Singing and friendship are both wonderful for our mental health, so when our three Sing for Life choirs had to stop meeting in person because of the coronavirus, their choir leader Sue Edmonds was determined the show must go on.

“Music and a sense of belonging can be immensely healing, and it’s well known that singing can improve your breathing, posture and muscle tension as well as making you feel happier,” explains Sue.  “When our three choirs in Cosham, Salisbury and Totton had to stop meeting, I felt it was incredibly important to find a way to keep the connection, routine and community feel going.”  

Sue runs three one-hour sessions a week and around 20 people regularly come along to each one.  They start the session with a chat, before Sue plays a selection of tracks and invites everyone to sing along, using the gallery view in Zoom. She plays all their favourites, from ABBA to The Beatles. Before the lockdown, she’d been preparing her choirs for a VE Day performance so they’ve continued singing, ‘We’ll meet again’ and ‘Wish me luck as you wave me goodbye,’ - songs which mean as much in these uncertain times as they did all those years ago. Sue says she’s also introduced a couple of new songs which she hopes are helping to get everyone through this time. “We’ve been singing, ‘here comes the sun,’ and ‘I can see clearly now,’ which are older songs which feel poignant today,” she says. “Hi ho silver lining’ is a popular end to the sessions and we all wave our arms to wish each other well until next week.”     

Feedback has been positive, with numbers going up and choir members telling Sue they’re grateful she’s been able to keep the groups singing.

“Sing for Life is the best medicine,” says Barbara, and Merylyn comments that she, “felt elevated this afternoon singing with you all.” “It was lovely to see you all,” says Pat. “A really happy hour.”         

Sue says: 

“Being on Zoom can be a bit daunting if you’re not used to it and we haven’t been able to reach everyone, but it’s been important to adapt so we can carry on seeing each other. It’s our safe place to meet up and try and forget everything for a while. I tell everyone to sing as loud as they can! We’ve had dogs and drum kits feature, and our sessions feel like a big happy family get together. The coronavirus pandemic may have taken away our ability to meet up in person, but it hasn’t taken away our sense of togetherness.”