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Magenta Singers at Sage Gateshead

Lindsay is blonde with glasses. She is singing in the Magenta Choir

Every Friday at Sage Gateshead, an extraordinary group of people come together to sing in a choir. Many of the participants struggle with their speech and some have mobility issues. They all have two things in common; a condition called acquired aphasia and a love of singing.

Acquired Aphasia is often the outcome of a stroke or brain injury, and can result in communication difficulties including speaking, understanding, writing and reading. Sage Gateshead’s choir, Magenta Singers, is for people of any age who have acquired aphasia and it is run in association with the North East Trust for Aphasia Support Centre in Newcastle.

Lindsey, from Sunderland, used to be a music teacher.9 years ago she suffered a brain haemorrhage caused by a ruptured aneurysm and spent several months in hospital. She has been coming to the choir for 6 years.

“My music range has increased, and it gives me a way to communicate,” she says. “If it hadn’t been for the choir, I wouldn’t be able to sing, and I’ve always loved singing.”

Kerry Green, choir leader says:

“Aphasia can be a result of damage to one side of the brain, usually the left, which controls our words and language system, but our melodic music centre is stored on our right side.”

“People who struggle to form words find they can often sing the words to familiar songs, as the words are carried along by the melody through a different brain route,” says Kerry. “This does not improve speech, but it does give the person some respite from the struggle to utter words.”

“We sing a wide range of songs including pop, blues and folk, and everything from the Beatles to songs from the musicals and develop vocal skills and breathing,” she says.” It’s a friendly, supportive group and the atmosphere is really uplifting. No previous singing experience is necessary.”

Group members and their families have become good friends and they often socialise outside of the class as well as providing peer support.

“None of the people in this choir imagined they’d be as good as they are,” Kerry says.” It’s great seeing the group realise singing songs can really help express themselves, even though they can find conversation challenging.”

“I’d really encourage anybody who has experienced a stroke or brain injury to come along and experience the benefits of group singing” she ends.

The Magenta Singers meet every Friday during term time, 1-2.30pm. Visit sagegateshead.com for more details.