This October, Scottish Opera (SO) launches a new project named Breath Cycle that’s aimed at benefiting those suffering from a range of conditions affecting lung health, in particular Long Covid.
During a series of relaxed weekly sessions, a team of musicians from SO will work with participants introducing them to songs, vocal exercises and breathing techniques. From the benefits of improved lung function; posture and circulation, to a strengthened immune system and better breath control, as well as relief from stress and anxiety, the gains made of singing regularly are widely recognised.
In addition to the singing sessions, those interested in taking part can sign up for new online song writing workshops led by former Scottish Opera composer-in-residence Gareth Williams, and performance poet Martin O’Connor. Whatever the participant’s musical or lyrical style, they will be introduced to the tools and methods needed to get music down on paper.
As a positive musical legacy of the past 18 months, songs that come out of these workshops, alongside those created by Gareth and Martin themselves, will be arranged and recorded by SO to create a free digital resource for individuals, choirs and singing groups worldwide, called The Covid Composers Songbook,
Director of Outreach and Education at SO, Jane Davidson, said “COVID-19 has affected us all in different ways. But if, like many, it has impacted your long-term physical health, we want to help. Singing is the perfect work out for your heart, lungs, and even your brain. According to the British Lung Foundation, regular singing can have similar benefits to physiotherapy: teaching you to breathe more slowly and deeply; improving your sense of control over your breathing, which in turn reduces anxiety and potential feelings of panic; and improving posture to help you breathe more efficiently. Not only that, but joining a group like this can also introduce you to a network of likeminded people facing similar challenges – all in one enjoyable, sociable and rewarding experience!”
The Breath Cycle project was originally created in 2013 by SO and Glasgow’s Gartnavel General Hospital Cystic Fibrosis Service to explore whether learning classical singing techniques, including breath control, can improve the wellbeing of cystic fibrosis patients. Due to the high risk of infection for those with cystic fibrosis, the project also explored how patients might interact safely with each other, using the internet as a means of meeting, learning and building new communities. The materials were created as part of a study into how singing techniques, including breathing exercises, could replicate the effects of conventional physiotherapy to increase lung function.
Made with support from key NHS consultants, the first Breath Cycle sessions start on 20 October, and will be repeated in blocks in January and April 2022.
Anyone interested in signing up for the sessions should register by 13th October by visiting the SO website. All sessions are free and online via Zoom.
The singing sessions will take place on Wednesdays, at 12.30-1.30pm, from 20 October to 22 December. The song writing sessions are on Fridays from 12.30-1.30pm, on 29 October, 12 November, 26 November, 10 December and 17 December.
Breath Cycle is supported by Cruach Trust, The Murdoch Forrest Charitable Trust, W M Mann Foundation, Souter Charitable Trust and Scottish Opera’s Education Angels.