Choir for Confidence with Dan Cooper – Episode 40

Dan is a professional choir leader and vocal coach with over 10 years experience delivering top class workshops, sessions and singing lessons. He works both within the community and for corporate clients such as Paypal, City Councils and Universities across the UK and beyond.

This episode with Dan is about how a choir can create a safe place to grow in confidence and self-expression.

Dan is a professional choir leader and vocal coach with over 10 years experience delivering top class workshops, sessions and singing lessons. He works both within the community and for corporate clients such as PayPal, City Councils and Universities across the UK and beyond.

Connect with Dan

Instagram: @dancoopermusic

Facebook: @dancoopermusicuk 


00:02 Welcome everyone. This is Aideen from the Resonate podcast. And today I have an amazing guest, Dan Cooper from the UK and Dan is a professional choir leader and vocal coach with over 10 years’ experience, delivering top class workshops, sessions and singing lessons. He works both within the community and for corporate clients such as PayPal, city councils, universities, and across the UK and beyond. Thank you, Dan.

00:32 Love that one intro. I know sometimes we need to be able to hear someone say what we do. And it’s almost like we kind of absorb it. It’s like the voice manifests a version of ourselves, right? Yeah, absolutely. It’s great. Yeah. Well, it’s such a pleasure to have you here. I know we have a few little topics in mind that we might like to get around to talking about. But tell people a little bit about how you got started, what your journey to doing this work was like.

00:59 Absolutely. So when I was 11 years old, which was a few years ago now, I joined a singing group for children and it was, you know, just a fun way to just experience singing, perform and just get used to understanding my own voice. And that was sort of where the passion started. I loved it. And from then, you know, when I turned 18, I started to train as a vocal coach and just felt this passion to just want to share what I’d learned and give other people that opportunity to be involved in similar sort of activities.

01:29 So yeah, Trains of Okra Coach taught hundreds of thousands of singing lessons since that date. And then, you know, things have evolved from then. I run a professional choir. I also run a children’s pop group, where again, it’s a similar thing. We try and encourage children to get out and perform. And then also set up and build a workplace choir business where, you know, going to different businesses and corporate settings to deliver wellness sessions for people to feel good and just feel empowered by using their voice.

01:58 to help them feel better. And that’s really what I love doing, just sharing the power of an individual’s voice for the benefits that brings. Yeah, and it’s, I mean, I suppose we could say it goes without saying, but it doesn’t go without saying, because people think of singing as simply something you do on a stage as a form of performance for someone else to listen to. But what you’re saying there is that there are these benefits that are in the background. Sometimes I could call them the side effects of singing.

02:26 Yeah, so what do you feel the full value of singing can be for people? Yes, and I do I think it also comes down to, you know, I’ve taught choirs and groups of singers for so long that I’ve just learned ways that really help people feel like they can express themselves more. What I find fascinating is I don’t really put the emphasis on the music, which I know might sound a bit strange in a choir setting, for example, but.

02:51 Of course the music’s important, but it’s almost about creating a safe space for people to feel like it’s okay for them to make mistakes or to be themselves or to express themselves or just make noise with other people. And once that culture is, is there, and once it’s embedded and people know that it’s safe and they can be themselves and they can do that stuff, the singing follows and it’s just like a slight shift in terms of what you’re focusing on. It’s like, you know, we could obsess over getting the notes right for years, but actually all that does is sort of.

03:18 bring on a sense of fear about getting it wrong. And it’s just trying to rip that away and just be like, do you know what, whatever noise you make, embrace it, trust it, and do more of it. And it will just, it will happen. It will evolve. It will change, you’ll grow, and you’ll feel more confident in it. And the result of that is there, then going to be better. I so, so agree because as well, when we are a little bit tense in our mind about what we’re doing, it brings a lot of tension into the body, our hands, our jawline.

03:46 All those things then affect the quality of how we sing. So if we start with tension, that’s really backwards. And we can’t, we can’t achieve much that way. No way. And it’s, it’s so fascinating to see, because you can see it physically. You can see it mentally for people. You can just, you just watch this experience just take hold. And again, working with, um, people in a one-to-one, uh, setting when it comes to, you know, somebody working on their voice in a singing lesson, it’s usually emotional.

