There is nothing like a good sing. All singers know this. They know that singing either solo or with others has enormous benefits. Thanks are due to Gareth Malone, whose popularising of the joys of choral singing has led to a remarkable renaissance in the UK and elsewhere of community choirs.
Having started a community choir in January, 2016 that is going from strength to strength, I have been humbled by what I have witnessed over the past year and a half. During the first few weeks, I was shocked by the numbers of people who told me they could not sing. It was the first thing many of them said as they walked through the door. What I found heartbreaking was that many of these people had been told at school, by teachers when they were six or seven years old that they couldn’t sing. They, of course, believed this and shut themselves down as singers at a tender age. How devastating. There are many things that six and seven year olds can’t do, or can’t do very well and that is because they are children and they are developing. What entitles anyone to tell a child they can’t do something, especially something like singing which is something everyone can do?
I firmly believe that everyone can sing; that everyone has a voice. It might not be a strong voice or a voice that can range very far or a voice that has great tonal variety. But a voice it is and it is everyone’s right to use it to the best of their individual ability to make music in the most accessible and democratic way of all. Our voice is our unique musical instrument. We carry it with us everywhere we go and it can be used in all sorts of exciting and unique ways to create music and to express ourselves.
What I have witnessed since the choir’s inception in January is a group of people, many of who initially lacked faith in themselves and their abilities, making a glorious sound, week in week out. They sing with passion, verve, humour and conviction and it is an honour to lead them in song. I am sure my experience is not unique and that it is a story replicated in many places where such choirs have sprung up in recent times.
Singing has so many proven benefits it should be available on prescription. It can help overcome anxiety, depression and insomnia. It can help overcome shyness and social anxiety as people get together and sing in groups, sharing in music making but not having to stand alone in the spotlight. Singing can help alleviate respiratory problems like asthma and can increase flow of oxygen to the blood vessels and brain. It is a joyful and invaluable enterprise that should only be encouraged.
As part of my practice I offer one-to-one and small group singing lessons. This singing for well being is designed to enable adults to find their voices and learn techniques to help them get the very best from their voice. My sessions are ideal for beginners and singers who wish to sing for joy rather than for public performance or exams. Click here to contact me on the website for more information.
Long may we sing and also may we get into the habit of not telling people that they can’t!