

How long have you been working with Songbound?

I’ve been working with Songbound since its inception in 2012. In these many years I’ve worked with many different choirs all over the city, and currently work with Shindewadi Jr. Choir.

How did you get involved with Songbound?

I was rehearsing in my college cafeteria for an upcoming performance when Prita, a fellow student, heard me. Her sister was helping Joe setup Songbound at the time. Prita asked me if I’d be interested in teaching children. I loved the idea of bringing the joy of music to children and helping them find a creative outlet for their emotions.

What difference does Songbound make to the children?

Over the years, I’ve watched how the children change through Songbound. They have become more respectful towards other cultures and have a newfound respect for their own. Interacting with musicians from across the globe has widened their horizons, they no longer limit themselves to singing Bollywood songs alone. I’ve also noticed that it helps channel the energy in them, quite a few of the hyper children tend to calm down with regular sessions.

What is their favourite Songbound song?

For my current batch of students, there are two favourites: a Polynesian song called ‘Tongo’ and a Japanese song called ‘Hotaru koi’.

What is your favourite Songbound memory?

There have been numerous wonderful instances over the years but perhaps my favourite memory was when we had a workshop with the Juilliard students and the Yale Chamber Choir and a tea party after. The children enjoyed every minute and were all smiles throughout, it was a very memorable experience. These children have very difficult lives, but that day was bright and beautiful to them. They sang, they danced and just had a blast.

Why do you believe music is important for children and young people?

Music is an integral aspect of human evolution. There’s enough science to support studies that music has a positive influence on our minds. Children and young people are the future and there is so much stress and pressure in everyday life, heavy demands to be at the top of the class or the first in a race. But in a Songbound class it’s just about doing your best for yourself and having fun together.

What music have you been listening to during the pandemic?

I’ve been listening to a lot of Jazz, Bossa Nova and Baroque along with other favourites such as Poets of the Fall ‘Alexander Theatre Sessions’. I’ve also been listening to lots of covers especially a cappella, Jared Haley is particularly good.

How have you been keeping up with your Songbound choir during the pandemic?

We have a WhatsApp group for each grade and every week I upload a new song for them to listen/learn. We have weekly chat sessions to answer any questions or just say hi.

Honestly, it’s been a real challenge as my students don’t have their own devices (mobile phone) and don’t always have access to a family member’s phone either. So whoever can make it is there, the rest usually respond as and when they can. They miss going to school and meeting their friends and having regular class. They’re just as enthusiastically optimistic as always and we hope that we’ll all be able to meet soon.