Wellness through singing – a follow up

by Naomi Roseth, Editor

A little while ago, Christine Norris (Wellness through singing) wrote of the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual benefits of choral singing, highlighting an article by Oliver Burkeman in The Guardian.

This will sound like preaching to the converted, but it might be worthwhile pausing again to consider the health benefits of singing in a choir.  Several articles have appeared in recent times extoling these benefits.  Here are the main points emerging in two recent publications: the May edition of Limelight Magazine and the Sydney Morning Herald Sunday Life Magazine of 1 May 2016.

“Chanting and synchronising in harmony are ancient human rituals; they have sustained communities since time immemorial.  The only difference now is that we have the science to prove it”.  It is now an established fact that singing and music trigger the release of endorphins in our brain – the chemical associated with feelings of pleasure and happiness.  Taking the research a step further, scientists are now exploring the effect of singing on our levels of cortisol – the hormone responsible for stress.

Little wonder then, that people singing in choirs report a range of positive outcomes: overcoming persistent negative feelings and isolation, the joy of being connected to a greater whole, an increase in self-confidence together with a feeling of empowerment, solace in times of stress, focus and concentration, a sense of achievement.

A recent study refined the impact of choral singing to establish that choristers derive more health benefits than members of football teams who in turn derive more benefits than soloists. This suggests perhaps that belonging to a group is a more important psychological factor than the singing itself.  And why is it more beneficial to belong to a choir than to a football team?  In the words of Brett Weymark, the Director of the Sydney Philharmonia Choirs, “Choir members are constantly striving for beauty in their sound and meaning in their interpretation.  This can only be done through listening to each other and trusting in your fellow choristers.  It is not about scoring points or winning a game”.

Can you relate to that?  What does belonging to the Choir mean to you?  Let’s use Noteworthy as a means of sharing experiences.  Chat to one of the editors (Naomi Roseth and Richard Griffiths); write some notes for a future post; or send an email – click here. Your contributions are always welcome.