The high-profile initiative by Gareth Malone began after the lockdown and has attracted considerable engagement from people all over the UK.
But what has happened to the many singing groups which cater for people with long-term health conditions, such as COPD and Parkinson’s which render them especially vulnerable to the virus? Many singing groups also support people with a history of mental health challenges, who may experience heightened stress from the social isolation measures.
The Sidney De Haan Centre has teamed up with Canterbury Cantata Trust, Live Music Now, and the Natural Voice Network to gather information on how groups have used online platforms like Zoom to continue their work.
"The centre has undertaken research on singing for health for many years, and we are aware that many groups are keeping going online during the current lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“A national survey of the experiences of groups is very timely, and will help us to understand the challenges that groups have faced in keeping in contact, and the solutions musical directors have found to keeping groups singing together.
This initial survey will be the foundation for further research later in the year to look at the longer-term consequences for singing for health activity nationally."
Professor Grenville Hancox, Creative Director of Canterbury Cantata Trust and the Sing to Beat Parkinson’s project, said: “Canterbury Cantata Trust is delighted to be collaborating on this COVID-19 study with Canterbury Christ Church University. We are seeing, first-hand, the importance of adapting, maintaining, and developing further a connection with participants across our many singing and health groups. The collection and analysis of information associated with different approaches to delivery will inform best practice, essential for practitioners going forward in these uncertain times.”
Dr. Dave Camlin, Trustee of the Natural Voice Network said: “Many of the 700 plus members of our network have an explicit ‘wellbeing’ focus to their practice, and everyone has been directly affected by the pandemic. While some members have found creative ways to keep their choirs singing, others have had to cease activity for the foreseeable future. The impact on the wellbeing of the 70,000 plus people who regularly sang with an Natural Voice group before the crisis is therefore significant.
"We welcome this study, to help understand the implications of the loss of group singing at such a large scale, and the impact of the innovative measures that some practitioners have taken to maintain activity, as well as documenting any unexpected outcomes arising from the current challenging circumstances.”
Evan Dawson, CEO of Live Music Now said: “During these difficult times, Live Music Now's musicians cannot visit care homes in person, to continue bringing live music to the people who live and work there. However, they and the National Care Forum, have told us that music is more important than ever; helping separated people connect and communicate; expressing individual and shared identities; and lifting, processing and reflecting our moods and emotions.
“For many years, Live Music Now has been processing and developing the evidence, to inform and support this work, with our trusted partners. During the past few weeks, the team at LMN has adapted this approach, moving things online, developing ways to maintain connections through music, for people living and working in care. The feedback from care homes has been tremendously encouraging, whilst also providing a role and income for freelance musicians.”
Musicians leading Singing for Health Groups and Community Choirs supporting the wellbeing of their members, can complete the online questionnaire here.
The surveys will run from Monday 18 May for four weeks and a report on the findings will be available by early July.