- ‘Ageing Voices’ and ‘YouthSing Ireland’ aimed at ensuring older and younger generations continue singing during Covid-19 and beyond
- Singing offers range of physical and mental health benefits and helps improves sense of well-being and happiness
Sing Ireland, the organisation that develops, supports and promotes all forms of group singing across the island of Ireland, has unveiled a number of new initiatives to encourage all generations to continue singing and rehearsing safely during Covid-19 and beyond.
As face-to-face group singing is currently restricted during lockdown, Sing Ireland is encouraging all those interested in singing, regardless of their age or ability, to get involved in the new initiatives as studies show that singing – even virtually – provides a wide range of health benefits such as improving breathing, posture and muscle tension as well as lessening stress and anxiety. Singing has also been shown to improve our sense of well-being and happiness, all of which are now more important than ever due to the current Covid-19 pandemic.
In partnership with Creative Aging International and supported by the Creative Ireland Programme, the new ‘Ageing Voices’ initiative aims to encourage older singing enthusiasts to continue their musical passion during lockdown. Offering a range of tools and networking opportunities, participants have access to high quality training and events, as well as specialist advice on how to maintain and sustain their voice. Ageing Voices sees the creation of training aids and resource materials for older people, community choirs and care givers. This aims to remove barriers so that more singing can take place in care settings. Alongside this, the project offers training with highly respected musicians who are working in care or community settings with all sorts of singing group. The project reduces isolation by bringing the power of singing to the lives of those who may be cocooning during 2020.
Younger singers, meanwhile, can engage in the ‘YouthSing Ireland’ initiative which is focused on encouraging younger people interested in singing to connect with other singers. The programme aims to, over the coming years, provide group singing tuition and experience to every child and young person in Ireland. ‘YouthSing Ireland’ also seeks to contribute to the delivery of music education in schools as well as connecting to other school subjects, with a particular focus on the Irish language. Newly commissioned resources in the Irish language and of Irish cultural heritage have been commissioned. Sing Ireland is partnering with the National Children’s Choir as well as Folens Publishers in this work.
‘YouthSing Ireland’ has also created, the SingSpace – a space outside of formal education that can bring singers from various schools together with singers in youth choirs and conductors / composers / animateurs. Operating online during 2020, it is hoped, all going well, that the first face to face iterations will take place in 2021. The YouthSing Ireland programme is supported by the Creative Ireland programme.
Sing Ireland is based in the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance at the University of Limerick and leads a range of activities for singing groups across the country. As well as providing singers with the opportunity to meet other like-minded people, Sing Ireland also provides information and advice to members, organises singing days and workshops, and manages a library lending scheme of 14,000 pieces of Irish and other music. Sing Ireland is the parent organisation of the national Irish Youth Choirs. During the lockdown, Sing Ireland has also run a series of online events that support the group singing sector and which regularly saw hundreds of attendees. They also offer a range of training and support services to primary and secondary school teachers, as well as mentoring and masterclass opportunities to conductors and musicians.
Dermot O’Callaghan, CEO of Sing Ireland, says: “Singing is fun, therapeutic, social, and stimulating. What has become very clear during this pandemic is that singing is more important than ever to help keep spirits raised during this difficult time. So, while singing in groups is not allowed, there is no reason why people can’t access our on-line facilities and continue singing at home – or with others via virtual means.
“At Sing Ireland, we’re committed to working to find as many ways as possible to encourage more people to get involved and experience the positive impact singing can have on their health, wellbeing and overall creativity. That’s the reason we have developed these great new initiatives – and we look forward to as many people as possible getting involved to ensure that singing continues during Covid-19 and beyond.”
Sing Ireland’s website – www.singireland.ie – has more details about the initiatives and also lists singing groups across the country. Members include children’s choirs, workplace choirs, youth choirs, hospital and care home choirs, choir clubs, university choirs, church and cathedral choirs, choral societies, and choirs for those in older age or active retirement. Whether it’s singing popular hits, classical, jazz, Gregorian chant, hip-hop, gospel or folk – there is a group to suit everyone!
Sing Ireland was founded in 1980 and is a registered charity. The organisation is supported by The Arts Council of Ireland.