The neuroscience of singing is proven to make us happier, healthier, smarter and more creative. Around the world, research is mounting that demonstrates the benefits of community singing.
Singing in a choir can boost your mental health, a new study has found. Researchers carried out an online survey of 375 people who sang in choirs, sang alone, or played team sports.
All three activities yielded high levels of psychological well-being – but choristers stood out as experiencing the greatest benefit.
Swedish research has suggested that it not only increases oxygen levels in the blood but triggers the release of “happy” hormones such as oxytocin, which is thought to help lower stress levels and blood pressure.
The Telegraph, By Hayley Dixon, 4 Dec 2013
The physiological benefits of singing, and music more generally, have long been explored. Music making exercises the brain as well as the body, but singing is particularly beneficial for improving breathing, posture and muscle tension. Listening to and participating in music has been shown to be effective in, too, probably due to the release of neurochemicals such as (a natural painkiller responsible for the “high” experienced after intense exercise).
There’s also some evidence to suggest that music can play a role in sustaining a healthy immune system, by reducing the stress hormone cortisol and boosting the Immunoglobin A antibody.
Singing has also been shown to improve our sense of happiness and wellbeing. Research has found, for example, that people feel more positive after actively singing than they do after passively listening to music or after chatting about positive life events. Improved mood probably in part comes directly from the release of positive neurochemicals such as β-endorphin, dopamine and serotonin. It is also likely to be influenced by changes in our sense of social closeness with others.
The Conversation, 28 October, 2015
Here are some further articles and resources:
- The benefits of music for the brain – Sarah Wilson, School of Psychological Sciences, The University of Melbourne
- The ice-breaker effect: singing mediates fast social bonding – University of Oxford
- The Brain in Singing and Language – Valerie L. Trollinger, General Music Today
- Singing ‘rewires’ damaged brain – BBC News
- Music on the brain: Researchers explore the biology of music – William J. Cromie, Harvard Gazette
- Making Singing for Health Happen – Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health
- The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders – US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health
- Does music have healing powers? Studies show music is a potent treatment for mental health – Psychology Today
- Benefits of group singing for community mental health and wellbeing – VicHealth
- How art and music therapy help people recover from tragedy and trauma, The Australian
- With One Voice choir research paper, Susan Maury
- Singing helps when learning languages, Classic FM
- Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers, Frontiers Psychology Journal, 9 July 2013
- Choir boys’ and girls’ distinctive voices studied, BBC News
- Choir singers ‘synchronise their heartbeats’, BBC World Service
- Singing as part of a choir has the same calming health benefits as yoga, study finds, National Post
- Singing in a choir is good for the heart, New Scientist
- Why Music Makes Our Brain Sing, New York Times
- Music ‘releases mood-enhancing chemical in the brain’, BBC News
- Choral singing and psychological wellbeing, Clift et al 2007
- Even A Few Years Of Music Training Benefits The Brain, Christie Wilcox, Scientific American
- Singing ‘rewires’ damaged brain, BBC
- Psychological aspects of singing development in children, Dr. Graham F. Welch, Institute of Education, London