04:15 blockages that stop them from being able to try different things or to explore or to even give something a go. Something as simple as just making a different type of sound than they would maybe normally use is can be a challenge and it’s like trying to unpick that stuff to go actually no, you’re okay I’ve got you, you’re safe, like you’re not going to be judged for making that sound and I think that comes from, you know I’ve known loads of people that said when they sang when they were young they were told by some

04:43 teacher that they shouldn’t sing. It’s like those young memories that just hang onto and just sort of fester within us for years and it feels real. So, um, trying to unpick that stuff for me is quite a, quite an important part of helping people develop with their, with their ability. Do you think that it’s really possible to help people understand that at a group level, like within a choir, because I know that a lot of choir leaders maybe feel like they don’t have time.

05:11 to take with their people, you know, that there’s an emphasis on, well, we need to get ready for a certain performance. Yeah, I think it is totally doable. And I say that from doing it really. Like, I think so, so I try and break the mold in every single way possible. Like I see what loads of, you know, traditional groups do or what the norm is. And I just think, let’s try and do something totally different. So if performances feel like they’re going to be stressful, I almost think don’t do it.

05:41 it’s almost down to the choir leader to prepare that performance better. And I feel it’s my job as a choir leader to teach in a way that enables the singers to feel ready for a performance, not to say, right, we’ve got a performance in four weeks and we’ve got to get it ready. It’s like, no, that’s not that. That’s going to bring in that thought pressure that is unnecessary. So I try and think, actually, are we able to do that performance before even telling anyone about it? Are we able to, with the content we’ve got, do that in the way that we want to do it? Yes or no. And if it’s a no.

06:11 We don’t do it, you know, and it’s giving enough lead in so that everyone can feel empowered and you’ve got enough time to make sure people feel empowered, to make sure the content is learned before then going ahead and putting on performance. And I do think that comes down to the choir leader. I really do. And I know some choir leaders may not like that sort of, that thought or that realization, but I do think it is. Yeah, I mean, to me, really great.

06:38 Like being able to do anything well comes down to doing it from a place of ease. And our nervous system needs to be feel calm and balanced and well. And when that happens, it, things just flow, right? Yeah. And also, you know, down to the delivery of like, for me, I try and keep things really calm and stable. Like I’m, I don’t get stressed. I don’t get like tense about a performance because all that does is just spread through like wildfire through the group. That’s, I want to be that calm.

07:08 chilled, like we’re fine type leader where people get that sense of actually it’s fine. And do you know what, if it goes wrong, who cares? We’re not robots. Like it’s all fine. Like what’s the worst that can happen? It’s all good. We’re just, you know, it’s the reality of where, yeah, we’re singing in a choir. We want the performance to be good, of course, but if it isn’t, it’s okay. Yeah. And then we come down to what is the full purpose of doing that. And the full purpose is really more to do with enjoyment and communication.

07:37 than with someone being really impressed and giving us a 10 out of 10 at the end of the class. Yeah, but the irony of it is that actually the performance is better. That’s what I find so interesting about it. Like, you know, I’m not saying this in an arrogant way at all, but I know that the choir that I run, the standard of what we put out is really, really high. And compared to a lot of other groups, especially in the area I’m in and that I’ve seen elsewhere, like it’s really high. Members hear that often. Any performance we do, people are blown away by

08:06 the quality, but also they’re blown away by saying I, this guy came up to me the other day after a performance and said, I saw the choir perform and what got me the most was seeing the genuine enjoyment of the members performing. It wasn’t like a, I’m putting on a fake smile and pretending to perform type thing. It was this genuine love and joy, because they felt safe and supported and they knew the content and they weren’t pressured and tense and stressed about it. And then the result of that is that it just feeds out into the wider community.

08:34 So I like looking at it from that lens. Mm. I love that. And is there anything that you say to your choir members quite regularly that’s like, here’s what I need you to understand, guys? It’s sort of, it depends on what sort of group I’m working with. So with my choir, they’re an audition group and a choir of 130, but everyone has to go through an audition process. So there’s an expectation of each session that we need to sort of reach a certain level.

