“Sing, sing a song Make it simple to last your whole life long Don’t worry that it’s not good enough For anyone else to hear Just sing, sing a song”-Joe Raposo
This tune made famous by Karen and Richard Carpenter is a charming invitation to express yourself through the beauty of music. Do you sing in the shower or the car? How many of us were told to mouth the words since our voices were not ready for prime time? On the flip side, how many enjoy the experience of vocalizing so much that we are not concerned with how we sound? An avid amateur singer might reminisce about her father’s unpolished singing style and gritty voice, thinking “What he lacked in talent, he more than made up for in enthusiasm.”
Did you sing in a school choir and if so, do you have fond memories of sharing your passion for music in a group setting and the excitement of performing in front of family and friends at a holiday concert or spring recital? When singing in a choir, whether in childhood or adulthood, you may come to feel a sense of belonging, a shared accomplishment as you behold the ebb and flow of voices harmoniously raised in song.
What if singing could be life enhancing or even potentially lifesaving? In a recent Washington Post article entitled “Singing is good for you. Singing with others may be even better.,” writer Alexandra Poe shares stories about those living with cancer, as well as family and professional caregivers who gathered for two years to raise their voices in song. They were part of the Sing With Us study, the purpose of which was to determine the benefits of singing with others.
The outcome of the study that included 193 participants “revealed that a single choir session reduced stress hormones and increased levels of immune proteins in people affected by cancer. The longitudinal aspect of the study showed that singing significantly decreased anxiety and increased wellbeing for caregivers and improved self-efficacy and self-esteem for those who had been bereaved. Qualitative data explored the mechanisms behind these effects, highlighting building resilience and meeting existential changes as key components of what enabled singing to result in these benefits.”
The Washington Post article also addresses the post COVID challenges with breathing and indicates that singing might be one way to adjust ‘over breathing,’ and provide soothing relief.
There are numerous benefits to singing, whether as a leisure activity or as a profession:
- Improved cognitive functioning and memory
- Lower stress levels
- Increased ‘happy hormones’ known as endorphins
- Increased lung capacity and easier breathing
- Reduction of anxiety from diaphragmatic breathing
- Lowered blood pressure
- A sense of bonding as it brings people together for a shared purpose
- Re-direction of troubling thoughts with a focus on the music instead
- Improved brain performance through the memorization of lyrics
- Increased sense of joy
“Everyone deserves music, sweet music.”-Michael Franti