Sing with Us
Sing with Us is a network of 15 fun, uplifting and friendly choirs open to anyone affected by cancer. We caught up with Rosie Dow, manger of the Tenovus project to find out more.
“What could be better than giving people a nice time when they had been through such a hard time?” Rosie Dow
Having been involved in choirs all of her life, Rosie has a deep understanding of the sense of achievement, support and fun that being part of a choir can bring. Rosie started working as manager of Sing with Us in 2012 and has built up a team of nine professional musicians who lead choirs across Wales.
Sing with Us started life as a research project; the cancer charity Tenovus wanted to find out whether singing could help cancer patients and their families. The pilot study in 2010 showed promising results, indicating that singers experienced an improved quality of life. These findings were used to successfully apply for £1m of Lottery funding to roll out 15 choirs across Wales.
Membership has reached almost 850 and a Sing with Us choir can be found in every Health Board area in Wales. Members include patients, survivors, carers and those bereaved through cancer.
Rehearsals are designed to be accessible to as many people as possible – there’s no requirement to read music and they are run in a fun, energising way with a focus on support and laughter. Rosie points out that there’s also plenty of tea and time to talk; half an hour at the beginning of each session is dedicated to a socialising.
Public performances play an important role in the life of the choir, they give the rehearsals a focus and working towards a shared goal helps build the choir as a team. This past year the choirs have performed over 100 times, from shop openings and bake sales to a 450-strong choir at the Wales Millennium Centre!
Tenovus are running a large-scale study to measure whether being part of the choirs is improving singers’ wellbeing – and the data is already showing statistically significant reductions in depression, anxiety and perception of pain. Meanwhile, qualitative research results tell the story behind the numbers; that the choirs provide a real community, a vital support network and an identity other than cancer.
“I was quite shy before my first choir practice, but I didn’t stay quiet and reserved for long. The amazing welcome, shared understanding of what I was experiencing, and positive vibes and support made me feel so glad that I’d gone.” Cathy, choir member
Find out more about Sing with Us on the Tenovus website.