New youth choir established at St John’s to focus on wellbeing

Youth choir being launched by Edinburgh University port-graduates for young people aged 13-18
Youth choir being launched by Edinburgh University port-graduates for young people aged 13-18
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Gathered together to test the acoustics of St John’s Church in the city centre is a new youth choir with a focus on wellbeing.

Take Note! set up by Edinburgh University researcher Liesbeth Tip was formed to help young people and their mental health.

Ms Tip said there was increasing evidence that singing in a choir was good for wellbeing, health and mental health.

She said: “We want to see if singing in a choir helps young people’s wellbeing, connectedness and sense of belonging in a group.

“We want to study the effects singing in a choir will have and find the best ways to optimise opportunities for young people to have positive experiences while participating in a 
choir.”

The choir, which started three weeks ago, welcomes budding singers aged 12 to 21 from all over Edinburgh. They can turn up to any of the bi-weekly rehearsals in the church.

Although not compulsory, members of the Take Note! choir will perform in St John’s as part of the Fringe’s Just Festival on August 3 and 4.

Previous studies have found singing helps with breathing, reduces stress and improves mood. It can lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and can act as a natural painkiller. Singing together can also promote relaxation and boost self-confidence, promote self-expression and empower people, but most research has so far been aimed at adults.

Gwenn McCreath, chief executive of local mental health charity Health in Mind, said: “We know that our mental health and wellbeing is influenced by a wide range of factors; diet, exercise, helping and connecting with others and looking after ourselves. Investing in the wellbeing of young people can help build and maintain their resilience as young people move into adulthood.

“The solutions aren’t necessarily ground-breaking or high-cost projects, but rather events and groups like Take Note!, which brings people together to have fun, make connections, and offering an opportunity to take part in activities, which is enjoyable in itself and promotes relaxation.”

Choir member Eva Tarsia, 14, loves singing. She said: “I find that performing by yourself, there’s only so far you can go, whereas in a choir there are endless possibilities.

“Singing in a choir is an open and non-judgemental environment where everyone is there to support each other and therefore receive incredible results, not only in the form of the music, which is being made, but also in that you will always come out of a rehearsal feeling like you have found another part of yourself. You are at peace with the world and you have a true sense of purpose.

“I think mental health awareness in young people is very important and although we are making progress I still feel like there could be more support and less stigma.”