• Sonia Price

An encouraging reminder

I was reminded this week why we sing for health. Each week I am inundated with smiling faces, laughter and good vibes at our sessions, all of which of course contribute to our experience of feeling uplifted and revitalised. But this week I was acutely conscious of other emotions at play: sorrow, grief, loneliness, confusion, exhaustion and mental anguish. Each was voiced to me by individuals within the first few minutes of arrival at the session, and I was struggling with two myself.

And yet - something about taking part in communal singing enables us to set these aside. It doesn't gloss over them or negate their significance, but it provides a space for release, reflection and, yes, I'll say it again, revitalisation. The British anthropologist, Robin Dunbar, likens modern group behaviours to acts of social grooming in which endorphins are released through social discourse (I'm simplifying his premise here somewhat!). Perhaps we don't realise this during our singing sessions on a Saturday morning, but as we sang this week, laughed with one another, willed the men on as they launched into 'their' verse and provided a comforting hug to friends, we were, I believe, doing exactly that: releasing those much sought-after endorphins and revitalising (sorry) ourselves and others.

Watching those who've disclosed their struggles engage with and clearly get joy from something so simple - singing - encourages me no end. New members joining each week (and coming back the next!) encourages me no end. Seeing folks come in downcast or in pain, and leave smiling and laughing encourages me no end. Realising that I've been lifted up and 'endorphined' - is that a word? - encourages me no end. So whatever we do, let's keep on singing.