Tag Archives: Oxford

Singing benefits health and wellbeing:
even scientists say so

There’s nothing like the backing of scientists to give credence to something we may already believe in. So, it is with great glee that I can report that Oxford scientists have been studying groups of people taking part in creative activities, including singing, and found that the mental and physical health of all participants had improved by the end of their courses. The group members also reported feeling more satisfaction with their lives as a result of taking part.

For seven months scientists from the University of Oxford followed 135 adults enrolled on art, creative writing and singing courses. At the end of the courses the participants reported noticing a boost in their happiness – in particular when it came to confidence and life satisfaction – and felt more active, even if their course did not include physical activity or promote exercise.

Lead researcher, Dr Eiluned Pearce, said that participants felt that the classes ‘broadened their network of friends and gave them an increased sense of belonging,’ and added, ‘We found that the more someone felt part of their group, the more their health and wellbeing improved.’

From a social aspect, it would seem that singing in particular is a great way to make friends, since those that took part in singing activities developed relationships with their classmates more quickly than those in the other groups.

An extension of this form of study is due to be run by the Centre for Performance Science, a joint venture between the Royal College of Music and Imperial College London. The research project, which has been awarded a grant of £1 million from the Arts and Humanities Research Council, will specifically investigate the link between artistic pursuits, such as joining a choir, and the health and wellbeing of society. Co-investigator of the study, Professor Robert Perneczky, said: ‘We are interested in what hidden benefits the arts and culture may have in terms of improving health. If there are tangible benefits, there may be a case to be made for integrating them more fully within social and health services.’ The interesting thing about this study is that it aims to look deeper into the reasons these activities have such a positive effect on us. Principal investigator, Professor Aaron Williamon, has said: ‘We are keen to discover not only the effects of culture on health and happiness, but why those effects happen. For example, joining a choir after work may improve your health, but is that the result of socialising, creating something or a combination of the two?’








New Year, New You…

New Year, New You…

In our Oxford city location, we have now hosted our first four singing and drama classes of 2017, and what a happy, positive and sociable experience it has been.

New year, new you, and all that jazz. At Open Stage Arts we don’t need to reinvent ourselves, but new elements recently added to the mix undoubtedly improve the great concept, of a fun, pressure-free performing arts experience for adults, we have already established.

New location

First, there’s our new location. Rose Hill Community Centre is a great facility. The rooms we have our classes in are bright, clean and fresh, with big windows that help create an atmosphere conducive to creativity and expression. But it is not just the building that makes for a happy new home: the staff within the space complete the picture. As well as taking bookings and dealing with enquiries, getting rooms ready and generally ‘being there’ if we need them, everyone at the centre is friendly, helpful and supportive. Here it feels as though we are a part of a community, not just a group that rents a room.

New teachers

This year we have once again increased our pool of fabulous instructors, to give the ‘students’ the most varied experience we can. The teachers are professional actors, writers, directors and vocal coaches that have so much knowledge and experience to share with us. I want the sessions across the whole term to be interesting, diverse and enlightening. The individual teachers bring that diversity in spades, while at the same time complementing each other’s teaching methods and specialties.

Best of all, new ‘students’

We have also had the pleasure of welcoming many new ‘students’ to the sessions. It is good to know that I am not the only person who thinks that dabbling in singing and drama activities for fun is a good idea. Men and women of all ages have signed up for taster sessions and given us a go. Some come for the social aspect, some just to have fun; some have enjoyed drama at school or even had professional training, others have never done anything like this before; some people want to improve their voice – for speaking as well as singing – others want to boost their confidence; but all are keen to try something new.

On arrival, the majority of participants have not known another soul in the room, but after just a few minutes an outsider wouldn’t guess that to be the case. An instructor who is initially surrounded by a circle of nervous/excited/confident/terrified faces soon has the group knowing everybody’s names, joining in with all manner of activities and acting like they have known each for years. In the last two weeks we have been tied up in knots (literally), told each other ‘I love you’ and ‘Make the tea’, sung in Finnish and Ghanaian, and in three-part harmonies, written haikus and played ‘It’ in slow motion. It really has been the most amount of fun.