Who enjoys a good sing - in the shower, in the car, around the house? More to the point - who doesn't? 🎤🎵
So, what is it about singing that makes us feel good?
Let's start with the science:
Singing releases endorphines - those 'feel good' hormones that also get released when eating chocolate (another favourite passtime of mine!) and excercising. Endorphines are also your body's natural pain reliever, so a good thing all round!
Singing is an 'aerobic' activity - this means that it gets more oxygen into the blood to give better circulation. This bascially means that it's likely to put you in a good mood.
Singing increases oxytocin (also known as the 'love' hormone) which promotes empathy, trust and relationship bonding. As an aside, this highlights the importance of singing to your baby/young child (in my experience, singing to your teenager does nothing but embarass them - but that could just be my children!).
Singing requires deep breathing - this is also key for meditation and other relaxtion techniques. It is known to reduce anxiety.
In short, singing can help to relieve pain, put you in a good mood, reduce anxiety and help you to bond with others - how amazing is that?
So, what else about singing makes us feel good?
Do you have a favourite song that brings back memories of a good time?
Maybe it's the song that you had your first dance to at your wedding? Maybe it's a song that reminds you of days as a young person?
Have you ever been to see a band performing live?
Most of us remember our favourite pop group as a teenager - does listening to their music make you feel good? Maybe it brings you back to days that weren't so happy - whatever it makes you feel, it's very likely to trigger some kind of emotion.
I have songs that give me energy (great for housework!), songs that make me feel happy (ABBA is guaranteed to do this) and songs that might make me feel a little sad because of the words in the song or because of a particular memory that it triggers.
A little bit controversial, I know, but I also love all the Christmas songs that get played in December!
Many people create playlists or have collections of songs for different purposes - I have a 'housework' collection, a collection of Summer Holiday songs and, of course, a few different collections of Christmas songs.
Put simply, most of us will have songs that are linked with memories which trigger emotions.
In addition to this, many songs are written specifically to make us feel a certain way - with the words, with the chords and key of the music and other tricks used by composers to help arouse emotion in people.
What is it about singing in a choir that people particularly enjoy?
When you join a choir, you find yourself in a community.
Remember the 'love' hormone, oxytocin, mentioned above? It promotes empathy and trust and it promotes relationship bonding. In other words, singing with others is a great basis for building a great support network - just one of the reasons that singing in a choir is often linked with mental health and wellbeing.
Many organisations build on this by offering choirs to people with shared experiences - one of the choirs I run is for unpaid carers and the support they give each other is a huge benefit which I see whenever we meet.
My daytime choir is friendly and welcoming - whilst it's a good mix of generations, everybody gets on well and welcomes new members. It's not about how well you can sing and what you can offer the group vocally, it's about coming together to sing songs that make us all feel good. As the choir build and begin to do more together, they will develop their own shared experiences.
How about you?
Do you already sing in a choir? I'd love to hear if you can relate to what I've written or if you have experiences that I haven't written about?
Not sure if you can sing well enough? Community choirs are set up for people like you - our daytime choirs have no requirement to be a 'singer' or read music. Just come along and give it a go - you will find that nobody judges you and you may be surprised by the lovely sound you make when you join in and hear those wonderful harmonies!
Are you sitting on the fence and not sure if choir is for you? There's only one way to find out - why not give it a go? I'd love to know how you get on!