Inside St Mary’s Church. Photo credit: Hina Singh
Singing for Health is a short course that is offered by Slough CMHT’s Hope College to it’s service users. It was set up to promote mental health recovery, psycho-education and access to activities and support within the community.
From my own experience I know just how vital this is. The mental health sevices available have enabled the service user to build upon regain and strengthen self-autonomy and in tandem helping them to reduce the stigma. As a therapist said many a time we all have mental health not just those attending the CMHT with a diagnosis. Fortunately for us locals the Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust is a tour de force in the diverse mental health services it provides in the community not just in the clinical setting. We truly are blessed.
Now for my experience attending ‘the Singing for Health’ Workshop. I missed the first session but still wanted to try to get there, to help me rebuild on my lost; confidence, resilience assertiveness and its accompanied increased isolation. I needed an activity that allowed me to be sociable without too much politics & unnecessary competition. I just needed a place where I could go and leave my troubles at the door and upon leaving feel lighter for having attended.
So, on the morning of my first time attending the group I was very anxious , equally excited and exhausted due to minimal sleep. Nothing new there – moan, groan, moan, groan! Then I arrived at the venue, St Mary’s Church in Slough. I actually did a whole lap of the church trying to find the entrance. Finally inside, I found the group and a few familiar faces hoorah and some! Everyone seemed so warm and friendly & as a newbie I felt very welcome. The group consisted of 4 singing teachers, support workers and us service users. To be honest I was very distracted by church interior with it’s stunning stain glass windows, high ceilings and ornamental details scattered about!
I’m a huge music lover but also naturally very shy so I never had much confidence to sing growing up, except for at home! In particular much to the annoyance of my younger siblings, who would get fed up of their elder sister’s dulcet tones (hahaha). To the point whereby they laid down the ground rule that I wasn’t allowed to sing when ‘Top of The Pops’ was on the tele! If I sang along they would ‘mute the fudgin TV’! This would be preceded by all of us madly scrambling to hog the blessed remote control – that we lovingly nicknamed ‘the remo’ – just before the show began, Arghhh!!! Not that that stopped me singing at home at other times or whilst Top of The Pops or any other music show was on [insert Muttly’s mischievous laugh here]. I am sure most siblings in those days and now can relate to this madness of bickering!
Oops I digress.
As a group we start with some warm up exercises and then split off into three sub – groups to practice our specific parts of the songs du jour; the tune, the harmonies and the low tones. Before I knew it I had embraced singing with full gusto with the first song which was ‘Lollipop’ oh my god, I was in heaven (pun central oops). Suffice to say, I felt at home being a big kid and being reminded of classical films such ‘Stand by Me’. You know! That infamous scene when the 4 teenage boys go off on their secret adventure walking across the train track singing this song
Film: Standy By Me. Photo credit: Pinterest
Also the brilliant film ‘Corrina Corrina’ came to mind when, Molly and her friend have a spat in kids gospel choir scene, they then hug it out and Molly comes to life as she throws herself completely into singing ‘This Little Light of Mine’. “Another classic TUNE”!
Film: Corrina Corrina. Photo credit: Wikipedia
I cannot help film referencing as you can see, sorry.
So back to my singing experience by now I was grinning from ear to ear, as I sang my heart out and happy childhood memories ensued. Memories of attending my beloved St Laurence C of E primary school, yonks ago. For this reason I feel somewhat of an affinity to Christianity even though I am Hindu. Ah my little hymn book and saying the Lords Prayer every morning in assembly came flooding back to me standing in front of the stained glass windows you can see in the picture above.
Everytime we reconvened to sing as a collective something beautiful happened, hearing the harmonies subgroup as we all sang I ‘drank in’ the whole exponential spiritually uplifting experience, finding that inner voice and being totally in the moment totally present and mindful. Priceless.
Finally, I recall talking to the support worker and saying “Why did it take me so long to come to this group?! She knew exactly what I meant and remarked “It’s hard to put it into words, right! When trying to encourage a person to attend, words alone cannot explain this, you really have to come along and experience it for yourself.
She was so spot on! – (You know who you are).