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Singing the rainbow for mental health

New project has mental health benefits

Singing the rainbow for mental health

"We will help you find your voice in our weekly sessions that promise laughter, escapism and friendship."
Rebecca McGarvie

A new singing project will raise the spirits and bring a little colour into the Coalfields area of Sunderland this summer. ‘Voices of the Rainbow’ is the latest in a series of projects by Durham based social enterprise The Singing Elf and is aimed at improving the mental and emotional wellbeing of the adults taking part. 

Funded by Sunderland City Council, ‘Voices of the Rainbow’ will be packed with fun, heart-warming songs that will put a smile on your face. Led by vocal tutors Rebecca McGarvie and Sinead Livingston, singers will enjoy learning music inspired by the magic of a rainbow, which has been such a symbol of hope to so many over the last year. From old favourites such as ‘Let’s Go Fly a Kite’ or ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’, to new songs that people may not know yet, ‘Voices of the Rainbow’ promises participants an uplifting, supportive and joyful singing experience.

Starting online on Zoom from Tuesday 8th June and moving to in-person sessions when regulations allow, the weekly singing sessions are ideal for adults who have always wanted to give singing a go but didn’t think they could. 

The Singing Elf founder Rebecca said, “We all know that starting something new can be a little scary, but it’s also exciting. We make a special effort to help everyone feel welcome – even people who aren’t even sure they can sing are encouraged to come along. We will help you find your voice in our weekly sessions that promise laughter, escapism and friendship.”

Online singing was almost unheard of before the pandemic but has seen a surge over the last year. Although very different from going to a rehearsal room each week, singing over the internet has some clear advantages, especially for anyone nervous about singing with other people. As Rebecca explains, “Online, no one can hear you sing. We use recordings to sing along to, and you can hear myself or Sinead, but everyone else is on mute.” 

The health benefits of singing have been well publicised recently. As well as helping with breathing, posture, and general fitness, singing also boosts stress busting endorphins, eases anxiety and strengthens the immune system – all things that are important to many people as the country starts to come out of lockdown.

Sunderland City Council's Executive Director of Neighbourhoods, Fiona Brown, said, “Covid-19 and the related social restrictions may have presented challenges to many of the city’s residents, as they have been unable to see friends and family or take part in their usual hobbies and activities. As a council we are delighted to fund projects such as The Singing Elf as part of the Covid Mental Health Wellbeing Programme, which supports the many fantastic groups who work hard to ensure people across the city have the support they need.” 

‘Voices of the Rainbow’ takes place on Tuesday evenings, starting at 7.30pm on 8th June. The sessions are free, and can be booked through The Singing Elf website – www.thesingingelf.co.uk/rainbow.  


Photo: Rebecca (front left) and Sinead (front right) at Penshaw with some of the singers (Highlights PR) 

Key Information:
FREE, although donations can be made | Funded by Sunderland City Council but open to all
WHEN: Tuesdays 7.30-9pm | WHERE: Online to start with until regulations allow in-person singing
HOW: Book at www.thesingingelf.co.uk/rainbow or call 0191 3721682 



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