I just thought that I would share a few experiences from my week, as some have been remarkable, some have been beautiful, some have been hilarious and all have been incredibly worthwhile!
As a full time Singing for Health and Well-Being Practitioner (self appointed title!) I have the privilege of spending my days helping different people, with all sorts of needs, benefit from singing. So this week, I have been song writing with Young Offenders, talking to and singing with people with Alzheimer’s and Dementia about their favourite songs from films, dancing with a lovely lady in a care home who just wanted to spin me round as I sang, laughing uproariously with a Singing for Parkinson’s group doing a vocal warm up exercise and lots more! I really can’t tell you how happy this job makes me! In this era of Social Prescribing and finding alternatives to medication, Singing for Health has never been more relevant and important.
So what does it do? Well we all know that singing makes us feel great – but there is so much more to it. The mental and physical benefits of singing are really far reaching. For people with Parkinson’s singing can be beneficial for lots of the symptoms including helping to maintain flexibility in the facial and throat muscles and vocal volume and clarity. For people with Alzheimer’s singing can trigger memories and help to unlock emotions, amongst lots of other benefits.
For people with Mental Health Illness singing can engender positivity and feelings of togetherness and hope. For offenders singing can help social skills like listening, communicating, respecting each other and working together. Moreover it gives people who may have been socially isolated, the chance to belong to something and be part of a creative process with others which is an amazing boost for self esteem. And this is just the tip of the ice-burg – there are so many ways in which singing can help people.
In one of my Singing for Parkinson’s groups this week, I asked them to participate in a silly warm up game where everyone makes a noise – it’s up to them what noise as long as they make it on their designated number – well it just descended into hilarity with one of the group choosing to make a bellowing EEYORE!! every time it was his turn, with others blowing raspberries and yelling riotous Yee-Hahs. Everyone was falling about laughing, and felt much better for it!
I have also been supporting a group of young offenders to write a song about their experiences in custody and in the community. Just listening to what they say and writing it down is unbelievable, but then giving them the opportunity to put these thoughts in order to create song lyrics is wonderful. I have been really impressed with their focus and determination to make their song as representative of their experiences as it can be.
The most beautiful thing that has happened to me this week is singing with a lady who has lost all of her communication skills due to dementia. I sat by her bed and sang Somewhere Over the Rainbow with her and she sang every single word. Her daughter and grand daughter were in the room too and they said it was like she was back with them – albeit it briefly – but she was there. It was so moving and powerful to help this lovely lady find her singing voice, and so amazing to be in a position to do that!
I am really lucky to be able to spend my professional life helping people to benefit from singing. It is so special, and every day I see something that amazes me or makes me want to cry. Singing on prescription…. I think it’s the way forward!