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Come & Sing with Vivien Ellis - Sunday 29 January 2017

On Sunday 29 January 2017, the National Centre for Early Music was delighted to welcome back Grammy-nominated vocalist, choir leader and Arts & Health researcher Vivien Ellis, as part of York Residents Festival 2017 and NCEM's wider celebration of the wellbeing  benefits of the arts. Vivien led two relaxed and informal workshops that brought together 72 people of all ages, to unite in song, movement, craft and creativity. Focusing on communal part-singing, the workshops were filled with diverse songs from a variety of global traditions - all learnt without reference to notation or any assumption of prior experience. There were also opportunities for participants to create origami cranes and make decorated 'wish leaves' to attach to the Come & Sing craft tree.

Vivien Ellis is an experienced singing leader and a member of the Natural Voice Network. She enjoys creating a friendly space, where people relax, have fun and get in touch with their own, personal voice. Vivien also has research interests in the area of Arts on Prescription for mental health and well-being and has this to say about social singing: "As a professional singer I've noticed for myself, friends and family the benefits that singing brings for health and wellbeing. Singing in a group lifts my spirits like nothing else, reduces stress and loneliness, and promotes well-being. There are now more choirs in the UK than fish and chip shops, and the spate of TV programmes about choral singing shows that we like to sing in groups because it makes us feel better".

After their own experiences of the workshop, participants had the following to say:

Participants were also asked to track their mood before and after engaging in communal singing activities, to see whether there was any effect on their sense of wellbeing. Each person chose a colour (from the Manchester Colour Wheel, developed by Professor Peter Whorwell and Dr Helen Carruthers) and also selected a word to describe their feelings prior to and following the workshop. The results, shown below in wordcloud form, are telling!



For more information on NCEM's communal singing opportunities, please keep an eye on or contact Emily Crossland .