Happy voices

Wembley-Arena-2011Rock Choir members at Wembley Arena

Classically trained soprano Nicola Cain is leader of the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir. With scientific proof singing makes you happier, is it time to open your mind – and vocal cords – to the power of music?

Rock Choir has over 30,000 members participating in approximately 400 local communities. We offer all ages an alternative experience to the traditional classical or community choir, introducing members to feel-good pop, rock and contemporary chart songs. 

Rock Choir has an uplifting ethos of fun, and friendship and community spirit is a huge part of our attraction, with members enjoying a dynamic and busy new social life whilst connecting with their community. At an individual level, it helps improve people’s wellbeing by building their self-confidence, self-esteem and, in turn, improving their mental and general health.

This was scientifically proven in 2018 when the BBC programme Trust Me I’m a Doctor used members of Rock Choir for an experiment to find out if singing, cycling and dancing boosted our levels of endocannabinoids – neurotransmitters thought to be the cause of the ‘natural high’. These chemicals are similar in structure to the chemicals found in the cannabis plant. As well as giving a ‘buzz’, they are also linked to improving mood and reducing anxiety and stress. Under the direction of physiologist Dr Saoirse O’Sullivan, the group of Rock Choir members were tested in each activity over four days with interviews and blood taken to monitor their levels of endocannabinoids. The end result was extremely exciting. Whilst dancing and cycling raised their happiness levels by 20%, singing raised them by an extraordinary 40%, a discovery that could help enormously with our approach to mental health.

“Rock Choir has made a huge impact on the wellbeing of its members… I’ve seen first-hand how being part of Rock Choir has improved lives; some of our members have reported that they’ve come off anti-depressants, found new confidence in themselves and found pure happiness again. Their wellbeing has impacted their relationships around them too, their family, friends and colleagues, and they will continue to feel better and stronger the longer they sing!” said Rock Choir founder Caroline Redman Lusher.

The Rock Choir team consists of over 140 individuals, including 80 professional musicians and performers, The Leaders, who deliver weekly rehearsals in their communities.

Leading the Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir is a privilege – the choirs become an extension of our families and I am proud of how much the members have bonded. We are always looking for new members and we hope to welcome some new faces – and voices – this year.

Wanstead and Woodford Rock Choir meets at Wanstead High School on Monday evenings from 7.30pm to 9pm (free taster session; £100 per term). For more information, visit wnstd.com/rockchoir