Over the first few years of the choir, we’ve heard many stories from choir members about how the choir has affected their lives. We’ve been truly moved by these and are very pleased to be able to share a few here.
“In 2013 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to decline a space in the summer term due to undergoing chemotherapy. When a space came up for the autumn term, I took the plunge and signed up. Thank goodness I did. After being confined to my home for months due to the side effects of chemo, joining the choir was an absolute tonic. It forced me to get up and go meet new people, learn new things and make myself presentable to get out there. I remember, after the first sessions I was absolutely exhausted walking home from the bus stop. I mean exhausted. I felt I was dragging myself home. However, as the weeks went by and the treatment stopped, things eased. My breathing was better which helped my stamina. My confidence grew so much that by the time the next term started in January 2014 I stopped wearing a wig even though my hair was incredibly short and grey!! It might sound corny but the choir healed me a little.”
“I have Bipolar Disorder type II. I am open about my diagnosis and I feel very strongly about encouraging hope in others who may be struggling with recovery. I think it is important to use opportunities to dispel misunderstandings regarding mental illness and share the positive actions you can take to stay well, which brings me to the choir! The music, company and laughter shared have been enormously beneficial for my mental health and improving my short term memory.”
“I joined the Love Music Community Choir in February 2013 when the choir was being set up for the first time. At that time I had been looking for an outlet for my interests in choral singing. I wanted something that was not too demanding but at the same time I wanted it to be challenging. I am a full time carer for my husband who is very disabled with progressive MS and who needs total physical and emotional support. I am on call 24/7 and so any time that I take for myself has to fulfil many needs, fun, enjoyment, stimulation, learning, social, etc. Love Music Community Choir fulfils all of these and more.
How does it do this? First and foremost there is an atmosphere of relaxed fun during rehearsal. No one is made to feel that they cannot keep up; the ethos is one of encouragement that everyone can sing. People respond to this message and give their best in return. At the same time there is no compromise on musicality. The standard set is high and even those who have some musical training can be challenged by what is expected of us. It’s a winning combination and has provided me with something from which I can learn and that is highly enjoyable and always worth the effort that it takes to get there each week. In the early days I would have to creep in the back at the start of rehearsal and fly out at the end, in order to get home in time to help put my husband to bed. In spite of this, I have made friends and feel very much a part of the Love Music community. Nowadays I pay carers to come to the house in my absence and it’s well worth the investment.
The choir has led me to want to take my interests in music further. For a long time I have wanted to know more about music theory, so I found a free online course that I could study at night. This in turn led me to study song writing and the history of classical music, also online. More to the point, my return to choral singing has inspired me to want to tackle an emotional block that has affected my voice for many years. Full of renewed enthusiasm and with the help of a grant from a carers’ short breaks fund, I sought help, took up singing lessons and in the process, shed many a tear! However the long-term goal is a much freer, stronger voice and just to have started on this journey gives me a self-confidence and purpose that pervades many aspects of my life.
The caring role can take its toll on even the strongest of people and singing is well known to be a very valuable emotional outlet. Music and song, as practised by the Love Music team, Stephen, Dave, Ruth and Hannah, is uplifting, fun and a true ‘cradle for the soul’. Thank you all!”
“The last two years have been very difficult for me what with one thing and another. Two “life events” – moving to a new city and divorce as well as a long term health condition and losing my job (as my ex husband and I were business partners). I joined LMCC after “trying out” two other choirs (no contest!) and was immediately made very welcome. I have met lovely, cheery folk every week and forget my troubles for a couple of hours. I have made some very good friends, and even reconnected with one that I knew 23 years ago!! My brain has been stretched, I have learned masses and achieved more than I thought possible. My choir friends have been so supportive; every rehearsal is fun, uplifting, demanding and joyous. If I am feeling fed up, I have discovered that listening to the sound files from last week’s rehearsal cheers me up, just hearing the laughs as well as our wonderful singing.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to LMCC for giving me back my confidence, my smile and improving my health and emotional wellbeing.”
“I do have a story, a long one, so bear with me! I am asthmatic and while I had long wished to join a choir, I never felt this was possible. I had done music and drama training when I was younger, both school and university, but my voice and breathing (not to mention my complete lack of rhythm!) were a problem. Well, I still have the complete lack of rhythm, but my voice and breathing have improved a bit (long story) and so I thought I might try some singing. I joined Singing for Fun last year (Council Adult Education), my husband and I had by that stage had more than a year of personal crisis (more of that later) and I felt the need for something else completely unconnected with this situation. I really enjoyed it, the teacher was great, but I felt the class was too small. But it was good to give me some confidence. A friend mentioned the Love Music Community Choir and I put my name down. I was able to start in the Autumn term last year, am now in my third term, and feeling a bit more confident.
The story with my husband goes back a couple of years: he retired a couple of years ago and then was diagnosed with kidney cancer in January 2013, he had the kidney removed, apparently successfully, and while he is still having tests (CT today for example), we are hoping that that may work out. However, in May last year he developed neurological symptoms, it took 6 months for the diagnosis to be achieved, finally though an MRI, and he was diagnosed in September with a cavernoma on his neck. Benign, but it may develop further symptoms which are very severe. We finally saw the neurosurgeon in January this year and the news was not good: the only options are high risk surgery or live with what amounts to the Sword of Damocles (almost literally) until we decide he should have the surgery or until the next neurological event happens.
Anyway, this is all very stressful, there are times when either one or both of us is just hysterical, and so coming to the choir is such a great thing: it is both relaxing and stimulating, I find singing quite hard and that takes my mind off everything. Stephen is so patient, kind and amusing, as well as asking us to do our best. People are very friendly and the ethos of the choir is such that it tends to remain a bit less cliquey and particular (I am trying to think of a polite way of putting it) than it might otherwise be.”
“I moved back to Edinburgh to look after my very elderly father. The choir has been my time off and I love it – it lets me come back and tell him all about it and bring him news from the outside world. We had a real triumph when we managed to get him to a concert, the first time he had been out of the house in months. He enjoyed it and afterwards was more communicative than he had been for ages.”
“My interest is very much the mental health angle; I’m not surprised that you have had some stories along these lines. I am a former mental health nurse and worked with people with dementia through Alzheimer Scotland. I have always felt passionately about the ability of music to touch people in a way that other forms of communication cannot.
My particular interest is depression. I lost Mum to suicide 6 years ago and have experienced depression myself, though in no way comparable to Mum’s lifelong battle. My eclectic iPod playlist ranging from Elgar to The Proclaimers helped me through the very difficult time after Mum’s death.
I feel very strongly that singing is a powerful strategy in fighting depression, as is borne out by clinical evidence. I’ve sung in a wide variety of choirs during my life. I used to work on Iona and every week we used to rehearse in the Piano Loft in the Abbey; an amazing space. I never thought I would find as magical a musical experience again but LMCC has given me that. Like my staff singing on Iona, it has become my “therapy”, a non- negotiable time for me (and for which I even re-scheduled my knitting group!).
Stephen, Ruth, Dave and Hannah are responsible for a very special experience. Thank you.”