Online choirs thrive amid lockdown as uplifting community connections

Lockdown may have brought concerts and choir practice to a standstill, but in the face of isolation and adversity, people are turning to the power of song more than ever and virtual choirs are flourishing online.

In the UK, for instance, more than 1,000 NHS staff members from across the country have joined an online choir, called NHS Chorus-19, as a way to boost their wellbeing and connect with others.

Schools have also been running singing assemblies for pupils stuck at home, while online community choirs have enabled residents young and old to stay connected. In Essex, a 150-strong virtual choir has raised more than £26,000 to help fund accommodation, food, travel, and counseling for NHS staff, and a “couch choir” initiated in Australia has brought together more than 6,000 strangers from 45 countries.

For NHS staff under strain during the Covid-19 crisis, joining an online choir has become a welcome relief. “At first I did find singing alone a bit peculiar, but it’s actually been really freeing. You can just enjoy the music, enjoy singing and also enjoy being part of the community,” said Caroline Phillips, an anesthetic registrar.

Hull NHS choir, founded in 2014, changed its monthly rehearsals to weekly online sessions during the lockdown as it decided people would need the choir more. “I don’t think people expected to enjoy online rehearsals, but it’s quite freeing to be able to just sing with nobody judging you. And it gives people a sense of accomplishment,” said Lucy Vere, a co-founder of the choir.

These benefits are also backed up by science. According to Robin Dunbar, a professor at the University of Oxford, singing is a highly effective mood booster as it triggers the endorphin system in the brain, suppressing pain, while also making you feel at ease and relaxed.

He said while singing online is no substitute for the physical presence of communal singing, it was an effective “temporary sticking plaster”.

The virtual choirs can only pull together their voices through videos for now, but once the crisis is over they look forward to singing in the same room again.

To get a boost in morale yourself, we invite you to watch the Hull NHS choir’s heartwarming performance of “People Help the People,” the link to which you can find in the source article below.

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