Using voices is good for the body and the mind

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It’s the most basic of instruments, but the human voice is capable of great things. Listening to a favourite song or singer can make our hearts soar, while learning to use our own vocal cords can also bring great satisfaction and contentment.

But perhaps too many of us are unaware of the potential that lies within us.

Maybe we sing in the bath or along with the radio on the way to work, but have never performed in public – except maybe as one of the Pompey faithful roaring on their team at Fratton Park.

So it’s good to see that inspirational choirmaster Gareth Malone and the military wives he mentored on TV have sparked something of a boom in choirs.

More and more people, having seen what can be achieved, are coming forward to have a go themselves.

As we report today, people like Jan Bailey and Liz Phelan had been put off by having to stand in front of strangers and audition to join a choir.

But watching The Choir: Military Wives convinced them that they too could stand up and sing.

Now they and other members of the Portsmouth Chorus are preparing to perform in front of the Lord Mayor of Portsmouth at a big gala dinner on Monday to mark the bicentenary of Charles Dickens’s birth.

Musical director Rod Starr talks of the pleasure and satisfaction of learning songs and performing them in harmony with other members. Rod says his singers are all happy people.

He explains: ‘It gives you such a strong sense of well-being. It’s a great feeling being in a large choir, making a contribution, and learning the arrangement.

‘In front of an audience you really feel like you’ve made something.’

As well as friendship and that feelgood factor, there are also health reasons for singing. It’s good for you because it teaches you to breathe properly.

We know times are hard. But with so many benefits, we believe councils ought to be looking where possible to offer financial support to choirs as an important part of our social fabric.