Whether your chosen singing spot is on a stage or in the shower, most of us would agree that belting out your favourite songs at the top of your lungs is a great way to de-stress and feel good. The North East’s Rock Choir is taking advantage of music's benefits to mark World Mental Health Day on 10 October, and lending a helping hand to the 1 in 4 people in the UK who suffer from a mental health condition each year. As well as performing fun and uplifting songs all week, they’re inviting old and new members for a ‘tea and talk’ to raise money for the cause, and help people open up about their personal struggles in a friendly community.
Musician Caroline Redman Lusher pioneered the Rock Choir movement over 10 years ago to give fans of pop, rock and chart music the opportunity to sing together, and since then it’s bagged three Guinness World Records, and was the star of ITV documentary, The Choir That Rocks. Not only does Caroline’s revolutionary idea offer popular music-lovers who don’t read music the chance to enjoy all the perks of a traditional choir, it also provides you with a cathartic means of letting out tension from your personal life, and letting in the happiness that singing instantly provides. This is exactly why the choir’s been busy spreading their positivity to the public with local charity fundraising events across the country.
This week, they’re raising money for World Mental Health Day which focuses on mental health in the workplace, and local Rock Choir Leader Rob Slater is confident that singing has already boosted morale amongst the 400 members of his choirs in Chester le Street, Durham, Hexham, Newcastle, Ponteland and Sunderland. ‘As I lead the choir, I feel their energy,’ he says. ‘If someone wasn't smiling when they came in the door, maybe after a long day at work, they most certainly are when they leave at the end of their session. Singing is clearly very therapeutic’.
Many choir members have already experienced the life-changing power of performance, like Isobel Pyner who joined Ponteland’s Rock Choir when she was going through a tough time due to an unpleasant divorce. ‘Joining the choir was the best thing that I have ever done for myself,’ she says. Learning the lyrics, dance moves and harmonies of dozens of songs has helped me increase my concentration; the controlled breathing is an amazing stress release and the sheer joy of making a beautiful sound with others is priceless. Remarkably, she’s never left a rehearsal feeling sad. ‘I stride out cheerfully, singing at the top of my voice’.
Based on Isobel’s experience, there doesn’t seem to be a better and more inspiring way to spend World Mental Health Day. If you agree, head to the Rock Choir website to book your free 90-minute taster session in the region this week – there are no entry auditions so you’ll be welcomed into their community with open arms no matter your vocal ability.