Singing is good for your health. As a vocal coach, that’s easy for me to say as singing is my passion and, for me, a mental, physical and spiritual need. But if you have ever sung in a choir, a vocal group, a church or a football stadium, you know what I am talking about. Singing makes you smile. Singing makes you stand tall and proud. Singing gives you energy, radiance. It is good for you
Why is that? The fact that singers are jolly people (quote my first singing teacher, the awesome Canadian vocalist Janice Jackson), is partly because of deep breathing and the circulation of oxygen in our bloodstream. If you sing, you automatically submit to the impulse of breathing more deeply. And as we normally – in our daily, stressful lives – tend to take shallow breaths only, we immediately feel the effect of three or more deep breaths in a row. One of the main effects is that you feel more relaxed, more at ease.
Research links music (one group listening to music and one group singing together) with the production of endorphins, those substances made in the brain and released into the body to make you feel happy. It turns out that listening to music makes the listener happy, but those in the research group that had sung together had way more endorphines measured in their blood!
A more spiritual explanation of why singing together is so beneficial is this: singing together, and even more so singing in two parts or more rather than in unison, makes us feel connected at a very deep level. Singing together is a communication form which functions on a level that is very different from just talking together.
The German poet Heinrich Heine said: ‘Music begins where words stop.’ Perhaps that sense of connexion is comparable to the howling of a pack of wolves. Making a noise on a high level of tonal vibration, no words needed, probably makes the participants feel connected, or safe, or relaxed, or all of those things. To me, it is nothing less than magical.
I experience this every time I work with vocal groups, be it a choir or individual singers participating in workshops or singing classes. Any differences in age, talent, education, beliefs, they fall away. Before the day is over, people who never met before are enjoying a relationship which is natural, spontaneous, loving. And they know nothing about each other, except that they love singing! When people sing together, the only thing one really needs from the other is the voice. When that voice has resounded, with its own personal beauty – be it high or low, bright or dark, unusual or ordinary – all feel good ingredients are there.
So go for it. Even if you think your voice is nothing special. If you love to sing, you’ve got to go out there. Go sing and share your voice. There are other voices out there waiting to blend with yours.