Singing makes me feel better
John says singing has improved his lung health – and made him happier.
Nowadays we’re told that exercise is good for people with breathing problems. But when I was young, there was no sport at school if you had asthma.
I left school at 17, and after 5 years I qualified as a ships draughtsman. It was about this time I spoke to my doctor about my breathing.
He advised that I should smoke a few cigarettes every morning to loosen my lungs.
To loosen my lungs!
Apparently this was quite common before the war. I trusted my doctor, so I did what I was told. But it’s addictive, and I was soon hooked.
Hindsight is great, isn’t it?
I can’t sing
I’m now living with severe COPD. This puts considerable restrictions on me, unless I plan everything very carefully.
I love socialising. So for the last 16 years, I’ve been chair of my local Breathe Easy support group in Colchester. I really enjoy this – I can get out and chat to people like me.
But when Ashley from the British Lung Foundation asked me to help set up a singing group, I had reservations.
I can’t sing. But I soon found out that singing could actually help people with lung conditions. So I decided to move past my doubts, and give it a go.
How the class works
We’re lucky to have a brilliant music therapist called Mary Anne. She makes the whole hour fun. I really look forward to it.
We start with some breathing and singing exercises. Some of these involve making funny faces and funny noises – we always have a good laugh. It’s a good icebreaker, especially if you’re a nervous first-timer.
That’s followed by 30 minutes of singing together. The most important thing is improving our health – but we don’t sound too bad either!
We look forward to it
There’s a long way to go, but we all enjoy it. The singing and the socialising have both helped our health. There’s a camaraderie, and it brings back memories of songs I’d forgotten.
Many come along feeling sceptical, not really sure how it will help. And most of them have stuck with it, and now really look forward to coming back and singing with us all.
I always feel better afterwards. I think everybody does – and that’s reflected in the increase in numbers attending since we first started.
Singing makes me feel better – and it’s an enjoyable afternoon out, which leaves me happy for the journey home.
My advice is simple. Try it – you won’t regret it.