Wren Music runs three Singing for Wellness groups – in East Devon, West Devon, and Torbay. The groups are for people with respiratory conditions, those suffering the effects of long covid, or anyone with impaired breathing. The choirs meet every week during the academic year.
In East Devon, the meetings are on Mondays, 1:30pm-3:30pm at Honiton Family Church, High Street, Honiton.
In Torbay, the sessions are also on Tuesdays, 2.30pm-4.30pm, at The Windmill Centre, Pendennis Rd, Torquay.
In West Devon, the choir meets on Thursdays, 2.00pm-4.00pm at Pavilion in the Park, Mill Road, Okehampton.
No singing experience is necessary, and there are opportunities for the choirs to give local performances, for people wishing to take part.
Each session starts with a series of breathing, relaxation and oxygenation exercises followed by pitch, tuning and harmonising exercises. The group then learns and sings a few songs. The meetings are also an opportunity for people with respiratory conditions to socialise in a safe environment and there is time at the start of the sessions for a chat and a hot drink.
The Singing for Wellness project is led by Wren Music professional singers, Paul Wilson, Sarah Owen and Jon Dyer, who receive special training from a respiratory physiotherapist at the University of Plymouth.
Singing can be of benefit to people with respiratory conditions such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Some of the singers attending the Music for Wellness choirs say their breathing is improved after each session. Comments from participants include:
“The exercises and the singing definitely help with my breathing. I notice that it’s much better in the days after the sessions, and then it starts to deteriorate as the week progresses until the next choir session. If there were two sessions a week, I’d come to both.”
“The singing does improve my breathing, it’s very noticeable the following day. But it does more than that. It gets me out to meet people. It cheers me up.”
“I used to love singing, but I lost my voice. I’m coming to Singing for Wellness because I’m trying to strengthen my voice and they absolutely have helped. Even after only a few sessions, I’m already feeling the benefit. The exercises we do at the start are brilliant.”
Singing for Wellness was initially launched by Wren Music as an NHS-funded pilot in Torbay. As a result of its success, Wren Music received funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to run Singing for Wellness as a long-term project.
The sessions are ‘pay what you feel’, with £5 suggested. You can book a place by emailing [email protected] or calling 01837 53754, or just turn up on the day.