Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Just Sing!

"If you can walk you can dance, if you can talk you can sing."
- Zimbabwean proverb

Music evolved as a social tool. The pleasure from singing together provides an evolutionary reward for gathering cooperatively, instead of staying isolated in caves. When we sing, the musical vibrations move and energize our body. Sounds fuel and alter our physical and emotional states.

Dr. Julene K. Johnson, a researcher who has focused on older singers, began a five-year study to examine group singing as a method to improve the health and well-being of older adults. He found that group singing becomes both exhilarating and transformative. Songs shared with other individuals return as thrills to all. Harmony adds to the delight.

Graham Welch,  professor of music education at the Institute of Education, spokesperson for the National singing program for school children, Sing Up, commented, “Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavor.” 

Singing in front of a crowd, like karaoke, also builds confidence and well-being. Tra La La La La.

Researchers have discovered that singing is like a tranquilizer that soothes nerves and elevates spirits. 

Elation arises from endorphins, associated with feelings of pleasure. Singing releases them. 

Oxytocin, another hormone that cycles during singing, alleviates anxiety, stress, and enhances feelings of trust and bonding. 

Studies have found that singing lessens feelings of loneliness and depression.  

Singing also provides some of the same effects as exercise, with the release of endorphins. The singer experiences an overall lifted feeling and stress reduction. 

As an aerobic activity, singing provides more oxygen into the blood for enhanced circulation, to promote a good mood. 

Singing requires deep breathing, another anxiety reducer.

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D summarizes the beneficial effects of singing alone and in groups:

1. Memorizing the words to songs improves brain function, including the ability to store and retrieve memory.
2. The exercises associated with group singing improve deep breathing and that has the added benefit of adding to relaxation and stress reduction.
3. Performing in front of an audience and as part of a group inspires self-confidence and self-esteem.
4. Group interaction in a singing group ends social isolation and fosters relationships of all kinds.
5. Group participation is fun and allows people to get away from daily stresses and worries.

Energize in song.  Sing in the shower.  Sing in the car.  Sing on and on.  

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