Sing to Happiness

Sing to Happiness

by Emma Lindsey | January 1, 2020

There has been much evidence in recents years showing the positive effects that singing can have on our lives. So much so that GPs are now prescribing it

The benefits of singing

Singing releases feel good chemicals, endorphins, which elevate our mood and reduce stress. Singing can also be a cathartic experience, where you feel psychological relief through expressing strong emotions as you sing. It can offer physical benefits such as increased lung function and improved posture. The best news is that we can all sing. It does take practice to sing nicely and in tune, but it is possible for everyone. 

We have also seen the helpful effects that singing can have on the lives of people with specific illnesses such as dementia, Parkinson’s, mental health issues, post-natal depression, strokes and lung conditions.

Singing in a group

The benefits that we are seeing are not just as a result of singing, but from the act of singing within a group. Group singing can lead to new social connections and the opportunity to belong to a community. Everyone in this community has a share in the responsibility for creating the sound of that choir. Every voice and every personality makes a difference. It is one of the things that I love about being in a choir – it’s all down to TEAMwork: Together Everyone Achieves More. Every person in a choir counts!

The American suffragette, Alice Paul said of the suffragette movement that ‘each of us puts in one little stone and then you get a great mosaic at the end’. Every stone is added and it can be big or small, brown or bright blue, shiny or dull, but regardless it contributes to the overall picture. In choirs, we individually add our voice to the mix and no matter what our voice is like, we contribute to the overall sound and if that voice was missing the sound would be different.

By singing in a group, members experience a sense of joint endeavour, achievement and growing in confidence as a team, as well as an individual. In addition, a rehearsal with other people can be a welcome distraction from day-to-day worries or require so much concentration that it is impossible to think about anything else for a couple of hours. The ability to perform, to deal with nerves and to communicate and listen are all valuable transferable skills for everyday life. Choir members are lifelong learners and brilliant and dedicated team players. There is even scientific evidence that choir members’ heartbeats synchronise! 

Singing with people can simply be about satisfying our primal need for emotional connection and this not only happens in formal settings such as choirs, but informally as a group to wish someone a happy birthday, in the stands at a football match, at a protests or at a wedding or funeral. We sing to share a common feeling. Emotion is at the core of it all and group singing has always been a part of our history as humans.

Joining a choir

In the UK there are 40,000 choirs and 2 million people singing in them. The choral world is booming. The choirs range in style, structure, age, size and ability. There are so many options. If you are considering, singing your way to happiness in a choir, it is really important that you join the right one for you: that sings music that you like, that uses or does not use sheet music, that has people that you can get along with and the culture and level of singing that you are happy with.

I have seen the power that choral singing has to positively enhance people’s lives time and time again. For everyone the benefits of singing in a choir are different. Whether it is because they feel connected to or valued by other human beings, whether it has encouraged them to keep learning or the physical activity of singing, or to look out for fellow choir members or sing at charitable events or just to very present in the moment and connected to our emotions, choral singing makes us happy and healthy.