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Ambleside Song Surgery boosts wellbeing

Bibi Heal with a patient in Song Surgery (photo Ant Robling)

Bespoke songs and poems proved to be mood boosters at a trial ‘song surgery’ in Ambleside.

Prescription poems and remedial tunes were performed and recommended to people feeling under par or stressed out at the special event run by opera singer Bibi Heal. She used the initiative to test her idea of providing customised verse or soothing songs to help relieve a range of maladies and to boost wellbeing.

Skipton-based Bibi was taking part in the Watch This Space project from Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD), the programme which uses the arts, culture and heritage to encourage younger people to settle in the area. It matched suitable space with creatives to support pilots which could be tried out, evolved and grown into bigger things.

Said Bibi’s producer Jane Rice-Bowen: “The song surgery went really well. Bibi prescribed tailored music or poetry and gave one-to-one performances to several people who reported a range of issues including anxiety, stress, lethargy, relationship worries and hassles such as dealing with aging. A lot of people felt tired and overwhelmed with juggling things in their lives.

“One particular patient was suffering from insomnia so Bibi prescribed a song called ‘Sleep’ by the composer Ivor Gurney with words by John Fletcher.”

As well as providing one-to-ones with songs chosen to suit individuals, Bibi was joined by playwright/narrator Bridget Foreman and performing arts students from Bradford College for ‘vitamin boosts’ – short performances of songs, poetry and spoken word which offered a good fit for soothing modern-day maladies.

The idea, which is also supported by Help Musicians UK, is in its research and development phase and the next step is to produce a full show designed to boost wellbeing. There are already plans to perform Song Surgery at The Joinery in Settle on January 24. The evening will feature a performance followed by an opportunity to talk to Bibi.

Creative consultant with GPLD, Emily Wilson, said: “Watch This Space was all about artists letting their imaginations run riot as we provided a temporary space to try something new. Song Surgery fell perfectly into this brief and we can’t wait to see how Bibi and the team progress the idea further.”

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