09:01 Um, but one thing I do often say when we’re learning is just like, try it, just make noise, just give it a go. The first run through just do it. And if it’s funny, it’d be funny, you know, if it goes wrong, it would just be a laugh. Like just, just make noise. Um, but when it comes to more relaxed sort of, um, uh, workplace settings, for example, where it is all about, um, morale and there’s no performance in the pipeline at all, my phrase is strong and wrong, just go strong, even if it’s wrong. Just commit to something. Doesn’t matter. Like strong and wrong is the way forward.

09:30 I like that. You know, I always say to especially newer singers that singing is just good guessing because we don’t see what we’re choosing. We’re choosing somewhere in the depth of our brain and somehow a signal is being sent to our vocal folds and then when it comes out, we hear it and it’s like, if you’re hearing it, it’s actually too late to change it.

09:51 because it was so mental. That’s crazy. Isn’t it? So cool. I think it’s like eight seconds before you hear it. It’s already been decided and it’s a lot to do with muscle memory and, you know, just having understanding how it feels to create a certain tone. And that’s, that can only be done by trying it. Like you don’t get better at kicking a ball into the back of the net by reading about it. You have to get into the field and, you know, start aiming.

10:18 And if you don’t get there, I mean, in a soccer match, it’s normal to not hit the goal every single time that’s like, cause it depends where you’re aiming from. And it can be very similar with singers. And as you become, um, as you do it more, you start to trust in it more and you do get better. Definitely. And it’s that, you know, I think our culture sadly in, in, whether UK, at least with, with TV shows like the X factor or

10:45 the voice or whatever, there’s this real judgment around singing where people are quick to say, well, did you see that singer perform? It was terrible. Or they have a really strong view on it, whether it was amazing or terrible. There’s never really a middle ground. And I think that is just what has been dragged through, you know, people when they go to sing, it’s like, well, and I can’t possibly express it if it’s not amazing. Or, you know, I’m terrible. It’s like, actually, no, that I just, I just hate that, that sort of black and white.

11:12 bad, good type thinking. It’s like actually, no, we’re all on a on a journey. It’s muscular, we can all learn, we can all get better. We might be starting at different places, but we can all improve and enjoy it for whatever it is without this whole, it’s got to be amazing type thinking. Yeah. And like you just said, when someone might be struggling to find a specific note, it’s like, we’ll try something and muscle memory will take over eventually, and you’ll learn what it is, and you’ll get used to how it needs to go. And it will then just be easy. But if you’re not going to

11:41 try, that’s when the challenges get harder, I think. Definitely. And it’s an adult kid thing as well. I mean, anybody who learns how to drive has an excruciating time. Most of us having, you know, to try and multitask with the looking and the, you know, you know, and even people in the street and, you know, balancing the gears, all those things. And we go through it. And for a lot of people, it’s like, like almost like hell because we don’t give ourselves.

12:10 enough credit for just doing it badly. And if we’re kids, we actually take joy in doing it, whether we do it badly or not. Yeah, that is so right. And what’s fascinating. So with the children’s group that I run, you see that there’s no fear. Just, they just do it. Like they don’t care that they’re on stage in front of 2000 people. They just do it and have a best time with it. You know, there’s of course, there’s a little bit of nerves, but there’s a, it’s a totally different mindset. The fear isn’t quite the same.

12:38 No, it’s not as judgmental. No. And that’s why, you know, for me, I want to create a place where they feel even more supported. It’s like, you do it, and you do it. You just do it. Like be safe in that feel supported. Like there’s no judgment here. Like just do enjoy it. Have the best time. Because hopefully they’ll carry that memory through the rest of their life, as opposed to the ones that I’ve seen many times where it’s that you need to go in the back because you didn’t sing it very well type thing.

13:03 Well, that’s the other thing, you know, when you achieve something, you know, especially with a performance, it helps you feel capable in other areas of your life sometimes. So there’s a life skill that that the kids are learning and possibly the adults too, right? 100%, one million percent. You know, adults totally, I think even what’s different with the adults, obviously, is they’re aware more of it. So children may not be aware of quite what they’re gaining. They love it.

