• Unite the Beat

3 creative activities to stave off lockdown boredom

Updated: May 8, 2020

Exercise 1: write a colour

So, how do you paint a picture with your voice? I’m not talking about expressing your emotions or dreaming up a story that you perceive to be happening, but actually translating image into sound. What does the colour blue sound like to you? And what about the others in your group? And why would you do it in the first place?! These are some of the thoughts my group of 8 found themselves pondering when in our final session together I challenged them to sing a picture!

This task formed part of the qualifying stages of The Group Voice Arts Therapy course I was undertaking at The British Academy of Sound Therapy. Each week for a month we met at the Haywain Barn at Hellens Manor to expand ourselves and push at the edges of what we felt our voices could do. We sang in gibberish, we howled, we whispered, passed sounds around and most importantly we all rose to the challenge of achieving the unachievable.

There isn’t a huge amount of research into the benefits of group singing of this nature, but a lot can be discerned from the outcomes of choral singing. In their paper ‘An exploration of choir singing: Achieving wholeness through challenge,’ Tonneijck et al (2008) refer to exactly that, the possibility to overcome challenge in a unified, time bound and contained environment.

They also speak of the therapeutic benefits of ‘experiencing something different from the ordinary things in life and being distracted from daily routines.’ I can assure you that when you are desperately trying to work out how to convey a huge cliff face in sound, or how to convey the colour gold bounding off a beautiful prayer rock, there isn’t much mental space to be distracted by your shopping list, the fight you had with a loved one, or the crushing pressure of your job.

So how can we all make the most of this phenomenon. The arts offer us a space to contain our emotions, to distract us from daily worries and to offer us a product upon which to ponder. In these treacherous days when we cannot gather in the beauty of the Haywain Barn, how can we access this profound power.

3 exercises to enjoy during Corona Lockdown:

Let us know how it goes or even upload a recording/picture to our FB page and/or tag us on Instagram @unitethebeat. Don’t forget to tag at @manorhellens too.

1: Daily exercises/time outdoors: pick a beautiful colour and describe it only in words (not using colour words like red, mahogany...). Send/share the description with someone and ask them to try to create it (paints, colouring pencils, food dye! Whatever you have to hand!). Take a picture or show them what you had described. Connecting with nature through colour helps to switch off our brains and immerse us in our present.

2: Sit with those you are lockdown with. Take it in turns to make a sound and pass it to the person next to you. Try to match their sound and pass it on. This is called passing a tone ball. To expand the exercise, next time you receive the sound, match what you were passed, but change it to something else before you pass it on. You can start with oooo and ahh type sounds and then descend into mad storytelling through gibberish and general play! Again, tuning in in this way focuses your mind and helps you to build strong relationships with those you are living with. Time out from the stress of global pandemic and opportunity for unbridled play!

3: Pick a song if you live close enough to others to hear each other. Agree a time to sing it. We live out in the countryside right now so can feel really quite alone. If we were in a village/town/city, we would definitely be having street sing offs! This really is a time to feel connected and united in our struggle.

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