Suggested words

The Power of Singing

Published by: Rob White

The Royal Pavilion choir first got together in September 2023. This was the first time we’d had a choir at work and was also the first time I had been in one. I’m usually a very shy singer. I hate singing in front of other people (unless after a few drinks anyway…) and only ever sing when I’m at home by myself or driving, though with passion, I might add.

The first meeting was just after I got back from holiday abroad, so I guess I was feeling particularly enthusiastic and decided to go along with some of my colleagues. I actually can’t remember what we sang in that first session, but I do remember how much I loved it. We were only a small group and I did certainly still feel some of that shyness, but there’s something about singing in a group with other people that broke down the reticence in me.

Choir group
Smiley happy people, members of the choir

We decided pretty early on that we would aim to perform in the Music Room of the Royal Pavilion just before Christmas, so we would stick to rehearsing festive songs in preparation for that.

Over the following 12 weeks I went along to every session after work. Choir was something I looked forward to every week, both for the singing and the chance to spend some fun time with colleagues outside of our usual office environment.

Over the last year I’ve been dealing with some health issues which have severely impacted my mental health so some days feel pretty hard for me, but having the opportunity to go to choir has been such a help.

Firstly, just going and singing with friends is obviously a mood-booster and trying to learn words and harmonies is great for taking my mind off of more negative things.

Secondly, there is actual science around the fact that singing helps improve depression and anxiety – when we sing our bodies’ levels of cortisol drop (the stress hormone) and levels of endorphins and oxytocin rise, both of which promote positive feelings. So for me, not only is choir just a nice after-work activity, it also is a little island of escape if I’m having a bad mental health day, and I’m so grateful for that.

Royal Pavilion Music Room
The Music Room of the Royal Pavilion, the perfect setting for a choir

Annoyingly, I ended up missing the Christmas concert due to having covid – typical! But I while I was lying on my deathbed I was really delighted to see recordings of the rest of the group singing. It sounded amazing and was great to see our practice paying off.

We took a few months off at the start of this year, but we finally met up again and started a new term of sessions last month. A Pride-themed concert is on the cards this time, featuring songs by a number of LGBTQ+ icons like Erasure and Lady Gaga.

I don’t think I can fully express how much singing has helped me over the last 9 months, how grateful I am to have had that space to go to each week and how nice it is to experience with such a lovely group of people. I’m very thankful that my workplace is supportive of such an initiative and recognises choir as something important for staff.

I’m still not sure I’m up for a solo though…