Singing together with others is about much more than just learning songs. It makes people's lives better. It lifts our spirits, strengthens our mental and physical health, builds a sense of community, and helps with feelings of loneliness and isolation which are so acute at the moment. This extends to those who lead singing as well. The Government needs to understand that restricting choirs is not a zero-cost option, because it profoundly affects your life, and the lives of so many other people. To ALL singers and choir leaders, this is your chance to tell the Government what being a part of your choir means to you.
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During lockdown I have looked after my ex who has Alzheimer’s . it has been a hug challenge and it has taken its toll on my mental health . The only thing that has kept me sane is music!
Zoom Sessions with my choir and the knowledge that we would soon all be back together singing live and performing kept me going. I don’t think the Government realises how therapeutic and beneficial singing can be! Zoom sessions cannot compare to live singing and the support received from your fellow members and friends. It’s not just an activity it’s a medication and it’s needed not just by me but by thousands up and down the country who feel the same way!
Please take these points on board and please reconsider the options for the sake of out mental health.
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I sing with a long standing Chamber Choir in Notts (Newstead Abbey Singers), (been with them for 7 years) and am also chair of Burton Joyce Choral society, and have sung with them for 33 years. I sang in the school choir. I have sung in, and accompanied in the past, our local church choir. (Your site will only allow me to put one in). I have sung in "scratch " choirs and attended singing days around the Midlands. Many of my friends are singers.
Singing has always been a joy to me. I revel in the sound the human voice can make, and in using it to entertain others. I love both learning new music and singing anthems from Tudor times, and from monastic psalters. I love singing WITH others. There is such a strong sense of well-being and communing with others in singing, whether in our smaller chamber choir, or our local choral society, or with massed choirs in a cathedral. The singing and the communing with others while doing so gives such an enormous sense of well being which is hard to match in any other way, except in a new physical achievement, for example, my first 10k race. Quite frankly on the very very limited occasions we have been able to meet up over the past year, the overwhelming emotion was joy!!
Singing also helps uphold our rich history and tradition of making music. This is important, and we are in danger of losing some of this, if we are not allowed to sing in groups.
Singing requires no financial outlay on an instrument.. The human voice is an incredible instrument in its own right!
Anybody who says singing on the internet via Zoom is a substitute, is, quite simply, wrong.
However, singing is not just important to me but to all those in our choirs. They come because they CAN sing but also for the sociability of it which is so very important for mental health. For some there is little other social activity in a week, and singing sustains them; meeting the other members sustains them, and maybe even gives a sense of purpose which they may not get from anything else. It is also something which folk can carry on doing when other activities may be beyond them.. we have a singing member in our choral society who is 91!
Government need to understand that over 2 million people cannot be wrong, and that we NEED very much to be told that this is OK. The science has not changed since last year. If thousands can attend test matches, and football matches, and groups meet to do exercise etc etc then singers must also be allowed to meet in their choirs, to sing currently in a risk assessed environment, with most of our members having had two Covid vaccinations, by now.
For the sake of mental health, community, and music itself, I feel singing is so very important.
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Singing together with other people is not just a hobby for me. It has helped me build my confidence, make countless new friends, and manage my anxiety, and brought me the kind of fulfilment that lots of other people get from getting married and having children. Joining my chamber choir in 2016 and singing with other people to a very high standard was a lifeline during what was otherwise a terrible year of my life; I was very very anxious about Trump and Brexit, and struggling to deal with the fallout from a relationship break-up. No matter how terrible I was feeling during the day, I always felt so much better once I started singing with my choir. The day Trump got elected, I had been crying in the office toilets for most of the day, terrified that he would start a nuclear war soon. Then I went to my choir rehearsal in the evening, started singing Haydn's wonderful Nelson Mass, completely forgot about Trump, and felt happy for the first time that day.
I'm also a member of my local church choir. Singing with them has been absolutely central to my Christian faith, and has helped me make lots of local friends and find a real sense of community in my part of London - something that I had never really experienced in London before. I'm still going to church, but it's very sad being there and not being able to sing. I'm particularly annoyed about the change to government guidance limiting indoor singing to six people because for church choirs, it's MORE restrictive than step 2 of the roadmap was. That's a reversal of lockdown easing when we were promised it would be irreversible, and an enormous breach of public trust.
Not being able to sing with my choirs has made my anxiety much worse. I had always been able to manage it without needed any medication or talking therapies, but earlier this year I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and had to undergo a course of cognitive behavioural therapy.
