‘If you can speak, you can sing’

Valerine conducting her choir in Omagh
Valerine conducting her choir in Omagh

English woman Valerie Whitworth believes in the power of singing. In fact she believes in it so much she credits it with helping her recover from the post natal depression she suffered with after giving birth to three babies in the space of a year.

“Singing was my time. It was part of my healing journey and a big part. It didn’t require a lot of planning, or effort, or hard work - I could just go to my singing class and return to look forward to the next time.

“I’d had three babies in a year - having had one baby and quickly falling pregnant with twins- and I felt as if I had lost a bit of my own identity.

“Singing helped me find a little bit of me again,” she said, and when she moved to Northern Ireland several years ago she knew the one thing she could not leave behind was her passion for singing so she found out more about the Natural Voice network and set about organising some workshops in her adopted home of Omagh.

“And then I ended up as a teacher,” Valerie said.

The philosophy of the Natural Voice network is that “if you can speak, you can sing” - and Valerie believes everyone has a voice. “Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost that culture we once had - where people would just sing for the joy of it.

“We need to rediscover our voice and rediscover how to sing freely and to express ourselves.

“A lot of people say they can’t sing, when what they really mean is that they don’t sing.”

Valerie’s classes, which she is bringing to the Playhouse later this month, are, she said “generally very simple”. There is no need for any audition, to sing on your own or to have the ability to read music.

“They are suitable for the complete novice. All you need to bring along is an open mind and a willingness to give things a go.”

The classes follow a basic format - some gentle physical warm up, a few vocal exercises - which Valerie describes as “good fun”, some breathing exercises and “some very simple songs”!.

“They are easy enough to learn and put all the building blocks in place so that in very little time indeed you will find yourself singing in three part harmony.

“No one is asked to sing on their own. You won’t ever be put on the spot. The classes are about singing for health and happiness.”

And Valerie is convinced there are significant health benefits to be had from singing. “Singing gives you a great natural high and there are so many benefits from singing.

“We all have a lot of stress in our lives, be it at work or at home or just getting through the day, but when you sing you can forget all about your cares and just be there in the moment.

“Coming to a class also has a great social aspect to it - it can be fun and it’s great to share that fun with other people.”

Valerie said that when she started singing, the classes very quickly became the highlight of her week.

“I had been going through a very difficult patch, having had my children, and at times I felt completely swamped by the responsibility of it all. Singing helped me find a little bit of space for myself. That sessions once a week would fill me with joy and leave me looking forward to the next one.”

The workshop will take place at the Playhouse on Mon 19th/26th Sept 7.00pm – 9.00pm.  Cost £10 per class

For more information or to book a place please contact Valerie on val@valeriewhitworth.co.uk or 07526534183 website: www.valeriewhitworth.co.uk. Or Ursula McHugh on Ursula.mchugh@btinternet.com or 07813124126