A new style of support group is about launch for patients of the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, one with a different tune then might be expected. The inaugural ‘Finding Our Voice!’ workshop series will have participants singing and strengthening their throat reflexes while building connections and community with peers.
The idea first came to Julia Davies, a social worker with the Cancer Centre of Southeastern Ontario, when she came across a study that talked about the therapeutic benefits of singing.
“When I read the study I thought this would be an exciting idea to bring to patients in our region and a fun way to help people connect with one another outside of hospital walls,” says Davis. “Rather than the traditional model of a support group I hope that getting people together to sing will be beneficial to their health and enable connections and community amongst patients’.
As part of this study a total of 193 members of five different choirs who had all been affected by cancer were tested for levels of the stress hormone cortisol and cytokines – immune system signaling molecules that boost the body’s ability to fight serious illness. To measure the benefits of singing choir members provided saliva samples for analysis just before and after singing. Results showed that just one hour of singing increased levels of immune proteins, reduced stress and improved participant’s moods.
“Having cancer can be an incredibly stressful experience patients and this workshop series will be a fun way to help alleviate some of that stress and allow patients to connect with others who can understand the experience each person in that room is going through,” says Davis.
Participants in this workshop do not need to have any vocal or singing experience.
“We want all skill levels and abilities to join in this workshop, from those who only sing in the shower to incredibly accomplished vocalists,” says Holly Gwynne-Timothy, who will be the Artistic Director for Finding Our Voice! “I would invite everybody who thinks they have no voice or wants to work on strengthening their vocal cords to join in.”
Over the course of 12 weeks participants will learn vocal methods that mobilize and free up reflexes in the throat and help with voice projection using minimal energy.
“The best way to describe the approaches that we will be using is that it’s a bit like yoga and pilates for the voice with some conventional singing,” says Timothy. “At the end of this I hope everyone will leave realizing that singing and vocalizing can be really good for the body and when you do it in a group it can be really fun.”
The ‘Finding Our Voice!’ workshop kicks off on Monday, September 17. There is no fee to participate in this workshop and it is open to individuals both on and off cancer treatment and for all disease sites. This workshop was partially funded by donors to the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation.
Monday evenings beginning September 17 – December 3
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Tett Centre for Creativity and Learning
370 King Street W, Kingston ON
To register and learn more about this workshop please contact Julia at 1.800.567.5722 x 2256