13:31 but they won’t realize maybe until they’re a bit older, look back and go, wow, those opportunities or those experiences made me get to here. But I think adults are a little bit more grateful of it in a shorter period of time, almost instantly. It’s like, I feel more confident now because of that. I did that thing I didn’t think I would be able to do and I did it. I’m curious, because I know you started in a singing group as a kid, and somehow there must’ve been a moment for you when you realized this is…

13:58 just the best ever and I want to keep doing this. Do you have any like little experiences that you would be okay sharing with us? Yeah, so I think for me, I really didn’t like school and I didn’t connect with people at school and my peers in school, which was tricky. So I found school life really difficult. So when I had this group externally where I could love music, not be judged for liking music and just really be myself with it,

14:27 I got this real sense of belonging and this sort of safety net of, well, this is my thing type thing, and this is what I love to do. And that’s what started that place where, you know, now I found my people and my friends. It wasn’t all about the singing. It was the friends and the community and the group that I’d found. That, what followed, that was the confidence to be able to use my voice and to start performing and then do more and then

14:55 start teaching that group. And then it was like that sense of, oh, wow. Okay. I can do this. It, it was that sort of safety of, of feeling part of something and connected to something and accepted as well. It sounds like an accepted. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. That’s huge. It is huge. And it’s almost like the lack of acceptance within your school environment helped you really appreciate the acceptance that you got within the singing group. Yeah, absolutely. And my school was not.

15:24 brilliant. And it turned into a sports college. So the government gave loads of funding for it to be, you know, all about sport. So when it came to choosing my options, when I was in the 10 or whatever it was, about whether you know what I wanted to do, and I wanted to choose music, I wasn’t allowed to take music because not enough children wanted to take it. So what was pushed to everyone is sport, sport, and sport. And I hated sport at school. Like I love I love fitness now, which is so ironic, like I like doing that stuff now. But I hated it.

15:53 So I was sort of not allowed to do what I wanted to do and instead was forced into the stuff that I was being told to do and that was hard. So when I could put all of my focus into that outside of school and do my teacher training when it came to teaching and understanding my voice and singing lessons and performing, I got such a kick from that and it was such a buzz that I wasn’t allowed to have in a more formal setting. Oh well I’m just so glad that you found music at such a young age and

16:22 so excited with everything you’re doing. We spoke just briefly before we came on live. I was wondering if we could talk a little bit about the breathing side of singing. And I had been explaining to Dan here that I had feedback from someone online saying, Aideen, you’re speaking, but you’re always breathing through your mouth and not through your nose. And it’s much more beneficial to breathe through your nose. And here’s a book.

16:52 that you should read by James Nestor called Breathe. And I thought that maybe you might have some insight into the breathing side of things from your teaching as well. Yeah, so what’s funny with breathing, nothing’s really funny about breathing because it’s important, isn’t it? But I don’t really focus on breathing too much when it comes to individual coaching because I was always taught that we’re going to breathe when we need to breathe because we’re going to breathe. We have to. Yeah.

17:20 And often if we can start thinking about it, it can cause more of this sort of panic, like am I doing it right, am I doing it wrong? When do I breathe? Then you miss a word because you’re thinking about breathing and then end up with shorter breaths or that sort of panic around when on how and what. So my approach with it is very much just be, you know, let it happen as it will and it will. You’re going to breathe because you have to and try and embrace it that way. That said, I do think there’s an importance in

17:49 allowing yourself to slow down your breathing just generally. Like I think I do a lot of meditation. I love trying to just sort of really tune in with my breath as a way of grounding myself. And I think that stuff is so important because it’s not then a panicked gasping of air type thing. It’s more of a relaxed and grounded, thoughtful process. Does that sort of make sense?

18:13 Yeah, completely. Because we talked a little bit about, you know, our nervous system, you know, and we do things better when we’re calm. And our breathing is really affected when we don’t feel calm and that kind of, you know, harried breathing or breathing into just the upper body and breathing early as well, you know, I would say most of the time when I sing, I just snatch a quick breath before I sing. I’d never go.

