Singing 21- Covid 0
Updated: Apr 23
I teach at a brilliant place called TCR Hub. Its wonderful staff and volunteers have been supporting our community through Covid-19 with food deliveries, a programme of family activities, and general good cheer.
They are also, in partnership with the National Lottery, running a programme of wellbeing activities called But First...Pause that I am very proud to be a part of.
Since January, I have been helping a wide range range of people, in around and Teesdale, 20 in total, sing through the dark Winter into the Spring.
This is Pauline (and her dog) who enjoyed being part of the singing project
There's Jane, a respiratory nurse who has worked in the hospital in full PPE throughout the pandemic.
Margaret, who has Asthma and COPD and was the star singer in her school (and is still amazing- you should hear her Les Mis!)
Chris, who has thought she couldn't sing for 50 years and is now looking forward to joining a choir.
You can meet some of the other lovely people on the project here.
There is one participant who really stood out who doesn't appear on that page. She is far too busy to write a testimonial. She has 3 kids, many sheep, a job as an NHS physio- and Long Covid.
I needed her to be part of this story though, so I have written about her, and the wonderful progress in singing and health she has made.
Ruth is an NHS physiotherapist who contracted COVID-19 whilst working to rehabilitate people in hospital. After several months off work, Ruth was still struggling to breathe, and it became clear that she was now living with Long Covid.
Ruth's husband encouraged her to join the singing project after seeing a post on our village Facebook group. Even though Ruth hadn't sung since school, and it was a long way out of her comfort zone, he thought it was worth a try and encouraged her to get in touch.
When she messaged me to tentatively find out more about the project, she was very concerned that there might be others out there who may need it more- this is the our selflessness of our NHS.
One of Ruth's sheep with her lambs
I have never worked with anyone more determined, even though she was often visibly exhausted. As a result of her commitment to making things better for herself and her family, she made fantastic progress. Not only in her breathing, which was our main focus, but also in following the melody and generally making a nice, confident sound.
Just as COVID-19 affects more than just the lungs, singing helps more than just breathing. In the 6 weeks that we worked together, Ruth also saw significant improvements in her ability to concentrate.
Music helps the different sides of our brain talk to each other, building new connections between them. Singing in particular requires us to do many things all at once, so it's a fun way to improve cognitive function.
Singing is so good for your brain
Ruth was finding it a challenge to remember both the words and the melody to songs. So she devised her own system for showing how the melody line moved.
She would print out the words, and in addition to details about volume and emotions I encourage my students to add, she added arrows indicating where the melody went up and down. It worked so well that I will be encouraging future students to do the same.
Music follows patterns, and Ruth found a great way to draw them easily
She also saw an improvement in her general wellbeing. As well as the dopamine singing releases, the effect of improved breathing and ability to do something new so well helped her feel good.
The sessions were important 'me time' away from the kids after so many months of being mostly housebound, and homeschooling.
It's great to know that Ruth now has singing to help her in her rehabilitation and throughout her life. She can also share the pleasure of singing with her family - and possibly the sheep!
It feels so good to be able to help people, especially those who have done so much to help others through this time. That's why the title says Singing 21- Covid 0, the extra one is me.
If you'd like to find out more about developing your singing with me, please click here to find out more.
For more singing to make you smile, you can connect with me on social media just follow the links at the bottom of this website page.