Singing your way to health and happiness
Whether you’re an amateur shower maestro; or part of a community choral group, scientific research has confirmed that belting out a tune can provide a whole range of benefits to our physical health and psychological wellbeing.
Almost anyone can attest to the warm, fuzzy, feel-good vibes that follow a good session of singing, in this article we’ll explore why singing is so beneficial, and how to get involved.
Fact #1: Singing improves mood
Research shows that singing releases a powerful combination of two hormones that boost mood and lower stress – endorphin and oxytocin. Endorphin, commonly known as the ‘happy hormone,' helps to block pain and is responsible for feelings of satisfaction and pleasure; while oxytocin, known as the ‘love hormone,' promotes trust and bonding.
Activities that promote a release of endorphin and oxytocin, like exercise and singing, have been shown to improve mood, alleviate depression and anxiety, and have both immediate and long-term positive effects on health, happiness and overall wellbeing.
On top of the release of feel good hormones, singing can have a meditative effect. Some researchers have likened the deep breathing and concentration required when singing to meditation techniques and suggest that singing carries the same mood-boosting benefits. Like meditation, singing can promote a sense of being present and in the moment, and allows the singer to enter a stress-free zone away from everyday thoughts and worries.
Fact #2: Singing has physiological benefits
Researchers consider singing an aerobic activity, just like going for a walk. While singing probably isn't going to make your calf muscles stronger, it will provide some of the physiological benefits associated with aerobic exercise.
In addition to releasing endorphin and oxytocin and sending the singer into a state of zen, singing can also lead to increased circulation and improved lung function. Some researchers have even suggested that it strengthens the immune system by increasing concentrations of immunoglobulin A in the blood.
Singing is also great for your brain. The act of singing can often involve learning and remembering lyrics and harmonies, and learning how to work as a group. Keeping your brain active by participating in lifelong learning has been shown to ward off age-related cognitive dysfunction. Lifelong learning also has a positive impact on confidence, happiness and sense of wellbeing.
Fact #3: Singing promotes belonging and connectedness
While solo singing is great, studies have shown that singing in a group is where the most positive impacts are felt. The release of oxytocin and the feeling of bonding and love that follows is more pronounced when singing in a group setting rather than alone. Performing with a group, or in front of a group, can also have a great impact on a person’s confidence and self-esteem.
Regularly participating in an activity that gets you out of the house and socialising with others has been shown to be particularly beneficial for people as they begin to age. Singing as part of a group promotes connectedness, belonging and inclusion. It can also lead to budding new friendships, and a widened support network.
How to get involved in singing
If you don’t need any more convincing, and you’re keen to get involved, the opportunities are abundant.
Creativity Australia’s With One Voice choirs welcome all people of all backgrounds and abilities from ages 9 to 90. They have local choirs across Australia in the following locations: Altona, Ashburton, Brisbane, Geelong, Greater Dandenong, Melbourne, Royal Freemasons, St Kilda and Sydney.
Sing Australia host local singing groups that are welcoming and inclusive of all singers, regardless of ability. They run a large number of groups across Australia, to find one near you visit their website.
Tarneit's Goss Community Choir is a popular music choir based in Truganina. No singing experience is required. At the time of writing this article, the Tarneit Choir meets on Wednesdays from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Ardnell Park Community Centre, Federation Boulevard Truganina.
Yes! You can sing is a Mornington Peninsula based organisation that offers both private lessons and group programs. Yes! You can sing runs two senior singing groups, The Village Glen Singers that perform in the community and meet for rehearsals on Wednesdays from 10am to 11 am at The Village Glen, Rosebud.
Acappella Central is a website dedicated to bringing together choirs, Acappella groups, and choral enthusiasts from across Australia. They have an extensive list of community choirs available via their choirs and groups page.
If solo lessons are more your speed, there are many options to choose from, Music Teachers Online is a great resource to start with to find someone in your local area.
And finally, if you’re keen to watch and enjoy others, the Mornington Peninsula Choral Festival is a yearly event that runs in March, bringing together a program of activities featuring groups from across the region.
- Time > Singing changes your brain
- Creativity Australia > Choirs + singing > choir research
- The Sydney Morning Herald > Choral singing makes you happy: survey
- Medical News Today > understanding why group singing helps in dementia
- Classic FM > Science says music is good for you and Eric Whitacre has proved it
- The Royal Society Open Science > The ice-breaker effect: singing mediates fast social bonding
- Science > How stuff works > Does singing make you happy?