18:39 Ta-da, here I go singing because it actually doesn’t work and it creates a huge amount of pressure actually under the vocal folds. And it’s something that a lot of people get confused about if they start singing when they’re a bit older. Yeah. And it’s, you know, nerves play such a part, like when you’re singing publicly, your body does weird things with nerves. So for me, I always think if you can find a more neutral state through any…

19:08 type of exercise, singing, whatever that is, or wherever you do feel safe. When things are a little more elevated for nerves or whatever reason, it’s not going to be quite as out of control as it could be. And I’ve definitely been in situations where you almost can’t grab a breath because the nerves are there and you’re trying to like, just like get anything in and everything then feels difficult and then you start panicking about it and then it all sort of spirals. So just trying to like encourage that sort of more stable.

19:36 gentle calm approach from day one sort of feels a little more manageable. Absolutely. And I work a lot with, with people who want to sing a song on their own. And when they have problems with their breathing, this is the strategy that I would use. I would get them to sing one line and then ask them to stop as if they’ve stopped singing and they’re going to go and make a cup of tea instead. Great. Because that relaxes everything in the body. You go, oh, it’s almost like a case of amnesia.

20:04 straight after you’ve sung a line. And then I say, now sing the next line. And they take a snatch, whatever little tiny bread they need, if they need one, they sing the next line. And then they relax at the end of it. So it’s almost like training the body to do less when you’re singing. And I know it’s really, if our breath is like feeling like it’s out of control,

20:31 I’d often get people to do a bit of sighing. Do you do that with people? I like get people before they sing to go really big in breath and then let it all out. Yeah, I don’t personally, but I can see why that would be beneficial. Yeah, yeah. So there’s lots of great ways. And I think what you’re saying to people is absolutely right in terms of less is more. That’s exactly it. And you know, you see it so many times where someone thinks suddenly they’re singing, they suddenly have to put this like real.

21:00 force and effort into everything and it’s so hard, like not only physically but mentally. It’s like suddenly I’m on, I need to sing it in this way and it’s got to be done like this. And yeah, less is more. I always say it should be easy if it’s hard work, something isn’t quite working out, you know? Yeah. We talk without difficulty because we can’t communicate if it was hurting or it was difficult, it was a lot of effort, we wouldn’t communicate. We would find, you know, as humans, it wouldn’t be a thing we do.

21:28 So it’s trying to like bring that, that thinking through into when someone sings and just think it’s just an extension of, of the speaking voice, because it all comes from the same place. We don’t have a singing voice and a talking voice, you know, it’s all the same. Absolutely. And we can hear melody in our speaking voice. Da da da da da da da da da da. Um, what do you say to people? Like, because here I’m in, I joined a choir because I’m in a new, you know, place here in Michigan and I joined a choir and it’s quite formal music.

21:56 And there’s lots of fortissimo and things like that. Um, and because I hadn’t been in a big, big choir like that, since I think I was, had one experience of it as a teenager, I was found that my voice was feeling very tired. So what do you say to people who maybe are in choirs, but they find that they, they don’t really, you know, they find that their voice gets a little tired or they’re pushing and things like that. Yeah. I think it comes down to, um, like.

22:24 doing it more, isn’t it? And, but doing it in a safe way. I always say to people, especially when people join my choir, for example, that are new and it’s all a bit of an over overwhelming experience. It’s like less is more again. It’s just maybe just joining with the choruses or little bits of it that you feel at the start are manageable and then add and slowly build into that and just try and see how you get on, but taking it in a pace that works for you without feeling like you’ve got to do it all instantly straight away. Yeah.

22:51 And, you know, singing in a group, of course you want to have that power and that energy. But also if it’s feeling difficult, you feel like you’re pushing it. It’s like, you know, be okay to take a step back and be part of that group and think that actually we’re all in it together. And if I need to take a step back for a second and let someone else do a bit more, that’s fine. It’s like that team effort, isn’t it? Yeah, for sure.

