For Sound of the Rockies, and countless other choruses, quartets, choirs and singing groups, the COVID-19 pandemic and this time of staying home and social distancing really shines a light on what we are missing when we aren’t getting together to rehearse or perform.
Simply put, we know singing makes us feel good. There’s no better de-stressor than taking to the risers and belting it out during a Thursday evening rehearsal. And, the joy of performing in front of a crowd of enthusiastic fans, is incomparable.
But beyond these obvious benefits, did you know that scientific research has shown that singing is good for your health?
In 2015, a research team with Great Britain’s Royal College of Music’s Center for Performance Science, took saliva samples and hooked electric nodes and breathing belts to 15 singers in a choir to see how their bodies behave during a rehearsal and concert.
The study found that both during the relatively low-stress rehearsal and even the performance, the act of singing reduced the ratio of the stress hormones cortisol and cortisone in singers, providing physiological data to show what we always suspected: Singing relaxes us. The study also revealed, watching a concert led people in the audience to experience reduced negative mood states such as fear, sadness or anxiety, and increased positive mood states such as relaxation and a sense of connectedness.
According to another U.K. study, scientists saw measurable benefits of singing among cancer patients including pain reduction, faster recuperation and slowing advancement of some diseases.
Findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine last year support the U.K. studies and show that singing strengthens the immune system as well. The research team from the University of Frankfurt, in Germany, tested the blood of people who sang in a professional choir, before and after a 60-minute rehearsal. The scientists discovered that concentrations of immunoglobulin A – proteins in the immune system which function as antibodies – increased significantly during the rehearsal.
Meanwhile, according to The Chorus Impact Study, conducted by the advocacy group Chorus America, being part of a chorus has a positive impact on many aspects of wellbeing, especially in singers ages 65 and up.
A survey conducted by the group, found that people who sing in a chorus feel more connected to others, and are less likely to feel isolated, they are more active in their communities and feel more tolerant toward others. Approximately, 69 percent of singers age 65 and older, reported a “very good” quality of life, compared to 22 percent of the general public in the same age group. Nearly 20 percent of older singers reported improvements in one or more chronic health conditions due to singing.
Other studies have shown that:
- Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energized and uplifted.
- Singing gives the lungs a workout, making us breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise and improving our aerobic capacity.
- Singing strengthens both our respiratory system and vocal cords.
- Singing stimulates circulation and tones abdominal and intercostal muscles.
So what should the science mean to you?
Once we all make it through the public health crisis and end our long pause from each other, come out and join Sound of the Rockies at one of our regular Thursday evening rehearsals, find a quartet to audition for, sing in church, schedule a karaoke night or just get out there and enjoy some music (check our website periodically for SOR’s updated performance schedule.) You’ll feel better for it!