A smiling girl singing in a choir

Sing it out

I love singing, but I don’t usually volunteer to do it with a room full of strangers.

However, after a year of living with COVID-19 restrictions interstate, I jumped at the chance to join Glee Club – a singing group held each Monday at Irish Murphy’s in Salamanca, Hobart – for a cheeky pint and a warble.

All bravado aside, I was terrified. “What if everyone laughs at me? What if I don’t know any of the words?” Amanda Hodder, Hobart Glee Club’s enigmatic leader, had assured me that I was in for a low-key evening with a few “very forgiving” regulars. Imagine my surprise, then, when I walked in to find a large group of rowdy sailors, freshly docked from a week-long tour of the Franklin River, ready to belt out some show tunes. “Brilliant,” I thought, “I won’t find myself the centre of attention with this crew!”

Having a sing at the Pub Choir event at Festival of Voices.

Credit: Alastair Bett

Irish Murphy's packed for Glee Club on Monday night.

As we worked our way through a little Dolly Parton, a little Oasis – classic combo – it became clear that Glee Club isn’t about being the best, or the loudest, or even in tune.

It’s about having fun, singing along with a roomful of Elton John fans. (My fears of forgetting the words were unfounded – handy print-outs are provided.)

“People tell me it’s the one time in their week they don’t look at their phones,” says Vicky Jacobs, who started the first Glee Club in Melbourne 15 years ago. She explains you don’t need to carry a tune to enjoy the health benefits, either.

A natural release of endorphins (the body’s feel-good chemical) when we sing makes us happier, Vicky says. Plus, the controlled breathing required is akin to a yoga or meditation class. “You’ll walk out feeling better than when you walked in.”

Did you know?

  • The scientific community is fascinated with the benefits of song. A 2015 University of Oxford study dubbed the fast social bonding created by group singing ‘the ice-breaker effect’ and other studies have credited singing with improving everything from wellbeing to the immune system.