'Mood changer': Bridgnorth choir director highlights benefits of song
The leading light of more than half a dozen choirs throughout the West Midlands has highlighted the power of song to tackle spiralling negative thoughts and anxiety.
Singing not only tames stress, but also lifts spirits and releases endorphins that reduce stress and anxiety – and professional chorister Simon Whitmore, from Bridgnorth, said he has experienced this first hand for the last 20 years.
The musical director of seven choirs throughout the West Midlands including three in Bridgnorth, Mr Whitmore said just an hour can make a world of difference.
"Having worked with adult and children’s choirs over many years, I have seen the impact that an hour of singing can have on people’s moods," he said.
"There have been so many occasions where people have come up to me after a rehearsal and said that they felt down or lethargic before singing and how much they had enjoyed the hour and how it had changed their mood.
"Here in Bridgnorth we are lucky to have such fantastic choirs and it is great to be involved with so many different people from such diverse backgrounds and ages. Rehearsals can be so joyous and uplifting and the networks that are created and friendships that are made over time can be transformative in someone’s life.”
Leonie Hill, who has been singing in the Bridgnorth Show Choir and the Bridgnorth Gospel and Soul Choir for more than three years, said following personal hardships, getting involved with singing was life changing.
She said: "I’d had a few bad years with bereavement, estrangement from family and a loss of contact with friends but being part of the choir has changed all that. I am back to being happy and have regained my confidence and I’m having great fun with my new friends. I love it.”
Christine Lannigan, who sings in the Bridgnorth Pop Choir, Show Choir and Gospel Choir, added: “Although luckily I was not affected by mental health issues at the time I joined the choir, I was at a low ebb having lost mum and retiring from work. Choir provided me with a new focus and shared experience. The other positive is the improvement to my asthma condition greatly, helped by breathing control, as verified by my GP.”
Mr Whitmore added: “I’m on a mission to get as many people singing as possible. The positive aspects of being in a choir are just incredible. New friends, being part of something community orientated and doing something physical that is good for you. The choirs that I conduct also raise money for local charities and good causes and last year we raised more than £6,000. This gives people a tremendous sense of achievement.”
There are three choirs run by Mr Whitmore in Bridgnorth. More information can be found at the-music-hub.co.uk or by calling 07904556763.