Scotland establishes Singing for Health Network

A new health network across Scotland has united Singing for Health practitioners, researchers and health professionals under the auspices of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and the School of Health in Social Science at the University of Edinburgh

Singing for Health groups already play an important role in the management of respiratory conditions, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and other mental and physical health issues. The new Singing for Health Network will raise the profile of this work through academic research, collaborative workshops and interaction with the wider health community.

Led by Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS) and the University Clinical Fellow, Liesbeth Tip, the network aims to share knowledge an legitimise singing as an accepted form of music therapy across a wide range of medical conditions.

‘We want to educate and inform medical practitioners about the current Singing for Health practice and how it can support their patients directly,’ said Tip.

Tip and Robertson-Kirkland plan initially to produce a collaborative podcast with the network to share information and ideas about Singing for Health with organisations and practitioners.

‘This network will provide a space for a diverse community of singing practitioners and researchers working on singing and health, to come together to share knowledge, ideas and practice and to open up avenues for communication between individuals and organisations,’ said Robertson-Kirkland.

Liesbeth Tip has a background in mental health inclusive choirs, having established the Harmony Choir, which began as a research project and continues to this day, and a new choir project to improve perinatal and postnatal mental health linked to the Butterfly Baby Clinic project.

She is also working with Dr Yoon Irons of the University of Derby on the MARCH: Mental Health Inclusive Choir project, funded by the MARCH Mental Health Network. This project will examine the education and support requirements of community group singing leaders working in the field of mental health. The research will involve engagement with the singing leaders, people with mental health issues and community organisations. The intended result will be a vital resource of research evidence and a toolkit to help share best practice and to support choirs to adopt their methods.

Dr Brianna Robertson-Kirkland is one of the leading experts on 18th Century music education and the ways in which music teaching has adapted over time. She is the RCS’s programme leader for Integrated Music Studies (History).

Choirs, leaders and singers who wish to assist in research to help support inclusive singing, mental wellbeing and mental health inclusion in choirs may wish to complete one of the surveys on this link.

Header photo: The Harmony Choir at a Fun Palace © Chris Scott 2018