Date: 26/01/15 Photographer: Olivia Woodhouse Photography 07906345674
Irene and Sing to Live workshop leader, Sarah Clarke Photographer: Olivia Woodhouse

For the past year small groups of residents have been meeting throughout the Royal Borough on a weekly basis to sing. In the process they are discovering numerous social and health benefits as well as the opportunity to develop their repertoire of world music and also some well known classics.

Irene Lyford from Bassett Road is one of the early pioneers of the Sing to Live, Live to Sing project – she joined the Dalgarno Group in north Kensington.

The group at Dalgarno Community Centre is looking for an enthusiastic volunteer to support the workshop leader to deliver the Sing to Live, Live to Sing programme.  As a volunteer, you will be a member of the singing group (no previous singing experience is necessary!), but will also play an important role in supporting the workshop leader by arranging performances for the group, spreading the word, and setting up the workshop room each week.  You will be supported by the Dalgarno Community Champions team, and will act as an ambassador for Sing to Live, Live to Sing in the local area.

Sing to Live, Live to Sing is part of the Council’s Arts and Public Health programme -that works with community organisations such as the Dalgarno Community Champions and World’s End and Cremorne Community Champions to host sessions throughout the borough.

A keen music-lover, Irene had stopped singing after going temporarily deaf in one ear when her eardrum was perforated and she joined the group to help regain her confidence. As she explains:

“Our two group leader, Sarah Clarke is a trained singer and teaches really useful vocal techniques – which is really valuable. In fact the workshops are almost like having private singing lessons,”

“Lots of the songs are from African countries using languages that we are not familiar with. But that is ok, the teacher sings it to us and we sing it back to her. It’s very good memory training and we create beautiful two-and three-part harmonies.”

Since joining the group Irene’s hearing has recovered and she now also sings with Kensington Singers a choir with about 50 members. Its conductor Hannah Brine took the first Dalgarno Sing to Live, Live to Sing Group

“I sing twice a week now, once with the Dalgarno Group and also with the Kensington Singers – where we learn lots of lovely classical pieces, some in French and Latin, as well as choral arrangements of popular songs and gospel. We are currently rehearsing contemporary composer Bob Chilcott’s Little Jazz Mass.”

“We have also performed with the Dalgarno Group. The Dalgarno Centre and the nearby St Francis Community Church hold bi-monthly open mic sessions and we have sung at these. We also sang Carols to mark the Christmas lights switch on at Portobello Market”.

“I’ve really enjoyed all the events and have made new friends. I have also brought my friends along to Sing to Live sessions and they’ve enjoyed them.”

The Royal Borough’s Cabinet Leader for the Arts, Cllr Timothy Coleridge said: “To paraphrase the famous trumpeter Louis Armstrong – there are only two kinds of music … the good kind and the bad kind and Sing to Live, Live to Sing is the good kind.

“I hope as many residents as possible take time to sing with the groups and enjoy the wonderful health and social benefits that come with this type of activity.”

There are currently six Sing to Live, Live to Sing sessions taking place throughout the borough each week and over sixty residents singing regularly. Sessions take place both during the day and in the evenings at various centres including: Chelsea Theatre SW10, Dalgarno Community Centre W1, Response Community Projects SW5 and Earls Court Health and Wellbeing Centre, SW5.

All workshops are free and no previous singing experience is necessary, though participants must register to take part. Each series of workshops is led by an experienced singing tutor, and workshops are open to all aged 16 plus.  Participants are invited to take part in a short health questionnaire during the workshop series.

To volunteer, and for more information go to or contact Jennifer Wood in the Arts Service via email or call 020 7361 3844.