Every week, the Dean Close School community gathers in the chapel for a singing practice. The practice lasts just under 15 minutes and is led by our Director of Music, Mrs Helen Porter. This tradition hasn’t changed for years and perhaps it is slightly old fashioned. For many of the pupils, however, it is the activity that they are most likely to miss when they leave the school. In her introduction to “Congo” this week, Mrs Charlie Montgomery reminded us all about why this is such an invaluable time in our week. This is a transcript of what she said:

For some of you, this will be one of the last opportunities you have for a while to sing with a large group of people. Some will join choirs when they leave this place, or chant at a football ground. Some will chance their arm at karaoke on a night out, while others will save their singing talents for the privacy of a bedroom or shower cubicle. I have no doubt that you will look back to Wednesday mornings and you will remember Congo with fondness.

Singing is a wonderfully positive activity. Itimproves mental alertness as improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. This also improves concentration and memory.

Yourcoregetsan amazing workout. You can go from ‘flab to ab’ bysinging – although it’s clearly not working for me. Asyouexhale,yourcore muscleswillactivate immediately and continue to contract untilyoutake in another breath. The more airyoupush out, the harderyourmuscles have to work.

Singingalso releases endorphins, the feel-good chemicals in the brain. It’s a natural stress-reducer. Studies have found thatsingingreduces feelings ofdepressionand loneliness and it relieves anxiety, contributing to a better quality of life. So singing together is the perfect start to a day of exams!

As a Christian, I also believe that God created us with the ability to sing and make music.

We read in Psalm 95 – “Let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.”

And in Psalm 98 – “Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvellous things”

Psalm 105 – “Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts.”

And even the apostle Paul in Ephesians 5 tells us to “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord.”