Why singing is good for you!
Fascinating Rhythm is a barbershop chorus, which means we love making music with our voices, but Fascinating Rhythm isn’t just about singing – it’s about fun, friendship and feeling good. We can’t wait until it’s safe to return to rehearsals because there’s something really special about being part of Fascinating Rhythm that can lift a dark mood or release tension after a tough day.
Did you know that, in addition to the beautiful harmony and the friendship that comes from being part of a choir, there are several health benefits associated with singing? We’ve asked our resident medic, Dr Hannah, to explain why singing is so good for our health and wellbeing.
Singing feels good
As humans, we are social creatures that thrive on being connected to each other. Being part of a group is good for our emotional wellbeing and has a positive impact on our physical and mental health. Our ability to make social bonds is an important part of what makes us human.
Group singing builds social connections really well, and the social bonding among choir members happens more quickly than with other hobbies. For many of our members, Fascinating Rhythm is like an extended family, and our strong social bond has seen 20-30 members Zoom into virtual rehearsals each week over the past year. And this connection has encouraged our three newest members, who joined Fascinating Rhythm just a few weeks before the first lockdown, to stick with us online!
The other great thing about singing is that it releases endorphins, which are chemicals in our bodies that give us a ‘high’ (similar to how you might feel after a run but without getting hot and sweaty)! Endorphins reduce pain sensation and increase pleasure, so they make us feel good. Activities that release endorphins are good for our physical and mental health and wellbeing.
No wonder singing feels really good for us!
Singing is good for our health.
Singing involves lots of muscles in our bodies. When we warm up for rehearsal, we include some physical activity like shoulder rolls and stretches, as well as breathing exercises for our abdominal muscles. It can be quite a physical workout! A long rehearsal can be quite physically tiring, but singing builds our stamina and muscle tone.
What’s more, singing is good for our posture. We stand with good spinal alignment, soft knees, and relaxed shoulders, and rehearsals usually involve a lot of standing up! Being sedentary is bad for our bodies, but the lockdown has reduced our opportunities to move around during the day and take regular outdoor exercise. By standing to sing, we change our posture and engage different muscles, and barbershop singing involves physical movement to the music, which adds to the exercise benefits.
It almost goes without saying that singing is also good for our lungs and breathing. The British Lung Foundation has found that singing can help people to:
– breathe more slowly and more deeply
– improve breath control (and reduce feelings of anxiety and panic)
– improve posture to breathe more efficiently
Indeed, the English National Opera is running a breathing and wellbeing programme for people who are recovering from Covid. It uses singing techniques for breathing training to improve breathlessness and reduce feelings of anxiety.
There is also evidence to suggest that singing can reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol and boost our immune systems by increasing levels of immunoglobulins that help fight disease!
Singing is good for the brain.
Singing is mentally stimulating because you have to think about notes, music and words all at the same time. Then, if you add in the four-part harmonies, a cappella (unaccompanied) singing and any choreography or movements to a song, barbershop singing becomes a whole-brain workout!
The human brain has a tremendous capacity to learn and remember songs and music. Our ability to learn new music is quite astonishing – whilst new members of our chorus often feel nervous about getting up to speed on the whole Fascinating Rhythm repertoire, most find that they can pick it up within a matter of months!
Not only that but music and singing are another part of what makes us human, and they persist in people’s memories. For example, dementia classes that use singing have been shown to improve wellbeing, maintain cognition and increase social connectivity through participation.
With so many benefits for our physical and mental health and wellbeing, perhaps singing could be the perfect post-lockdown activity?
Over the past year, the coronavirus pandemic has disrupted many of our social bonds and networks. Many people will have experienced feelings of persistent anxiety, fatigue and isolation, and those who’ve been ill with covid-19 may also have long-lasting symptoms like brain fog and breathing difficulties.
Certainly, once it is safe for us to do so, Fascinating Rhythm is looking forward to getting back on the risers together for a jolly good sing!
And if you’d like to join us, we’d love to hear from you – please get in touch via our website to find out how to become part of our Fascinating Rhythm family.
Or if you’d just like to have a go at singing from home, why not buy our CD of warm-up exercises and sing along?
You might like to see other articles in the Fascinating Rhythm Insights series:
05 – Why Warm Up?
07 – Breathing to Sing