Concert illustrates health-giving benefits of singing

Singing for Pleasure, which has been running successfully in Brighton, Hove and Southwick for five years under musical director Simon Gray, will show its skills on Saturday, September 10 in a concert at Portslade Town Hall at 2.30pm.

As Simon, who has been involved in the musical scene for more than 30 years, explains: “Singing for Pleasure Goes to the Movies offers a programme of songs that have featured in films and film musicals. There will also be a Last Night of the Proms finale in which the audience will be invited to join in and wave union jacks!

“SFP is delighted to announce that Loren Bennett will be one of the soloists. Fifteen year-old Loren, diagnosed with chronic anxiety and Asperger’s, has made astonishing progress in just a few months since joining Singing for Pleasure.

“Singing is now widely recognised as producing a whole host of health benefits, and it could be argued that singing should more broadly be part of everyday life. Singing, through the emotional experience of one’s feelings, has the power to alter and enhance the mood of the singer. Since ancient times singing has been considered a great healing tool as it can influence brain wave frequencies and promote well-being.

“Medical papers have now proved singing and listening to music helps relieve a large number of health conditions. It can lower blood pressure, ease depression, improve lung capacity, and help breathing as when you sing your lungs take in more oxygen. Joining a singing group helps make new friends which in turn helps the feel good factor.”

Simon is pleased to include Loren among the group’s success stories: “Loren had been suffering with chronic anxiety and had been diagnosed with Asperger’s. Loren is a gifted singer with an exceptional voice but singing in front of anyone, other than her voice teacher or parents, had become impossible for her. It was suggested that maybe she should come along to Singing for Pleasure and sing along with other people with no pressure to perform on her own.

“Loren (who lives in Rottingdean) came along with her mother to the Hove group and within a couple weeks she was feeling very comfortable singing and socialising with the other members – so much so that by week four Loren felt brave enough to get up and sing a solo! This was a huge breakthrough, and Loren has since gone on to perform solos with SFP on a weekly basis as well as taking part in concerts elsewhere, including a solo recital for family and friends. She also appeared in a concert at the Barn Theatre in Southwick alongside experienced professional performers from the world of musical theatre and opera.”

Loren’s mother Rebecca Bennett said: “Since being diagnosed with Asperger’s and chronic anxiety, we had really given up on her singing, but since coming to [SFP] she has made incredible progress, so much so she is now enjoying performing and socialising with the lovely group of people each week, both of which I never thought she would feel comfortable doing. I will definitely recommend Singing for Pleasure as a form of therapy for Asperger kids and adults.”

Simon added: “Also in the groups there are singers living with cancer, Lupus, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, all of whom find great comfort, relief and inspiration from singing in a friendly environment on a weekly basis. Indeed, several of them have even reported a distinct improvement in their conditions which they attribute to regular singing.

“If anyone is tempted to come and join SFP then come along to Portslade Town Hall to see what the group does. There is no upper age limit and there are no auditions. Song choices are taken from musical-theatre shows, some classical songs as well as some of the great standards. We also welcome song suggestions from the group members.”

Simon added: “Throughout the year there are Singing for Pleasure fund-raising events in support of local charities. Indeed, the group is happy to assist all charities by singing free of charge at suitable events. Please phone 01273 555089 for more information. SFP have supported events raising funds for The Martlets Hospice and Chestnut Tree House.”

Tickets from Robert Blass on 01273 555089 or singingforpleasure@hotmail.co.uk.

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