For some, singing in a choir is a distant (possibly suppressed) memory from a forced primary school assembly experience – and not something you’d readily jump at the chance to repeat.
However, the popularity of choirs is widening – in part thanks to the popularity of reality TV shows – and both the physical and mental benefits of group singing are becoming more recognisable than ever.
Patrick Barrett is the choir master of YMCA Club’s Community Choir, which started in 2018 by the request of YMCA Club members.
He’s had an extensive music education and is currently also Choral Conductor of both the University of Birmingham Women’s Choir and the University of Reading’s Chamber Choir, as well as assistant conductor with the National Children’s Choir and musicianship tutor with the National Youth Choir of Great Britain.
Throughout his studies he sang in some of Ireland’s leading choirs, including New Dublin Voices, Irish Youth Chamber Choir and the Trinity College Chapel.
“Our group is designed for everyone, from all backgrounds and walks of life,” he says. “We are a very welcoming group who are sociable but work hard.
“We are keen to get people of all levels singing, regardless if they’ve got previous experience or not. Singing is an activity that has significant health benefits and I know our group members feel that when we sing.”
The benefits of group singing is something which has been recently recognised by world-renowned American author Danial H Pink, who is mainly famed for writing best-sellers on the subjects of work, management and behavioural science.
However his latest work, ‘When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’, which was released in January of this year, unearths the hidden secrets about the benefits of choir singing.
Pink writes: “Choral singing calms the heart and boosts endorphin levels. It improves lung function. It increases pain thresholds and reduces the need for pain medication."
It is also claimed that singing can boost mood, self-esteem and concentration, while alleviating feelings of stress, depression and can even cure snoring by strengthening throat and palate muscles!
With so many possible benefits to singing, Patrick’s message is a clear one. “Anyone interested should certainly come along and give it a try!” he said.
“We cover a wide variety of styles including classical, gospel and contemporary (musicals). All singers are given sheet music with lyrics and are taught by ear, so it is not a problem if you don’t read music either.
“The group includes both men and women of differing ages and abilities. So if you want to come and enjoy singing in a welcoming community, then this choir is for you.”
YMCA Club’s Community Choir runs in approximately 12 week cycles. The next term starts on Friday 13th April 2018 at 6pm in the George Williams Room at YMCA Club, Great Russell Street. For more information, or to join the group email Declan Duncan or speak to the Reception team.