Choir leader says singing can help older people stay mentally sharp

By Barrie Hudson - 30 January 2024

CommunityHealthCharityArts and Culture

A choir leader originally from Swindon has hailed a new report suggesting singing can keep the mind sharp in older age.

The study was conducted by scientists at the University of Exeter.

Bath-based choir leader and charity founder Grenville Jones has always shouted from the rooftops that "singing should be on prescription”. 

With over 35 years' experience directing and conducting choirs, Grenville has seen first-hand the positive effects that singing has, particularly on older people.

As founder of the Goldies Charity, introduced by him 15 years ago, his charity now runs over 160 Sing & Smile sessions across England and Wales for older isolated people. It is, however, his choir leadership that has impressed upon him how people’s lives positively gain from regular singing in a choir.

A dozen years ago he introduced a project which encourages singing in the afternoon. Now in 2024 he runs 25 ‘Good Afternoon Choirs’ across the West of England, reaching out to over 1,100 people who enjoy and attend their weekly Good Afternoon Choir.

He said: "Anyone who leads a choir will tell you about the positive effects on their singers by participating in a choir rehearsal. We see it week in and week out and this recent report from the University of Exeter further underlines the value of what researchers refer to as the ‘executive function’. 

"Singing and playing an instrument are positively linked to better brain health.”

Grenville, who is 75, still leads four of his afternoon choirs each week with over 200 singers, and in his past years of choir leadership has taken thousands of choir rehearsals.

Having seen the value that singing in the afternoon brings to the lives of mature people, Grenville is planning to introduce his daytime choirs across the United Kingdom.

He said: “In the West of England we have 12 brilliant choir leaders and the search is on now to find more talented people who would like to work with us and develop afternoon choirs in their individual areas.”

Last week it was announced that the Good Afternoon Choirs had raised over £30,000 in 2023 for local charities with their fundraising concerts.

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