23:12 Absolutely. And then over time, the stamina builds up because like you said, before muscle memory starts to kick in and it suddenly doesn’t become this like, whoa, what am I doing? It’s like, oh, okay, I’ve warmed up now. I’m back into that sort of state of, I know what I’m doing. Absolutely. And I love recommending choir to people who are starting singing that maybe feel that they don’t hear the notes very well, or they, they maybe don’t match pitch always the way that they would like to, because a lot of that comes down to, you know,

23:42 your ear and when we have a place where everybody’s in it together then we can develop that, you know, we start to hear things differently. Definitely. You see so much growth for people when they join a group in so many ways. Yeah, do you give everyone the sheet music as well? No, we don’t have any sheet music, it’s all done by ear, so it’s all call and response and that works really well because again I don’t even actually really use lyrics that much because

24:10 lyrics can be a bit of a safety blanket where people end up just reading as opposed to being present with each other and connecting in the room. So it’s just trying to take those safety blankets away in a safe way, you know, not just say, right, we’re not going to do it and you’re going to feel panicked about it. It’s not, not like that. It’s like, let’s explore a different way of learning this. Especially if it’s a song that’s well known. I mean, people generally know the lyrics more than they think they do and just want the bit of paper to feel like they’re not being exposed or not.

24:39 going to get it wrong or they can almost blame a mistake on, oh, I read it wrong. So it’s like trying to just think about it slightly differently where actually we can try it and we might get the words wrong. And then again, muscle memory starts to kick in and then you actually learn it better because you’re not reading. Oh, completely. And I know from even performing in small groups where I’m the only singer, you have to know it. Like it’s okay.

25:03 to have something beside you or like, I’d recommend people have the lyrics in their back pocket so that they can look at it before they start. But we don’t want to be holding something in front of our faces, do we? No, and I so, I try and innovate in terms of what I offer with my choir. So we have something called I’m an ally program. So we’re talking about ways that each individual member can become a better ally for whatever other causes there are.

25:28 Um, and we also have a green plan, think about the planet. So try not to have like, you know, plastic bottles at sessions and to use devices as opposed to paper. Um, but one thing I’ve also introduced this year is something called focus time. And it’s just allocating a 20 minute part of the session to just be a little more mindful of what, what you’re doing. And as part of that, I said, you know, obviously if you need your phone to look at the lyrics, do it. However, maybe try without and just see how you get on. And it’s only been something that.

25:55 sort of done from January and the difference is huge. And within, you know, three months, I’ve had so many emails from my members saying to me, I’m learning the lyrics so much quicker without having them. I can’t believe it. And it’s that they’ve tried it and it’s worked and then they get the confidence to do it more. And now they’re not even needing to get their phones out at all when we start a new song. They just try to be really present with listening to every single group learn their part, be present with what they’re doing and they’re learning different tactics to remember the words without having to read it.

26:25 So it’s just these like gentle encouragements of ways to push the boundaries in terms of what’s expected when you turn up to a choir. I mean, how many times do you see choirs with sheet music or lyrics or you need your song book or come along with your plastic song book? And that’s what you need to do. And I’ve got my own book and it’s like, yeah, I get it. Of course, that’s what it’s always been. But I feel like let’s try and innovate and move away from that and move into a different way of learning that actually might be more beneficial and may empower people more than just, you know, learning a song like.

26:54 they can take those skills away elsewhere as well. Oh, I think that’s amazing. Um, so basically what you’re saying, just wanted to clarify for myself, you’re just asking people to stay more present during that phase of we’re learning a new song and just listen more and try to absorb it and all of that. Yeah, it’s amazing. But I can imagine that that’s one of the reasons why when your group performs that they look so happy.

