Des personnes chantant ensemble

Singing workshops in psychiatric services

The strength of indegenous peoples – A song for soul


  • People with a medical condition

Time period


Music is part of life. Unfortunately, these days we often just listen to it. Yet singing has a unique effect on the body, mind and soul, especially when they are ill or injured. Christiane Feinen has been singing with patients at the Ettelbruck psychiatric centre for six years. Her singing workshops now have a large following. "Many of the participants have been coming to my singing sessions for years, and some even come from outside the centre, " she explains. "We generally sing the archaic songs of the indigenous peoples, which have a strong connection with the land and nature and can be understood by everyone, whatever their language.

It's not just about singing: handcrafted instruments such as rain sticks, rattles, an ocean drum or a wooden frog are also used. It begins with a salute to the sun, invisible behind the clouds that day. But the ancient North American Indian sun song "KUATE-LENO LENO MAHOTE, HAYANO, HAYANO, HAYANO" brings it out of hiding and puts the first smile on the faces of the participants. They dance around the campfire to the rhythm of "HAYANO HAYANO", accompanied by rattles and Christiane Feinen's frame drum. Dancing is explicitly permitted here, and for some you don't have to say it twice. After the sun comes the rain, reproduced as if by rain rattles and ocean drums. The pleasure is obvious to all. Who can best imitate the sound of rain?

Des personnes chantant ensemble

The session continues with water – MATE AROHA – via an old song from the South, melodious, calm and solemn, evoking the sea, the palm trees, the beach and the waves. The melody sways in the wind, and everyone loses themselves in their own thoughts, sometimes shedding a tear of melancholy. The ceremonial water song of the North American Indians is performed without instruments. "WISHITA TUJA…HEY" … The participants clap their feet and hands to the rhythm, gently at first (the rain is still just a small stream), then louder and louder, until it becomes a raging river and flows into the sea.

The song "OM SHANTI OM", dedicated to peace, instantly warms hearts with its calm, meditative melody, accompanied by the mantra "LOKA SAMASTA SUKINO BAVANTU". The participants sing along – "May all beings be happy" – in a calm, relaxed atmosphere. The dance floor is then taken over to re-energise: the African rhythms of "BELE MAMA" convey a pure joie de vivre that is also transmitted to the patients. They dance in a circle, singing, clapping their hands and clicking their tongues, even if their laughter doesn't make the task any easier. With "O LA MAMA", a gentle, solemn African song in homage to all mothers, calm and concentration return. The session comes to an end and we say a fond farewell. "Our patients are always in a better mood when they come out of these singing sessions, " says occupational therapist Sylvie Neves.