Phoene Cave

Wanted: Singing for Lung Health leaders!

Funded by the British Lung Foundation, Singing for Lung Health leaders take music into hospital wards, teaching and encouraging patients with reduced lung function to sing, as well as working with outpatients in community settings. From the first Singing for Breathing group in at the Royal Brompton eight years ago, there are now fifty Singing for Lung Health groups across the UK.

Phoene Cave explains how Singing for Breathing has evolved in her blog post ‘Singing for Breathing‘, but the impact that such groups can have can be summed up as follows:

For so many patients, the Singing for Breathing sessions helped them overcome a fear of expressing themselves this way. They opened their upper bodies to feel the breath moving them through the song and releasing unnecessary muscular tension […] They were low in energy and mood, curled up in their beds in the dark. After the session, they had shining eyes and smiles on their faces; improved eye contact, laughter and tears were all common, as was the realization that they could relax into the singing and find a middle ground between a desire for stillness and inertia versus overexertion. Somewhere within the joint music-making came appropriate effort, that was reflected in the easing and calming of the breath and its power to gently drive them through songs they loved.

Bristol has no Singing for Lung Health group, and so the Bristol Life of Breath team is now recruiting three potential group leaders, with the aim of setting up a Life of Breath Singing for Lung Health singing group that provides COPD patients (as well as their families and medics) with the means to improve their lung function, make friends and take joy from what they are doing. Although some recruitment might take place in a hospital setting, this will be community-based work, with outpatients.

The Life of Breath project and the BLF will fund the new group for the first few months of its existence, which includes £50 per week as a fee for the singing leader, plus up to £50 per week to cover overheads such as photocopying and travel. Training with Phoene is scheduled for February 4th & 5th, in London (travel expenses of up to £100 per person will be covered). We are looking for confident singing teachers, community choir leaders and/or music therapists who have:

  1. the ability to deliver some simple physical and vocal warm-up exercises, and a core of accessible repertoire that can be taught by ear; and
  2. the initiative and administrative skills to develop a group that will be sustainable after the first six months of funding.

Ideally, we would prefer candidates with knowledge of the basic anatomy and physiology of the respiratory and vocal mechanism, and the appropriate structural support for optimum singing, but these are not essential skills at this stage. There are three places available for training, and it is envisaged that if more than one candidate completes the training successfully, all the successful candidates will co-operate in the running of the choir, as a team.

If you would like to express an interest in training as a Singing for Lung Health leader, please contact Jess, the Bristol Life of Breath Project Manager by January 12th, on epjpd@bristol.ac.uk.

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