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  • Southside

Dubliners sing out for a healthier new year

Wednesday, 17th January, 2018 7:59am

Story by Neil Fetherstonhaugh
Dubliners sing out for a healthier new year

Mary Lowe O’Gorman and Yvonne McDonald.

Dubliners sing out for a healthier new year

Mary Lowe O’Gorman and Yvonne McDonald.

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A GROUP of Dublin singers are encouraging others to join them as they improve their physical and mental health.

Mary Lowe O’Gorman and Yvonne McDonald set up the adult group CÓ seven years ago and have found it to be a life-changing experience for both themselves and their members.

Classes are filled with enthusiastic singers from all walks of life and of all ages.

And, even though their love of singing was the main reason they joined, CÓRus members have also reported improved mental and physical health as an unexpected but very welcome side effect of their weekly classes. 

“We profoundly believe that your health and wellbeing improve from singing - we’ve seen it happen,” declared Mary Lowe.

The repertoire is based on contemporary hits and older classics, musicals and the list goes on. Pop, rock, country - all kinds of songs end up with a CÓRus twist.

A recent study from Oxford University looked at how people attending adult education classes grew closer over a seven-month period.

The study found that people in singing groups bonded more quickly than in other classes, such as creative writing and art. 

Other studies have found that singing improves cognition, lowers blood pressure, releases endorphins and oxytocin, both of which decrease stress, pain and anxiety, while a joint Yale and Harvard study found that singing regularly can increase life expectancy.

Starting the new year with a mental-health enhancing pursuit like singing in a group can also make it more likely that you will take care of your physical health too.

“Perhaps there’s even an evolutionary aspect to it, in that we had to be in groups to survive and this is revisited happily every time humans sing together,” suggested Yvonee.

“We’re not a choir, we provide singing classes. People don’t have to audition or read music like a lot of choirs expect and that fact helps them relax about joining the classes in the first place.

“We’re based in 15 locations in the North and South of Dublin and we’re looking at expanding nationwide. We want to bring about a singing revolution in Ireland.”

Yvonne added: “Many of our class members were told they couldn’t sing or were never encouraged in school or at home to sing, so our lessons have helped to bring out confidence that they never knew they had.

“So many have now formed friendships, with busy social lives and holidays booked as a result of joining CÓRus. Our singers love performing at our big May concerts in the Helix,” she says. “It’s always a sell out.”

The ladies met when they attended an adoption meeting after adopting children from Russian orphanages.

They had also both worked at RTE (Mary sang backing vocals for Linda Martin at the Eurovision and sings for Rebecca Storm, while Yvonne was a documentary film maker) but had never met.

They have seven classes on the Southside: in Ballyroan, Tallaght, Monkstown, Rathfarnham, Cabinteely and Sandymount after starting in Dundrum.

CÓRus Directors Yvonne McDonald and Mary Lowe are pictured with members Justin O’Gorman, Jackie O’Keeffe and Eric Sutton, (lower row) and Louise Foxe, Jenny Harrison, Vera English and Declan Reidy.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here