The origins of HarmonyChoir
HarmonyChoir began in 2016 as a research project. Below is the information that was provided to participants at the recruitment stage of the project. What happened over the next few months was actually remarkably similar to this plan!
Background to the study
This research project aims to study the effect of being in a choir on wellbeing, enjoyment and mental health. A second aim is to examine the attitudes towards any kind of mental health symptoms and unusual experiences, to better understand the variety of views of mental illness that people can have.
A one-off choir will be formed of people with lived experience of mental health symptoms, as well as people that don’t necessarily have experience with symptoms or unusual experiences.
Repertoire will be chosen by the choir from a variety of arrangements of popular songs. A maximum of 60 people can take part performing on stage.
There will be 8 rehearsals, preparing for a concert at the Fringe Festival on the 26th of August. Rehearsals will be held in Morningside, on Mondays from 7-9pm, starting the 27th of June. We will also do a flashmob performance on the streets in the week before the show.
This is a non-auditioning choir, and no previous choir experience is necessary but to be able to assign parts to the choir members (soprano, alt, bass, tenor), everyone taking part will do a brief voice range test to establish singing range.
The choir will be conducted by a musical director, and other collaborators will assist at the rehearsals, like volunteers and a vocal coach.
We hope people will benefit from taking part! To be able to determine this, we will ask everybody taking part to fill out a few short questions about their experiences at the rehearsals and the performances.
The performance will be part of the Just Festival, which is a humanitarian festival, promoting tolerance and equality in society.
Taking part in the study and the choir
If you agree to participate, we will ask you to sign a consent form. The online survey will have to be filled out before the first rehearsal and should take approximately 20 minutes to complete.
When you are selected, you can also take part in an interview after filling out the survey; this interview should take approximately 20-40 minutes. Participants can decide to do just the survey, or both the survey and the interview.
In the interview, participants will be asked about their experience with music and singing, about how they perceive mental health symptoms in themselves and/or others, and what they think effects or consequences can be of having a mental illness for people’s lives.
Before we would start the interview we will ask whether we can record what is said. All information provided during the survey and interview will be completely confidential and individuals will remain anonymous. No personal information will appear in any reports that arise from the project.
Following the interview, should you feel in need of further support or wish to talk to someone about any of the issues arising from the discussion then we do supply an online contacts sheet.
If at any time you feel that you no longer wish to be a part of the project or the study, you can say so and no pressure will be put on you to change your mind. Anything that you have told us will be removed from the study.
A documentary will be made of footage of the rehearsals and of the show, which will be published online and shown at suitable meetings or conferences on the subject of music and/or mental health.
Choir members can be asked for individual interviews to be included in the documentary. A separate consent form will be filled out before a choir member would be interviewed.
If you would like any further information or if you are unhappy with anything during the study then please do not hesitate to contact the research team on: HarmonyChoir@ed.ac.uk.