It has seemed in the last couple of years as though the medical profession were finally understanding the importance of singing. Studies were being done about the effect that singing had on depression and cognitive function in people with degenerative brain conditions. All the studies were showing the hugely positive impact of music on people’s lives. Doctors were starting to prescribe group singing as a method of dealing with depressive disorders. It felt like we were turning a big corner in terms of the understanding of the part of music in holistic health.
And then we got Covid-19 and everything has gone a bit pants. There seems to have been an understanding that some social interactivity needs to take place for people’s mental health and the economy, but so far, the risks that are perceived as being part of group singing practice have meant that nothing can resume yet. We’re all making noises about “any day soon”, but we’re also very aware that we might be looking at a Christmas with no carols.
In the meantime we are all stuck in limbo with no music.
But there are things we can do to help ourselves when we feel low and sad and disconnected from our fellow singers. Here are some of the things I’ve found helpful:
- Car singing. If you drive, and have access to a car, I cannot recommend this enough. Drive out into the nearest “middle of nowhere” place you can find, and crank up the stereo with feel-good tunes from a happy point in your life. Sing loudly where no-one can hear you. If you have countryside nearby, wind down the windows, stick your elbow out and move some real air through your vocal cords. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t in tune, or you don’t remember the words! Just sing!
- Background music whilst doing other tasks. If you are working from home still, put on music whilst you work. Or whilst you cook dinner, or hoover (hoovering is good, put it on headphones and nobody will hear you singing along over the sound of the hoover!).
- Compile a “Feel Good Playlist” which only has things that make you out and out happy on it. Online streaming services are excellent for this. Play it all the time. On headphones as you walk around the supermarket, on your daily walk to work, or making breakfast in the morning. Sing along whenever you feel you can.
- Watch some silly music films. My recommendation of the moment is “Eurovision: The Legend of Fire Saga” which is cheesy, romantic, silly and uplifting. The soundtrack is on our “Feel Good Playlist” in this house. But there are equally good ones out there – I love “Pitch Perfect” and anything MGM with Howard Keel!
- Basically, surround yourself with music and sing along whenever you feel you can. Living in close proximity to other people can make that feel really awkward, but sometimes scheduling “Silly Singalong” with other family/house members can help. If you are all feeling silly, then it makes it much more possible to sing in company.
Music can help us all, and right now, we all need help. The path out of the pandemic is not going to be straight. It is looking increasingly likely that there will be ups and downs, and wiggles left and right as we go in and out of lockdown, rules change every week, and life changes to accommodate all of it. But through all of this, let music be your guide and remember:
WE WILL ALL SING TOGETHER AGAIN.