How Group Singing Improves Our Health and Wellbeing
I Grew Up in a Musical Family
I started playing piano lessons at an early age. My mum was a pianist and one of my favourite memories is sitting beside her on the piano stool as she played. Christmas was especially poignant as we gathered around the piano in a wonderful Christmas sing-along, creating everlasting memories.
Music, and in particular singing, has always produced in me a sense of wellbeing, especially when the daily stresses of life start to take their toll. Over the years, I have been a member of various choirs and even made an unsuccessful attempt as a backing singer in my brother’s rock band. Apart from the joy I felt during these times, there are also many health benefits that I was unknowingly reaping and to this day experience from my musical ventures.
Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand.— Stevie Wonder
The Benefits of Singing
- Increases your confidence: I don’t consider myself to be a confident singer, however, confidence is one of those things which increases over time and with practice. Try to remember that being part of a group or choir means you are never alone on the stage. Many choirs have a peer mentorship program which actively encourages and facilitates learning and bonding. Members positively support and enhance each other’s performance which results in a much more confident and enjoyable musical experience.
- Improves your social life: There is a sense of belonging and acceptance which comes with sharing a common interest. Many groups and choirs travel; this not only enriches your life, but there is the added benefit of really getting to know each other as you explore new places, helping you to create those very important social links.
- Reduces loneliness and isolation: Singing in a group or choir is not just for the young; indeed, it is equally beneficial for those young at heart. Many older people who find themselves alone often suffer from anxiety and depression as a result. Connecting with others through singing gives them a purpose, which is not only enjoyable but will ultimately improve their wellbeing and greatly enhance their social life.
- Improves cooperation: Particularly in a choir or group situation, there is a certain amount of cooperation involved if all is to go smoothly on the night. Cooperating in this way increases trust between individuals and may have a positive influence on how we cooperate in general.
- Reduce stress levels: Busy lives with deadlines to meet often leave us stressed out and tense. Even though we are physiologically wired to deal with stress, our nervous system alerts our bodies to release stress hormones which act as a coping mechanism with whatever pressure we are under. Experiencing stress on a regular basis plays havoc with our nervous system. It affects our breathing and suppresses our immune system by releasing the hormone cortisol. It also causes our muscles to tense, which may result in severe tension headaches. Scientific research has shown that singing reduces the levels of cortisol in your body, easing tension in your body, and enabling you to relax your breathing and reduce the tension in your muscles.
- Produces feelings of happiness: When you sing, your breathing is much deeper; this causes an increase in oxygen in the blood. This triggers the release of endorphins which improve our mood levels, making us feel happier. Singing in a group or choir actually heightens this feeling and also releases oxytocins, which is known as ‘the cuddle hormone’, increasing a sense of trust and helping you to bond.
- Mental alertness is improved: As more oxygen reaches the brain, concentration, memory and overall mental alertness is improved. Singing is particularly beneficial for those people who suffer from dementia as it assists in helping them maintain their memories.
- Improves mental health: Many people who suffer from mental health issues are aware of the stigma attached to mental health and how detrimental it can be to their diagnosis and recovery. By joining a choir or group, they are part of a community where they feel safe in the knowledge that they are accepted for who they are. As a result, many people experience increased feelings of enjoyment, wellbeing and a sense of belonging, which impacts positively on their mental health.
- Improves posture: Singing is a great way to improve your posture, especially if you have a tendency to slouch. In order to sing properly you need to have good posture, otherwise your rib cage will not be able to expand fully. This, in turn, affects the amount of room your lungs have to expand, resulting in you not being able to breathe in enough air. Therefore, when you try to sing, your voice will be constrained, making you sing out of tune. It’s a good idea to practice standing tall on a regular basis, as good posture is the key to singing well.
- Body workout: If you want great abs then singing can achieve this without you even realising it. Exhaling activates your core muscles by contracting them, and they will continue to contract until that next breath. Additionally, taking a deep breath and slowly exhaling activates the lower abs, and has the same benefits as an exercise such as ‘The Plank’ with little effort.
- Relieves neck tension: Sitting in front of a computer all day may lead to a build-up of tension, especially in the upper back and chest areas. This causes stiffness in the shoulders and neck which can be quite painful. Singing can alleviate this pain because, as you warm up your vocal cords, the strain in these areas will diminish and the pain will disappear.
There are a variety of ways we can improve our singing such as singing lessons, joining a choir or being part of a group. Personally, regardless of the venue—whether it’s in the shower, part of a choir or group, or around the piano at Christmastime— singing conjures up wonderful memories of family, friendship and love. Most of all, singing simply makes me happy.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
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© 2018 Lorna Lamon