All that jazz! Lunchtime song and dance at mental health event

Jason Charles-Nelson from Young Music Makers

Jason Charles-Nelson from Young Music Makers - Credit: Archant

The Ham&High welcomed an upbeat lunch hour of sing and dance as part of its online mental health day.

Swing Sister Swing and Young Music Makers shared the benefits of music and dance for wellbeing with the audience at Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health on May 21.

First up were the jazz dance teachings of Cat Foley of Swing Sister Swing, a female-led outfit who teach dance, music and theatre.

With guidance, the audience danced its way through Cat’s step-by-step history of swing dance.

Cat said: “I’m going to be in my body and just let that jazz music reverberate.

“I know a song is really good if I can’t stand still.”  

To the sound of Count Basie, a swing composer from the 1920s golden age of jazz, the audience was led into a box step.

Throughout, Cat discussed the roots of jazz, which arose out of the Black American experience in late 19th and early 20th century.

Cat Foley from Swing Sister Swing

Cat Foley from Swing Sister Swing - Credit: Archant

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Cat was followed by Jason Charles-Nelson of Young Music Makers, a Camden-based group that aims to make music inclusive though its Saturday music sessions.

Jason shared the joy of singing, as a way to let go of our stresses and anxieties.

He helped audience members centre themselves with deep breaths and yawns before opening into vocal exercises. 

Sufficient warmed up, Jason led the way into a jazzy Sunny by Bobby Hebb, before a full sing-along through Bill Withers' Lean On Me, and Coldplay’s Fix Me.

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health was in association with the charity SANE, Camden and Islington NHS Foundation Trust and the citywide initiative Thrive LDN. It was sponsored by Barnet Fostering and the UCL Academy.

Young Music Makers was established in 1967 and offers music lessons to students of all ages, including older adults.

Its Saturday lessons are based at La Sainte Union School, in Highgate Road, and tuition is given on instruments from ukulele to trombone. It has 39 different ensembles, including eight adult groups, covering all ages and abilities.

Young Music Makers regularly fundraises to support students who need financial support.

Follow Swing Sister Swing on Instagram @swingsisterswing and visit for more on Young Music Makers.

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health

Ham&High: Our Community's Mental Health - Credit: Archant