Check out this lovely video of our choir at Morden College!
What does the choir mean to me? How can one find the words to truly explain what happens to the heart and soul when we sing together? Our choir is healing, it is restorative, it is spiritual. We become a united group of people wanting to express ourselves through music. It makes me feel liberated from the stresses of life, it gives me an hour a week of communal pleasure with other residents.
A group of people who are not instinctive singers ... or who have not sung for decades. What could possibly go wrong? As it happens, not much. It's fun, it's teamwork, it gets the brain working ... and after the weeks of practice there's actually a result! Uplifting stuff.
Artistic Director, Mairéad Sheerin, has run a choir for Morden College residents since 2017. The College and Conservatoire are both historic landmarks and community hubs of Blackheath village, although Morden College’s 300 years in existence is double our own impressive record! According to the residents, the choir is the longest running activity from an external provider.
We know that music promotes well-being - it has the power to move, to relax, to energise, to console and singing is particularly beneficial for improving breathing, posture and muscle tension. When we sing, the neurochemical β-endorphin, a natural painkiller responsible for the ‘high’ experienced after intense exercise, is released. This, alongside dopamine and serotonin, leads directly to an improved mood. The stress hormone, cortisol, is reduced and the Immunoglobin A antibody is boosted – these factors lead to sustaining a healthy immune system.
Learning new songs is also cognitively stimulating and helps the memory so can aid those suffering dementia. Socially too, there is more and more evidence suggesting that our social connections can play a role in maintaining our health.
The choir has gone from strength to strength and now numbers over 30 singers from residents and staff. Members were delighted to return to communal singing after Covid.
Here are just a few lovely quotes from choir members:
Singing has become much more popular since Covid, especially for members of choirs who were forced to "singalongazoom" in living rooms, maybe with a handy cup of coffee. Thanks goodness we can now meet "live" and sing our hearts out.
I was thrilled to discover on moving to Morden College, that there was a choir. With the help of Blackheath Conservatoire we have been able to make music together. We are a friendly bunch where nobody is auditioned to join or turned away. Singing is for anyone and everyone, we can ALL sing, even if not always in tune. We have performed a few times each year, growing more confident and taking great pleasure in showing what we can do. From Verdi to McCartney, we have an eclectic mix of repertoire.
We are all very grateful to Mairead and Micah for their help week on week. Their patience, kindness and humour help to make this the highlight of my week. Singing is FREE, yet it has amazing medicial advantages for our better mental health. Above all, Morden College Choir is, quite simply, GREAT FUN