Singing for better breathing


The power of singing to improve breathing for people with lung disease was celebrated in eastern Rother on Monday July 3. Singers from “Singing for Better Breathing” groups in Camber and Rye Harbour joined a group in Winchelsea Beach at their village hall for a lunchtime concert, attended by family and friends.

The weekly groups were set up in April by The Music Well Community Interest Company with funding from Hastings and Rother Clinical Commissioning Group. The aim was to support people with lung conditions, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma. All groups have been ably led by local musician Sadie Hurley and the project has been evaluated by researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University. Monday’s concert marked the end of the project, but there are plans to continue one combined group from September supported by members’ contributions.

Speaking at the event, Professor Stephen Clift, Chair of the The Music Well, outlined the positive findings from the project. Of all singers with breathing difficulties, 95% reported improved breathing. Participants also reported improved mental wellbeing, and in some cases reductions in anxiety and the relief of depression. “Singing is an all round activity exercising the body and the mind and it brings people together to combate feelings of loneliness and isolation,” said Professor Clift.

Comments from participants in interviews highlight some of the benefits: “It made me think, do I need to use my puffer especially on music days, no I don’t, I’ll try some breathing exercises first,” said one.

“I didn’t realise how much more breath I have because [singing] makes you use all your lungs. Before I used to breath really shallowly,” said another.

A third participant saw singing as building on pulmonary rehabilitation provided by the NHS: “This is a good follow-on from an NHS course on breathing. The relaxation and breathing has helped to sort me out when I’m out of breath. I can relate this to everyday tasks, it makes a difference.”

A report and film on the project will be available soon. For further details please contact Di White, Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health, Canterbury Christ Church University, on 01303 220870.

Source: The Music Well

Photo: Courtesy The Music Well

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