Scottish Opera is offering free singing and breathing tutorials to help people still suffering from breathlessness months after being treated for COVID-19.
The Breath Cycle project was originally created in 2013 to help patients in the Gartnavel respiratory ward with cystic fibrosis. The materials were created as part of a study into how singing techniques, including breathing exercises, could replicate the effects of conventional physiotherapy to increase lung function.
Due to the high risk of infection for those with cystic fibrosis, the project was specifically adapted to explore how patients might interact safely with each other, using the internet as a means of meeting, learning and building new communities.
Therefore, with materials already available online, it is hoped they can now be utilised to help in a similar way for those struggling with the effects of ‘long COVID’.
The audio vocal exercises, written by Scottish Opera’s former Composer in Residence Dr Gareth Williams, work the voice in a gentle way and improve musical ability, pitching and tuning. The video lessons, with vocal instructor Marie Claire Breen, demonstrate some basic classical singing and breathing techniques.
The exercises can be done as often or as little as the participant likes – but the more often they are done, the more benefits are likely to be experienced. There is no equipment required to participate and the exercises can be done wherever and whenever. The exercises can also be practised alongside any physiotherapy that is already being carried out.
The benefits of singing regularly are widely recognised, from improved lung function and circulation to a strengthened immune system, improved posture, and better breath control – it can even provide relief from stress and anxiety.
Scottish Opera is also currently scoping out a future project to further this work, and benefit those with respiratory issues through the power of singing.
All Breath Cycle materials and further information can be found here: https://www.scottishopera.org.uk/join-in/breath-cycle/