Guest blog written by Bella, who runs the brilliant Raise Your Voice Family Choir (for parents and children age 4-11) and Moms and Pops Choir (for parents and babies/bumps)…
I started writing this blog on Blue Monday. I’m sure you heard of it, the third Monday in January when we are supposedly at our most miserable – money is tight, the days are dark and all the Christmas chocolate has run out. My social media feed was full of people telling me how to cheer myself up, as well as people commenting on the fact that the day was originally made up by a company to sell more products and is actually based on complete fake science.
Either way, January can be hard. However, it’s still a time of change and promise, with thousands and thousands of us making resolutions, changes and commitments to wellbeing. For me, starting yoga one January changed my life. For you and your family, it might just be singing.
A common theme amongst conversations I have with parents is that they just don’t have enough time to do things for their own wellbeing while juggling work and childcare. That’s the problem I wanted to tackle when I started my first Raise Your Voice Family Choir in 2017.
Based on mountains of research that show the benefits of singing in a choir for adults, as well as the musical and social benefits for children, I ran an 8-week project at my school. I invited parents and carers to come and sing with their children, and tracked their happiness, attachment and feelings of creativity.
The results were really promising, with two thirds of parents saying they felt happier and closer to their children after just eight weeks of singing, and that’s when I knew we were on to something special.
There are so many aspects to our wellbeing, and many ways to work on improving it. In the pilot projects and in our sessions since September, I’ve been lucky enough to see how singing together can:
create and build friendships for adults and children
provide protected ‘us-time’ for families
develop musical skills for all involved – no music reading skill or singing experience is necessary
These are all valuable steps to improving and maintaining wellbeing.
A year on from the end of the first pilot project, I’m running a second round of research involving our current members. This is extra exciting with the addition of our Moms & Pops members, parents of babies – a group that wasn’t represented in the original research. I’m looking forward to finding out if they feel similar benefits to our members with older children.
There are many reasons people join Raise Your Voice. Some parents sang in choirs before their children arrived, some come because their children are the ones who love to sing. Lots of families enjoy warbling together at home or in the car and would like to do the same in a group while meeting new people.
Moms & Pops Choir gives new parents a much-needed chance to do something for themselves. Now Raise Your Voice is running regular sessions in Oxford, I’m really looking forward to continuing research into how singing and playing together can help make families closer, stronger and happier through engaging in ‘us-time’. I’d love to see you soon to join our journey!
All choir times/places are listed on Mumbler here.
Oxford Mumbler is your local parenting community – a website packed with information for pregnancy and for families in and around Oxford. Visit oxford.mumbler.co.uk for everything from what’s on, days out, weekly clubs and classes in Oxford, to support groups and services for pregnancy, babies, parents and more. Join the Mumbler community on our friendly Facebook chat group and follow us on Facebook and Instagram