Singing can be a powerful tool for expression, communication, and emotional release. For me personally, singing has provided an outlet for emotional expression over the years. Singing is my way to express emotions that I find it difficult to put it in words, sadness, joy or even anger for that matter. By singing about my feelings, I have been able to release pent-up emotions and feel more grounded. I am not a professional singer, rather a bathroom singer, but I have realised that singing can be a joyful and uplifting experience and it brings me happiness and positivity. Singing is said to be a creative activity that allows individuals to explore their own unique voice and style, and it is also said to be an empowering activity giving individuals a sense of confidence and control.
In this issue I had the privilege to be connected with Helen Tooth and thus explored the benefits of singing in a group and how you can join in her group which is in our local community.
BENEFITS OF SINGING
Singing has been shown to have several benefits for both physical and mental wellbeing. Here are some of the ways in which singing can improve your overall health;
- Reduces stress and anxiety : did you know that singing releases endorphins which are chemicals in the brain that promote the feelings of happiness and relaxation, just like laughter does, which is why I always incorporate some music in my laughter yoga workshops.
- Boosts immune system : singing can increase the production of immunoglobulin A, which is an antibody that helps fight infection. This can help boost your immune system and reduce the risk of getting sick.
- Improves breathing : singing requires deep breathing and good posture which can improve lung capacity and overall respiratory health. This can be particularly beneficial for people with asthma or other breathing difficulties.
- Enhances social connection : Singing in a group can create a sense of community and belonging. This can be particularly beneficial for people who may feel isolated and lonely.
- Improves mood : Singing can help improve mood and decrease symptoms of depression, this is because singing releases endorphins which are also known as the ‘feel good ‘hormones .
- Boosts cognitive function : Singing requires the use of multiple parts of the brain, including memory, language and motor skills, thus singing can improve your cognitive function and memory.
- Enhances confidence : Singing can be a way to build self confidence and overcome fears of public speaking or performance. By practising singing and performing in front of others, you may become more comfortable in social situations.
Karen Carpenter an American singer and drummer once said,
“Whenever I’d feel happy or sad, I’d find myself singing and suddenly I wasn’t mad anymore, I was joyful. Singing in a choir is an incredibly bonding, spiritual experience. You are all breathing together, you are all phrasing together, you are all feeling the same thing at the same moment in time.”
I absolutely love this quote, as it highlights and emphasises how singing in a group can create a sense of unity and shared experience which can be a powerful way to enhance well being and connect with others. Singing in a group definitely requires teamwork and cooperation as everyone must work together to create a harmonious sound, which promotes a sense of collaboration and encourages you to work together towards a common goal.
JOIN A SINGING GROUP
Having explored all the benefits of singing in a group, it’s important to be aware that there are various types of groups that you can possibly be a part of, including choirs, acapella groups, vocal ensembles and many more. Singing groups can be found in schools, churches, community centres and online too. Joining a singing group can be a great way to meet new people, gives you a chance to explore different genres of music and develop a new hobby. Overall I would say singing in a group can be a wonderful and enriching experience for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
MUSIC FOR EVERYONE ‘OPEN VOICES’ WITH HELEN TOOTH – THE JOYFUL JUKEBOX
Having explored all the benefits of singing in a group and if you are now convinced of joining one, my suggestion would be to pop in at Middle Street Resource Centre in Beeston, every Tuesday morning from 10.30 am to 12.30am. Each week they sing a different selection of well-known songs, the popular choices being Amarillo, Edelweiss, No Matter What and Yellow Submarine. Helen tells me people can also request their favourites, sing solo or in small groups if they wish. The best part is that there is no need to book, they can just turn up on the day! No experience or musical ability is needed, all you do need is a sense of enthusiasm and fun. Everyone is welcome and sessions are fully inclusive and dementia friendly, you even get a cup of tea and a biscuit at half time!
So, when did it all start? Helen tells me “I have been leading these sing alongs with Cliff McCardle since September 2022, but Music for Everyone, ‘Beeston Open Voices’ began back in April 2018. Helen has been leading interactive singalongs for over 30 years in community groups, care homes and schools. She loves to see the positive difference it can make to those who attend.
Attendance at the sessions are is free but she suggests a donation of £2 for the charity Music for Everyone.
Middle Street Resource Centre is celebrating 50 years of supporting the community with mental health services and activities like Helen’s.
“Thank you so much, we love coming here, it’s our favourite part of the week. “
“It lifts my spirits every time I come.”
“We look forward to singing at Open Voices and everyone leaves here with a smile on their face.”
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
Remember that singing in a group should be fun! Enjoy the experience, the joy and don’t be afraid to let loose and have a good time. “There is something incredibly powerful about singing in a group. It’s about expressing yourself and hearing the voices of others around you .It’s about connection and community and it’s one of the most joyful experiences you can have”- Gareth Malone.