Aneta Wineera is a busy woman with a full schedule, but one thing she never misses is the weekly practices of the Porirua Sing Your Lungs Out (PSYLO) choir.
PSYLO is a choir for people with respiratory conditions, including asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD). The first Sing Your Lungs Out choir was originally set up as part of a study in Wellington, which was researching how singing affects people with lung conditions. They found that singing as part of a group has huge benefits on morale and well-being. After the study finished, the choir continued to meet in Wellington and the Porirua group was formed. Currently, both Otago and Nelson Asthma Societies are in the process of setting up local choirs.
Aneta, who has asthma, has been an enthusiastic member of PSYLO for several years: “I joined the choir because I wanted to sing and I knew it would be good for my asthma. I kept going because it’s a step out of the ordinary from my everyday life.”
Despite being free to attend, PSYLO uses a qualified music therapist to teach the songs and get everyone singing: “Emma is young, bouncy and full of life but she’s also great at giving us direction and telling us what to do,” explains Aneta. “The choir is also pretty diverse! We have lots of different ethnicities and a good mix of both men and women. We try to sing a range of different songs, including songs from different nationalities and in different languages. For instance, we learnt a Sinhalese Christmas song and often sing in Maori,” says Aneta.
PSYLO performs in places like rest homes, malls and libraries. “I was terrified of performing at first”, confesses Aneta. “But it’s really enjoyable to sing as a group. I find singing very therapeutic. It doesn’t even matter if you can’t sing very well. You just need to be happy to give it a go!”
Although the choir is mostly for people with respiratory conditions, illness is not the main topic of discussion at PSYLO. Aneta explains: “I couldn’t even tell you what respiratory illness everyone else in the choir has; we are not there to talk about our illnesses or how hard we find it to walk up the stairs. That’s one of the charms of the choir; we just go to have fun and sing.”
Aneta reflects on her time in the choir: “The main benefit of the choir is that it brings people with respiratory conditions together, my only wish for the choir is that more people knew about it!”
If you are interested in learning more about the choirs, check out the contact details below:
Porirua Sing Your Lungs Out Choir
Contact: Claire Richards
Phone: 027 405 6458
Location: Supper Room, Mungavin Hall, Mungavin Avenue, Ranui, Porirua
Days/Time: Every Thursday 11:30-12:30pm
Wellington Sing Your Lungs Out Choir
Contact: Robyn Lange
Phone: 027 817 1136
Location: All Saints Church, 90 Hamiltons Road, Hataitai
Times and dates change so get in touch if interested.
To celebrate International Nurse’s Day, the Foundation chatted with respiratory nurse educator Claire Richards who works for Ora Toa Asthma Health Service at Te Rūnanga o Tao Rangatira in Porirua. Claire was awarded the Asthma Educator Award at the Foundation’s Respiratory Achievers’ Awards in February.