27:19 because they are not looking down at anything. They know that they know it really well already. They can just be present. Totally, and they’re in it with each other because they’ve connected on a deeper level. And this stuff takes time. Like it has taken years of this gentle culture shift to get to this place where we are now, which is really powerful. But it’s all about how it’s done. You know, I’ve seen groups try and do things before and it’s just, it doesn’t land right because the leader might be saying, right,

27:46 phones are banned, put your phones in that box. And it’s like, that’s not, that puts people’s back up. Like that’s not what it’s about. It’s not telling people what to do. It’s encouraging in a safe place to say, have you tried it? And let’s as a group, try something a little bit different. Do you, are you up for the challenge type thing? I’m not going to ban the phones. Like that just feels really strict. So it’s like that, that thinking process. And it does, you know, I’ve tried, I don’t use lyrics at all for pretty much anything I do, but

28:12 there has been resistance in the past where people have this emotional response surrounded within security really that they don’t think they can do it. And the way to deal with that is to lash out and say, I need the lyrics. This isn’t fair type thing. And in those moments, I’m like, I get that. And if you need them, do it. I’m just trying to say maybe, maybe explore a different way. And if you’re not ready for that, that’s fine. But if you can, you might love it. And again, a few months down the line, after some gradual, gentle encouragement, they’ve turned around and say,

28:42 actually it’s better. I’m sorry I lashed out. I’m sorry. I was so like rude about it. Well, you know, it comes down to as well that the written version of music is far more recent than the aural kind of call response, you know, people have been only writing music down for like a few hundreds of years really, right? Yeah. So when it’s primal, it’s kind of based on.

29:09 what you hear and something that’s really in the moment. It’s definitely more memorable and it can have a more lasting impact, I think too. And this, you know, for me, the focus time element of my sessions is not just about that. It’s looking at, have you heard of the five pillars of mental health? No. So there’s five pillars, I can’t remember what they are at the top of my head that sort of identify how we can all be better or feel better with our mental health.

29:39 basically ticks every single one of them and it’s in all around connection and being present so it’s not about just about the learning the songs it’s about that mental health benefit of being present with a group of people and actually connected with a group of people so it’s trying to like incorporate that stuff into it too where actually you know the result of not having your phone and reading lyrics is so much greater than the song it’s about how you feel as part of that community that you’re in

30:07 which therefore helps you have a better life and feel happier and then feel able to do more things and feel more confident and take risks and try different stuff. And it all just then this positive cycle happens and I love it. I find it fascinating and I find it so rewarding. Well, and this is one of the reasons why if you know the HR person in your company and you want somebody to come in and do something fun with the group that you’re the guy to call and I know Dan that you’re open to doing.

30:36 work like this worldwide. So do you want to tell people like what that would look like if you were to come and work with a group? Yeah. So I do a couple of things. So I love to visit different choirs, you know, as me, just to come and meet different groups, work with different singers and work with different choirs all over the place. And that’s a really rewarding part of my job. So that’s one part of what I do. But then, you know, in terms of the corporate space, I created this company called SingForce and we go into.

31:05 corporate settings to deliver wellness sessions for staff. So it’s usually an hour long. We have a virtual offering as well where we can just get employees singing with their colleagues, having fun, connecting with each other and feeling good.

31:20 That’s amazing. So sorry, my dog is barking in the distance. If anyone can hear that. What’s your dog called? Sushi. My husband named her after his favorite food. That’s a sensible idea. I love that. Oh, it can be confusing sometimes because I brought a sushi home from this, the shops yesterday and I told my mother-in-law, we have sushi for dinner and she said, sushi, ate her dinner. And I was like, oh no, that’s not what I meant. So.

31:48 Well, that’s about all we have time for today. Dan, it’s been an absolute pleasure. I am so excited for the work you’re doing. I think it’s such important work. I think there’s a ripple effect that comes from having someone accept us for who we are, creating a safe environment and, you know, making failure and mistakes part of the journey and not something to avoid. So there’s so many life lessons in that. And I’m really grateful that you’re doing the work you’re doing. And I look forward to.

32:18 Um, hopefully having you join maybe the next voice and song summit that we have, um, next year. And I’m excited to, to, to see where you go next. Oh, thank you. It’s been lovely being here and thanks for having me. Like it’s always fun to chat about this stuff. So thanks. Yeah, you’re welcome. You’re welcome. Thank you, everyone who’s listened and we will talk to you guys soon. Bye bye. See you later. Thank you.

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