Singing - the new walking?
You've nothing to lose except your inhibitions!
The brain is a fascinating organism, and capable of so much more as scientists are discovering all the time. I expect you heard the story recently of a girl who suddenly couldn’t speak due to hemiplegic migraine but could sing perfectly well - words and tune. How amazing is that?! And singing is being used to help in Dementia therapy and is known to be good for our mental health.
It got me thinking that in programmes about diet and exercise, walking is always recommended and comes out top to help with many medical conditions or as part of the means to help prevent conditions. It’s also cheap to do - you just need some shoes (or not even that if you do barefoot walking!). You can do it anywhere - in towns and cities, in the countryside, in your lunch break, on your way to work, whilst you are on holiday, when you are retired, when you have just learned to walk, on your own, with friends, and so on.
And so it is with singing. Of all the musical pursuits, it is probably the one most people do, almost without thinking. We sing along to the latest tunes or those old favourites in the car, on iTunes etc; maybe we sing a little nursery rhyme to a small baby, or sing and chant in the school playground (I assume they still do that, at least at Primary school). It’s cheap to do - you don’t need special equipment, you don’t have to have special lessons (unless you want to of course). It’s good for your brain (as we are finding out), for your mental health and it is also good for your stamina (I never realised how physically demanding conducting is - standing up, waving your arms, singing bits with your singers soon knocks you out of breath if you're unfit!!). And like walking you can do it anywhere - in the bath, in the car, whilst walking around with your headphones on, in a choir, at school, in your lunch break with like-minded work colleagues, at a retirement club, in a hospital - endless possibilities!
There has been a resurgence of interest in setting up choirs in all sorts of work places and in all sorts of social and other settings, fuelled by several television programmes. Gareth Malone and his choirs demonstrated, for example, that it isn’t just the singing that people enjoy and benefit from - it’s getting together with other people, supporting and encouraging each other, working hard on something that you think you’ll never master, feeling the joy when it all comes together and you're making music together, and then that joie-de-vivre you get when you hear an audience applaud what you have worked hard to achieve. In my opinion there’s nothing like it and there seems to be a choir for everyone out there - rock choirs have become popular as you don’t need to be able to read music and you have fun whilst learning the songs, community choirs exist all round the country and there are choral societies and formal choirs in practically every town crying out for new members. So why not try it out? - you have nothing to lose except your inhibitions!