Singing is our birthright. When we sing, we convey feeling and engage breath, body and vocal cords in an intricate dance to produce a call, cry, or melody. Group singing has been shown to support participants socially, mentally, emotionally and physically. Singing is simple – everyone can sing. Really?
Singing is complex physically: we need to balance effort levels around a variety of skills including pitch, volume, phonation, breath, and support, articulation, and resonation. These can all be impacted by physical and mental wellbeing.
Singing is complex psychologically – family, home, and environment, gender, culture, physical health, beliefs about singing and self-esteem all impact. When your breath may have been stopped by witnessing the unspeakable, when your liberty is curtailed and you are placed in detention, when the physical or emotional pain so strong it feels as though your throat has a stopper in it, when your stomach is twisted with stress that you are in permanent ‘flight or fright’ then singing could feel almost impossible. It can also give voice.
“When we sing our voices… resonate inward to help us connect to our bodies and express our emotions and they resonate outwards to help us connect to others” (Diane Austin. Music Psychotherapist)
I was delighted to work with Vanessa Lucas-Smith, a cellist who initiated The Calais Sessions [https://www.thecalaissessions.com/], recording musicians in the ‘jungle’ camp in France. She and I supported women in Yarl’s Wood, through musical play, to feel comfortable to share their songs. Confidence to feel comfortable to sing in a one-off workshop is not easy. Those who could, embraced the invitation to be ‘be heard’.
“Everyone needs confidence before they can let themselves play in the fullest sense of the word. Playing, is what people need to do if they want to express and communicate something of themselves through music” (Steve Lewis. Percussionist)