There has been a huge rise in the popularity of choirs in the United Kingdom due in part to the popularity of Gareth Malone’s reality TV programmes and his hugely successful hits with the Military Wives’ Choir.
The Fron Choir is one of the most successful choirs in the country and is always on the look-out for new members. But, apart from having great fun with good mates, what's in it for me? you ask . . .
Let's take a look at how good singing in the Fron can be for you and your wellbeing . . .
1. Social Benefits of Singing
Singing can widen your circle of friends
Whether you’re in a choir or simply enjoy singing karaoke with your friends, one of the unexpected health benefits of singing is that it can improve your social life. The bonds you form singing with others can be profound since there’s a level of intimacy naturally involved. We all say you join the Fron and as a side effect, you gain 60 plus new friends.
Singing boosts your confidence
Stage fright is a common feeling for new singers. However, performing well and receiving praise from your friends and family may be the key to eventually overcoming your fears and boosting your self-confidence. With time, you may even find it easier to present any type of material in front of a group with poise and good presentation skills.
Singing broadens communication skills
According to an article in The Guardian, singing to babies helps prepare their brains for language. Music is just as important as teaching reading and writing at a young age to prevent language problems later in life. As we grow older though music, especially in a choir, can help you to improve pronunciation, diction and even help you learn more about other languages.
Singing increases your ability to appreciate other singers
Sometimes, you don’t realize how difficult something is until you try it yourself. As you grow from a probationer to a more experienced choir member, you’ll be looking to the masters for inspiration. You might even find a new style of music to appreciate that you wouldn’t normally listen to!
2. Physical Benefits of Singing
Singing strengthens the immune system
Research has shown that singing boosts the immune system. In a study, the saliva of members of an amateur choir was tested before and after an hour-long rehearsal of Mozart’s Requiem (don't panic we don't get that heavy). The researchers found that the levels of Immunoglobin A (IgA), an antibody that plays a crucial role in the immune system, increased significantly after singing. The same increase was not seen after the same choir members listened passively to a CD of the same music. In another study, the level of IgA was found to increase by a factor of 2.5 after singing Beethoven's Missa Solemnis - so it's not just the magic of Mozart that does it!
Singing is a workout
For the elderly, disabled, and injured, singing can be an excellent form of exercise. Even if you’re healthy, your lungs will get a workout as you employ proper singing techniques and vocal projections. Other related health benefits of singing include a stronger diaphragm and stimulated overall circulation. Since you pull in a greater amount of oxygen while singing than when doing many other types of exercise, some even believe that singing can increase your aerobic capacity and stamina. Singing on stage can also involve standing for an extended period of time and during a demanding performance such a competition you will feel as if you have had a session in the gym when you come off stage.
Singing improves your posture
Standing up straight is part of correct technique as you’re singing, so with time, good posture will become a habit! As your chest cavity expands and your shoulders and back align, you're improving your posture overall.
Singing helps with sleep
Snoring is no joke - especially for your partner! Research carried out at Exeter University has shown that after a three-month programme of daily singing exercises the tone and strength of the pharyngeal (throat and palate) muscles of patients suffering from snoring, and more seriously, sleep apnoea was improved As a result, the severity, frequency and loudness of snoring was reduced and the symptoms of mild to moderate sleep apnoea were improved. Good news for sufferers and good news for their partners!
3. Psychological & Emotional Benefits of Singing
Singing is a natural antidepressant
Singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes you feel uplifted and happy. It also releases a hormone called oxytocin, which is involved in human bonding and affection. Scientists have also identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Not only that but getting lost in the music can simply take your mind off the day’s troubles and boost your feeling of wellbeing.
Singing lowers stress levels
Making music in any form is relaxing. In the same study that looked at the beneficial effect on the immune system of singing in a choir, the researchers looked at the levels of cortisol in the singers. Cortisol is released by the body in response to stress and too much of it is a bad thing. Surprisingly, the researchers found that the cortisol level in all the members of the choirs was much lower than in the general population even before they started singing. So the beneficial effects are lasting. When singing in a choir you will find you are one hundred per cent focused on what you are doing and your worries or stress will disappear, at least while you're singing!
Singing improves mental alertness
It's long been believed that singing in the choir is good for memory and can even help people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's Disease. Now science is backing that up. For example, the Alzheimer’s Society is running a study called Singing for the Brain which is exploring the health and well-being benefits of singing for people with dementia and their carers.
This is how the scientist think that singing in a choir can help:
For an inspiring story of how singing in a choir can help Alzheimer sufferers look here.