The following information was written by Sara Harris and Jenevora Williams, research and editing carried out by Kristine Carroll-Porczynski. It is supported by The British Voice Association.
For years singers and singing teachers have been reporting anecdotal accounts suggesting that singing is good for health and wellbeing. Finally research is providing us with evidence to support their findings.
Singing makes you feel good: Recent studies show that singing has a significant effect on people’s sense of wellbeing [1, 2]. Questionnaires show that people who sing regularly report higher levels of emotional stability and wellbeing.
Singing improves your health: Singing has been shown to have a positive effect on our immune systems, helping us to ward off disease . It affects our heart rates; choirs have been shown to synchronise their heart and breathing rates, increasing and decreasing them in response to the music . It also appears to help reduce high blood pressure . Singing improves our breath control, even for people with lung conditions such as asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) . Patients suffering from neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, stroke and dementia have all been show to benefit from regular singing in terms of communication, sociability, reduction in aggression and improved mood [8, 9].
Singing improves confidence and self perception: One of the most valued benefits noticed by singers in these studies is that of improved self confidence and self worth [10, 11]. Singing in a group particularly helps people with low self esteem develop friendships which can impact positively on their social and work lives .
Singing and brain development: Advances in technology have allowed us to see directly how singing and music affect the brain. During singing and exposure to music, complex connections occur throughout the brain . Accessing these broad connections regularly through singing/ music appears to boost creativity and our ability to solve problems .
Singing for children’s educational development: Children singing in choirs have improved self-esteem and sense of social inclusion . There is also a direct causal link related to the acquisition of fine-motor skills, memorisation abilities, the expression of emotion and the rewards of group activity . Singing has important implications for children’s education .
REFERENCES 1. Clift, S., et al., Choral singing and psychological wellbeing: Quantitative and qualitative findings from English choirs in a cross-national survey. Journal of Applied Arts and Health, 2010. 1(1): p. 19-34. 2. Tonneijck, H.I.M., A. Kinebanian and S. Josephsson, An exploration of choir singing: achieving wholeness through challenge. Journal of Occupational Science, 2008. 15(3): p. 173-80. 3. Talwar, N., et al., Music therapy for in-patients with schizophrenia. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2006. 189: p. 405-409. 4. Beck, R.J., et al., Choral singing, performance perception, and immune system changes in salivary immunoglobulin A and cortisol. Music Perception, 2000. 18(1): p. 87-106. 5. Vickhoff, B., et al., Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers, Front Psychol. 2013. 4: p. 334. 6. Valentine, E. and C. Evans, The effects of solo singing, choral singing and swimming on mood and psychological indices. British Journal of Medical Psychology, 2001. 74: p. 115-120. 7. Morrison, I. and S.M. Clift, Singing and People with COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease). In: Singing Wellbeing and Health: context, evidence and practice. Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health. Canterbury Christ Church University (http://ww.canterbury.ac.uk/Research/Centres/SDHR/ Documents/SingingandpeoplewithCOPD.pdf ) ISBN 978-1909067042. 8. Myska, A. and P.G. Nord, ‘The day the music died’: a pilot study on music and depression in a nursing home. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 2008. 17(1): p. 30-40. 9. Särkämö T, et al., Cognitive, Emotional, and Social Benefits of Regular Musical Activities in Early Dementia: Randomized Controlled Study. Gerontologist, 2013 Sep 5 Epub ahead of print. 10. Jacob, C., C. Guptill and T. Sumsion, Motivation for continuing involvement in a leisure-based choir: the lived experiences of university choir members. Journal of Occupational Science, 2009. 16(3): p. 187-93. 11. Pavlakou, M., Benefits of group singing for people with eating disorders: preliminary findings from a nonclinical study. Approaches: music therapy and special music education, 2009. 1(1): p. 30-48. 12. Bailey, B.A. and J.W. Davidson, Effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class singers. Psychology of Music, 2005. 33(3): p. 269-303. 13. Racette, A., C. Bard and I. Peretz, Making non-fluent aphasics speak: sing along! Brain, 2006. 129(10): p. 2571-84. 14. Noice, T., H. Noice and A.F. Kramer, Participatory Arts for Older Adults: A Review of Benefits and Challenges. Gerontologist, 2013. 15. Welch, G., et al., The impact of Sing Up: an independent research-based evaluation - the story so far, 2010, International Music Education Research Centre. Institute of Education, University of London: London. ISBN 978-1905351138. 16. Schellenberg, E.G., Long-term positive associations between music lessons and IQ. Journal of Educational Psychology, 2006 98(2): p. 457-468 17. Hallam, S., The power of music: Its impact on the intellectual, social and personal development of children and young people. International Journal of Music Education, 2010. 28(3): p. 269-289. 330 Gray’s Inn Road, London WC1X 8EE Tel: +44 (0)300 123 2773 Fax: +44 (0)20 3456 5092 email: Leaflet written by Sara Harris and Jenevora Williams, with grateful thanks to Kristine Carroll-Porczynski for help with research and editing. ‘Singing is good for you’ diagram based on the work of Milton Mermikides from Williams: ‘Teaching Singing to Children and Young Adults’, Compton Publishing Ltd., October 2012.