Rod launches new community singing group in Bognor Regis

A new community group launching in Bognor Regis will be singing for health.

The group, to be known as Vox Anima, will meet for the first time on Saturday, June 1 from 11am at Jeneses Community Arts Centre, 45 Linden Road, Bognor Regis, putting into practice Rod Paton’s belief that everyone is musical.

Rod Paton

Rod Paton

No specialist musical training is necessary, and you do not need to be able to read music, says Rod, a senior lecturer in music at the University of Chichester.

The intended benefits are: increased energy levels; reduced stress levels; a general increase in well-being; enhanced relationships; creative fun; and collective joy. Rod promises.

Stemming out of work which Rod has done in Chichester with his Singing for Health group with patients at the Lavant Road surgery, the project is also born out of Rod’s on-going Lifemusic project, designed to bring people together in voice and community, to express the self and to share the gift of song which we all possess.

“The principles behind Vox Anima are the same those underpinning the Lifemusic project generally – everyone is musical, there are no wrong notes, every sound carries meaning and trust lies at the heart of music-making.”

The Lavant Road surgery group began just over a year ago when the surgery’s patient participation group approached the university about setting up a singing group to explore the health benefits of singing.

“I went to see the surgery and explained my concept. We made a little poster making it clear that it was going to be very inclusive and that we would be offering two taster sessions free of charge.

“I met an extraordinary lady called Eileen Pankhurst, and she was a pillar of strength. But she got very anxious as we were waiting there on a very cold evening. Eileen said ‘Nobody is going to turn up!’, but we had 65 people come to that first taster session, and then at the second taster session we had a similar number of different people. For the first two sessions, we had more than a hundred people.”

A lottery grant helped things take off; since then more than 190 people have enjoyed the benefits, all so far exclusive to patients at the surgery - which is the reason Rod is now opening it all with the launch of the Bognor Regis group.

People can turn up on the day of the launch, but Rod would prefer people to book in advance through; the charge is £15.

“They will get a whole day of singing. I would not call it tuition, but it will be an opportunity to explore your own voice alongside others and to sing music from all parts of the world. And if there are sufficient numbers of people interested, we will run it as a regular group similar to the Singing for Health group but in Bognor, rather than Chichester.”

Rod is confident they will enjoy the same benefits which have been confirmed through hand-outs, questionnaires and conversation.

“The gist is that for many of these people on a Monday night, it is the highlight of their week. They find that they are having an experience they have never had before and thing it brings a lot of joy. Some find that they sleep better. It takes them out of their comfort zones in some ways, and they feel a sense of companionship with other people in the group.”

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