Benefits of Singing

We could write pages and pages on this topic, but here’s a little summary of the benefits to both communities and the individual:

Healthier and more active people and communities - The research available on singing identifies some key physical benefits. It exercises major muscle groups in the upper body. It is an aerobic activity that improves the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and encourages you to take more oxygen into your body, leading to increased alertness. Aerobic activity is linked to stress reduction, longevity and better overall health. Improved airflow in the upper respiratory tract is likely to lessen the opportunity for bacteria to flourish there, countering the symptoms of colds and flu. Singing also aids the development of motor control and coordination, and recent studies have shown that it improves neurological functioning. Also, your body produces ‘feel good’ hormones called endorphins, like eating a bar of chocolate without the calories.

Benefits to older people in particular - Professor Grenville Hancox, director of music at Canterbury Christ Church University leads a team that has just published a study into community singing for older people that found it has noticeable wellbeing and mental health benefits. By monitoring five singing groups made up of those over sixty years of age against a control group, the research shows that the singing group recorded better health both immediately and three months after the project’s completion. Through a series of questionnaires, those in the singing groups recorded benefits such as increased sociability and improvement in breathing. The researchers suggest that community singing may be as cost effective as running health promotion campaigns. (Published: 14-01-2013). The professor aims to get the NHS to provide "singing on prescription".

People have better chances in life – "He who sings frightens away his ills," said Cervantes. There is nothing like singing for generating that feel good factor. "It's almost indescribable," says singer and singing coach Helen Astrid. "It's an incredible endorphin rush. You feel like you've got a spring in your step. You feel like you're being totally true to yourself...” A person who is singing regularly will have a much more positive frame of mind and will therefore be much more confident and successful in life.

Stronger communities –  Colette Hiller, director of Sing The Nation, is convinced that singing with other people can help individuals connect to each other, and to their environment. "Think of a football stadium with everyone singing," she says. "There's an excitement, you feel part of it, singing bonds people and always has done. There's a goosebumpy feeling of connection." She cites some research in Italy that demonstrated a link between the vigour of local choirs and the level of civic engagement.  When people sing together there is an increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour.

Improved urban environments – Advocates of singing lament its diminishing role in our lives since the days when we sang round the piano in the pub and to pass the working day, to soothe babies and to mark moments of celebration and sorrow. Nowadays people are absorbed in their electronic gadgets in an introverted introspection and have lost the ability to sing, but singing makes us better, and makes us feel better and we should all be doing more of it. It is linked to the primacy and power of the human voice and our basic instinct to use it.