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The Importance of Singing

Recently I went into a convenience store for a couple of items; soon several customers and I were talking and laughing with the cashier. Suddenly, the cashier turned to me and asked, “What do you do?” My puzzlement was obvious, because he repeated, “What do you do? Like yoga or meditation. What do you do to have such a good outlook on life?”

 

“I sing,” was my simple reply.

  

The Importance of Singing

by Carol Steen, PP Rotary eClub One

For years, we have heard that laughter is the best medicine, but now, it seems, choral singing is being recognized as a strong influence on mental and physical health.  A study published in Frontiers in Psychology states that “choral singers had slower respiration, which in turn improved their heart rate variability and had biologically soothing effect on overall heart function.”  Singing has also been found to reduce sleep apnea, lower stress, and strengthen immunity.

All of the health improvements aside, singing, especially choral singing, is just plain fun. The bonds formed with other singers are strong, and people have improved emotional health as well.

 

Standing in the House of Friendship at the RI Convention in Birmingham, UK, I was listening to a Welsh men’s choir sing an old hymn. The woman next to me, a stranger from Nigeria, started singing along in a lovely soprano voice. As I added my alto, we scooted together. At the end of the choral performance we headed off to have a cup of tea together…two women from different continents, brought together in harmony.

 

 

You don’t have to be a trained singer to get benefits from vocal music. Humming, even off tune, is said to take up spaces in the brain that might otherwise be occupied by pain.  And Car Karaoke, evidently, burns as many calories an hour as singing with the most accomplished vocal group.  

 

"Whether you’re Pavarotti or your voice scares the cat,

singing can be good for your physical and mental health."

                        – Ruth Rosselson

 

            Ancient peoples told musical stories through vocal music and thus passed along traditions in a memorable way. Where there was no written language, songs often helped nomadic groups to remember directions as they traveled in unmarked wilderness.

 

The only thing better than singing is more singing. – Ella Fitzgerald

           

Singing’s power to bring people together, to lower stress, and to energize is being recognized and utilized in various parts of Australia.  One group gathers in a small town on the first Sunday of the month. People come by the carload, pay a slight fee, and sing under direction for an hour or so. They break for dinner, more often than not continuing to sing as they set up and serve the meal. After cleaning up, they gather to sing some more, then leave for the ride home – singing as they go.

            In inner cities in Australia, community choruses are established to, again, bring people together, relieve stress, and make a joyful noise.  Studies have shown that when more people sing in groups, there’s a higher level of involvement in a community.  Community pride is developed, and there’s more understanding among people.

 

“Singing seems to help a troubled soul.”

From “Daddy Sang Bass” by Carl Perkins (also recorded by Johnny Cash)

 

 

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Sources are: “Singing is Good for You,” a paper given to the National Rural Health Conference, Canberra, Australia, April 2002, by Fay White, plus personal experiences of the author who currently sings tenor in a men’s vocal group and alto in her church choir.




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