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New choir offers chance to improve health through song

A pop-up choir earlier this month raised £1,500 for the 'From Shetland With Love' charity. Photo: Dale Smith

SHETLAND Arts is launching a natural voice Wellbeing Choir to provide an opportunity for members of the public to enjoy the health and social benefits of singing.

The medical profession is increasingly recognising that singing has considerable health benefits.

The choir will be open to everyone, with no previous experience required. There are no auditions and participants are not required to read music.

There will be performance opportunities for those who want them, but the group’s primary aim is to create a “friendly, open space for people to gather together, enjoy singing and form new friendships – there is absolutely no pressure to become the next singing sensation!”

As an aerobic activity, singing increases the oxygen level in the blood and exercises the upper body. It is also said to have psychological effects, decreasing stress and inducing a feeling of wellbeing.

Singing in a group also brings people together, increases confidence and creates new social networks.

Shetland Arts will be circulating information about the choir around health centres and GPs are encouraged to refer patients suffering from chronic illness, mental health issues and other health problems to the group, with carers and family welcome too – “singing on prescription!”

The group will meet on a Tuesday evening from 7pm to 8.30pm at Mareel. The first hour will focus on singing while the final half hour will be an opportunity for a cup of tea and a chat.

Shetland Arts is in the process of appointing a choir leader who will both lead the group and suggest songs, but group members are encouraged to contribute suggestions of their favourite songs.

The group is open to all, and the sessions can be attended either by booking a slot in advance or dropping in on the day. There will be a £2 fee to cover refreshments.

Shetland Arts creative projects manager Cara McDiarmid said she was “very excited” that a new element was being added to the organisation’s arts and wellbeing programme.

“It has come at the perfect time, as the recent success of the ‘From Shetland With Love’ pop-up choir shows a real interest in this type of group in Shetland,” Cara said. “My hope is that the community will come together to enjoy this opportunity and improve their health through song.”