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June 2020

Lots of people on screen jpeg
The Scrub Choir sings up a storm.

Royal Melbourne staff in tune for COVID relief

Royal Melbourne Hospital staff have used music to come together during COVID-19.

Inspired by the Couch Choir and Pub Choir, the Scrub Choir included 200 RMH medical, nursing, allied health, administration, security and environmental services staff and executives.

Led by chief music therapist Emma O’Brien, the Scrub Choir went viral with Bruno Mars’ Count on Me – more than 20,000 hits in less than two weeks.

‘The Scrub Choir project aimed to be inclusive, bring joy to our staff and offer some much-needed time out,’ Dr O’Brien said.

‘We have all been under high levels of stress in the community and here at the hospital.

‘It is vital that we support each other during this crisis - and always - and provide meaningful opportunities for connection.

‘Music is the perfect connector.’

Staff submitted virtual footage of them singing, dancing and joining in – in any way they wanted.

The music therapy team created the backing track – with Audrey Studios recording services.

‘We had submissions from all over the hospital, from all our sites,’ Dr O’Brien said.

‘It has been inspiring to create the project and it has certainly unearthed some hidden talents.

‘One of my personal favourites is the Auslan version, provided by one of our nurses who has a hearing impairment.

It is so beautiful to watch.

‘Seeing just how much fun people had taking part reconfirms the power of music and its essential role in health and wellbeing for us all.

‘We chose this song as we all need to continue to count on each other.

‘We want the community to know we are here for them always and also to show our support for all people working in healthcare worldwide.’

Pub Choir is a musical act created in Brisbane in 2017 by music teacher and event director Astrid Jorgensen.

At each Pub Choir event Ms Jorgensen arranged a popular song and taught it to the audience in three-part harmony, concluding with a performance which was filmed and shared on social media.

It has become an international phenomenon but has been replaced by Couch Choir during COVID-19.

•       To see Count on Me by Scrub Choir visit