Singing is a highly effective way of helping to deal with mental ‘chatter’ and today’s demanding lifestyle, says the leader of the country’s choir schools.
Speaking at the Choir Schools’ Association’s Annual Conference in Durham, its Chairman Paul Smith, Headmaster of Hereford Cathedral School, said: “It is well-documented that singing has a positive impact on well-being.
‘In a recent whole school singing practice, our Director of Music instructed everyone to out-sing their neighbour. To see every pupil in the school totally absorbed in singing to their peers was certainly good for my well-being! For a short period everyone was focussed on the job of singing. They stopped dwelling on negative internal chatter, those distracting thoughts we all have about life’s issues and problems. Their singing created positive energy and a happy mood which was infectious and transparently good for everyone.
‘Singing can act as a form of meditation, taking us away from everyday worries and concerns, and as such has real spiritual benefit. It brings people together, and encourages empathy.
‘This is obvious to some of us, but we must guard against taking it for granted, and not assume that others either recognise or appreciate the wider benefits of music making, singing and a strong choral tradition. At a time when participation in school music is under threat from the Ebacc, and when cathedral foundations are facing growing financial constraints, it is important to keep banging the drum about the significant advantages of music and singing.”
Mr Smith added: “21st-century choir schools come in all shapes and sizes, but the 45 school members of CSA are at one when it comes to offering a unique musical training for the 1200+ boy and girl choristers who sing daily in our cathedrals and collegiate choirs. This they do, on top of their studies and a wealth of other activities, to the highest standards which are the envy of the world. No-one pretends it’s easy, particularly as it is in addition to the ever burgeoning range of pressures which now impact on young people. Don’t forget, some are as young as eight, yet they are well up for the challenges of such a demanding and busy life.”