Doctors in London are investigating how singing can help seriously ill patients improve their breathing control.
Regular classes are being held at the Royal Brompton Hospital. Hundreds of patients have joined the sessions, and 60 have been enrolled in a clinical trial which is expected to publish results by the end of the year. Some patients who have joined the sessions say singing has transformed their lives.
Visitors to the Royal Brompton's Victoria Ward may be taken aback to hear the sound of music wafting down the corridor, together with banter, laughter and a cacophony of oral exercises. This is a place that specialises in high-dependency care for patients with severe lung disease.But it is also the venue for regular singing classes.
The voice trainer, Phoene Cave, says she is seeing improvements in breathing control even within one session.
"I'm helping them to become aware of their bodies in a way that they're not used to," she said. "I'm helping them become aware of their breathing patterns in a way they're not used to, and I'm helping them to relax and expand and have fun and to laugh and to connect with other people. "
The class begins with some vocal limbering up, including collective sighing, buzzing noises and ha-ha sounds up and down the scales. Then they move on to songs including "Drunken Sailor", "Cockles and Mussels" and "Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me".