Did you know that singing is good for your health?
The experience of singing, and particularly singing in a group, has the following perceived benefits:-
Physical relaxation and release of physical tension
Emotional release and reduction of feelings of stress
A sense of happiness, positive mood, joy, elation and feeling high
A sense of greater personal, emotional and physical wellbeing
An increased sense of arousal and energy
Stimulation of cognitive capacities – attention, concentration, memory, learning
A sense of being absorbed in an activity which draws on multiple capacities of the body and the mind
A sense of collective bonding through coordinated activity following the same pulse
The potential for personal contact with others who are like-minded and the development of personal supportive friendships and constructive collaborative relationships
A sense of contributing to a product which is greater than the sum of its parts
A sense of personal transcendence beyond mundane and everyday realities, being put in touch with a sense of beauty and something beyond words, which is moving or good for the soul
An increased sense of self-confidence and self-esteem
A sense of therapeutic benefit in relation to long-standing psychological and social problems (e.g. depression, a history of abuse, problems with drugs and alcohol, social disadvantage)
A sense of contributing to the wider community through public performance
A sense of exercising systems of the body through the physical exertion involved in singing – especially the lungs
A sense of disciplining the skeletal-muscular system through the adoption of good posture
Being engaged in a valued, meaningful, worthwhile activity that gives a sense of purpose and motivation
A number of studies stand out as making important contributions to what is clearly a field of research in an early stage of development:
Bailey and Davidson (2002, 2005 show powerfully that amateur group singing can have benefits for participants across a wide social spectrum from homeless men singing together, to middle class singers in traditional choral societies.
Louhivouri et al. (2005) link research on choral singing to the wider issue of ‘social capital’
The essential structures and processes are involved (physically, physiologically and psychologically) in the production of the ‘speaking voice’ and the ‘singing voice.’
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has sponsored a large-scale international collaborative programme of work on health-related quality of life, which has elaborated and operationalised the WHO definition of health as,
‘a complete state of physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely an absence of illness or infirmity’
Conceptual and theoretical developments in the field of ‘wellbeing’ have seen
a remarkable growth in recent years and the edited volume by Huppert, Baylis and Keverne (2005) represents a landmark text in this energetic area of work.
Further work on singing, wellbeing and health needs to take note of these recent conceptual and theoretical developments.