Harmony Choir performs at Christmas
A unique community choir created by one of our PhD students is spreading Christmas cheer in Edinburgh.
The Harmony Choir has been rehearsing and performing since 2016, and now they will be singing carols in the wards of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital and Midlothian Community Hospital as well raising funds for mental health charities at other events.
We’re delighted to have been invited to join other choirs and musicians at Light Night. Our research has shown that making music together can improve people's wellbeing and sense of connectedness so I'm sure this event will be a positive and fun experience for everyone involved.
Liesbeth Tip, who’s studying for doctorate in Clinical Psychology at the University, started the choir as a project to investigate whether choral singing improves people’s mental health and to raise awareness of the stigma surrounding mental health. About 50 people from the University and the wider community, with and without mental health issues, joined the choir and at each rehearsal were asked to rate their mood and sense of wellbeing, as well as other factors.
People with mental health issues often feel isolated and inferior,” Liesbeth explains, and others with little experience of these issues can make unrealistic assumptions about how the symptoms affect people.
No one apart from Liesbeth knew who had mental health issues so members got to know each other without any preconceptions. The research results showed that singing in a choir does have a positive effect on members’ psychological wellbeing and on attitudes towards mental health. At the end of the rehearsal period, the choir won huge applause when they sang at Edinburgh’s Just Festival in 2016.
Members bonded through their singing and decided to continue to meet and sing together. Rehearsals are quite informal and lots of fun as the choir tackles a repertoire of traditional and contemporary songs arranged by Ben Jones, their talented Musical Director.
The initial project was funded through an Innovative Initiative Grant from the University’s alumni donors – a scheme which allows researchers to trial new ideas in any area from sport to arts, from medicine to literature.
Join the Harmony Choir
The Harmony Choir meets on Monday evenings at a venue near Tollcross; no experience is necessary and no audition is required for new members wishing to join.