Beating the Blues through group singing
I am one of the volunteers with Beating the Blues, a community singing group set up by Portsmouth Voices.
It was set up for anyone who wants to sing to lift their spirits.
People come for a variety of reasons and then continue coming along because of the positive impact it has.
Community singing has existed in cultures across the world for centuries and we are carrying on that tradition.
We meet every Wednesday in Eastney Community Centre, Bransbury Park.
Today is our fifth birthday and we are delighted that the deputy Lord Mayor of Portsmouth, Councillor Lee Mason, is coming to share our celebration.
In the five years of Beating the Blues, more than 400 people have taken part.
On average, 20 to 25 of us sing every week.
As well as our regular Wednesday morning sessions we have also taken Beating the Blues into the community to other groups and residential care homes.
We usually have two singing leaders who are both experienced community workshop leaders and trained Natural Voice practitioners.
Alongside our singing leaders there is also a group of dedicated volunteers who make everyone feel welcome, help set up the room, make the tea, and are always there to lend an ear if needed.
We run for 50 weeks of the year, only closing for the two weeks over the Christmas holiday when the community centre is closed.
Some people come for a couple of weeks, some for a few months, and some people have been coming since we started.
Others come now and then, when they can, or when they need a little lift.
We are a very diverse bunch of people, with no upper age limit.
Last November we celebrated one participant’s 90th birthday.
The doors open at 10.30am and we have a good old chat over a cuppa and cakes and biscuits.
We start singing officially at 11am, though we have been known to burst into the odd spontaneous song when someone comes in humming a tune. We start with a vocal and physical warm up and a welcome song.
Our songs come from all around the world, including English traditional songs and popular songs, native American songs, Maori songs, and African songs, often in the original language.
There is a lot of call-and-response songs, and two and three part rounds and harmonies.
There is no music reading, it’s all about listening and singing and being in the moment.
People tell me it makes the world of difference to them, and helps when they are down, are feeling isolated, or struggling with their health.
To find out more, call (023) 9281 1802 or go to portsmouthvoices.blogspot.co.uk.