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I've been singing in choirs since I was about 5 but I also sing tribute songs and play piano and play keyboards and sing in a rock/ and soul band. So it's an essential part of my life and I miss it. The Nonsuch Singers is a high-end choral group which meets once a week and is due to 'tour' Winchester Cathedral at the end of July. We are all longing to get back together again because we miss each other as individuals as much as we miss making an amazing sound together. In a choir you learn to enjoy the empty spaces, the times when you AREN'T singing; you learn to allow your voice to blend (and not dominate) and you learn such a lot about other cultures , if you have the chance (as we do) to sing in lots of different languages. As a result of the lockdown and the dreadfully slow unlocking, not only are some members of our choir hesitant but many of us may feel we have lost our mojo and even our vocal skills. I don't subscribe to that - we have to be allowed to sing TOGETHER again, not at a distance of 5 metres , and I'm sure our lovely voices will come flooding back. At least I'm hoping that!
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When I sing alone it is linked to a memory or emotion and it may be a very healthy expression that makes me feel better. Perhaps it’s akin to crying or laughter nearer to the extremes and is everything in between as well; in fact hearing music can kickstart the same emotions.
If I’m given a new song to sing alone then it’s possible that I have to learn the “feeling” that’s within the song, perhaps the song will never tap into my personal reservoir of feeling.
The expressions felt are enhanced when singing with others; through listening we realise that others feel the same ( some of the time ) and this reinforces the expressions in a communal way bringing us close together.....wow, others feel this too..!
This happens simultaneously usually but response elements or counter harmonies seem to take us to a new level.
With the right song and similarly minded people we are drawn together more....powerful indeed.
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Listening to others feel the music, rhythm and feel of a beautiful piece of music together with you is a magical thing. Throughout the years choir has helped me manage many challenges - including sometimes high levels of stress. It’s helped me progress in work because it offers instant perspective and takes me out of my own head!
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I first joined Teddington Choral Society after having singing lessons. It was at my teachers recommendation.
The reason I took up singing was I had a nervous break down and nearly took my own life. Someone suggested as I had enjoyed singing in church it might be a good idea to start taking lessons so I did.
Joining TCS has really been a big part of my life over the last 12 years and singing has helped me through some very difficult times in my life.
I love the way the different harmonys build up to make such a wonderful sound and it always send shivers down my spine hearing the choir perform and being part of that beautiful sound.
It has been really difficult not being able to sing over the past year. Can't wait till we get back together.
I also belong to Rock Choir and that is completely different again but just as wonderful.
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Provides me with a space where I can feel fulfilled physically , socially and emotionally. I enjoy having the opportunity to meet likeminded people of all ages . Singing has always been part of my life and I have always been part of choirs. BSC is a valuable group that integrates all spectrums of our community.
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Life feels partly on hold until choir restarts. It was like a new hobby and represented real learning to me, as being an Alto is a challenge for someone who doesn’t read music. I have been introduced to some of the most beautiful music which has enhanced my life and broadened my knowledge. The pleasure this brings is such that any social aspects of the choir are a plus; I would have stayed for the beauty of the sound produced and the satisfying challenge of contributing, even if other members were not open and friendly (which they are!). I have tried singing by Zoom and stopped as it was too unsatisfying to sing alone.
I am not elderly and have a host of other interests, and family and friends to help me bide my time until I can sing once more. I simply can’t imagine what the lack of a choir might mean to someone who feels as I do, but lacks the distractions I am lucky to enjoy.
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Singing means different things to different people. I can only speak for myself but I suspect I'm not unusual. For me, singing allows an emotional "release", a personal expression of words set to music and the excitement of rhythm. An escape, a distraction from the complicated and often frenzied pace of modern life. Whatever has happened in the day, I feel better leaving a choir rehearsal than when I arrived. Added to this is the sheer enjoyment of doing something you love with others who love it too! You are understood by them. A shared passion, an active collaboration, a united goal and one that often leads to new friendships and a community outside my daily life.
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I have been singing and involved in musical activities since childhood. Choral singing is both a physical and a mental exercise and also a social one. It is one of the things which I have missed most in this pandemic. I know that my fellow choristers are as anxious as I to get back to rehearsing and preforming, to continue to study great music and come to understand something of the intellectual effort expended in its composition. The Committee of my choral society is constantly planning to start activities in person again, but has been frequently thwarted when the goal seemed nigh. For many of us, this activity is one of the highlights of our existence.
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I truly believe that singing is essential for both mental and physical wellbeing. I already knew about the mental health aspect from just seeing how much my mood improved during rehearsals, and the sheer joy that performing with a group all singing in harmony brought about. But some years ago I was diagnosed with cancer and had to have chemo, followed by surgery. I joined my local community choir at the end of chemo, to bring some happiness and purpose back into my life, and then a few months later I had surgery. The surgery was on a Wednesday, and choir rehearsal was the following Monday. When that Monday came around I was feeling really rotten, sick and sore, but because rehearsals were so close to my house I decided to go, figuring I could always leave early if I felt too unwell.
But a miraculous thing happened. Just breathing and singing together with my choir made me feel substantially better physically. Before the rehearsal I'd been so sore and weak, but afterwards I felt so much brighter and more energetic. And of course mentally better too. THAT'S the power of singing. I've been lost this past year without it.
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