Why We Sing
The seniors who are still singing in a seniors’ choir have many reasons to continue this hobby. Most have been singing since they were children, some have even had singing lessons, and others sing professionally. Now, having reached “a certain age,” singing becomes an enjoyable pastime. Being retired one can attend practices in the morning rather than having to drive after dark. Once one joins a choir one discovers many other benefits—physical, psychological and emotional. Possibly the most enjoyable aspect of a choir is the social benefits which include widening one’s circle of friends, boosting one’s confidence and broadening communication skills. If one enjoys writing their own lyrics, honing this talent can improve one’s ability to communicate in different ways! How can one resist?
Thinking about the physical benefits of singing research has been done on a variety of areas. A research study at the University of Frankfurt showed that singing boosts the immune system. The study included testing professional choir members’ blood before and after an hour-long rehearsal singing Mozart’s “Requiem.” The researchers noticed that in most cases, the amount of proteins in the immune system that function as antibodies, known as Immunoglobulin A, were significantly higher immediately after the rehearsal. The same increases were not observed after the choir members passively listened to music.
Other physical benefits included giving lungs a workout as singers employ proper singing techniques and vocal projections. Related benefits include strengthening the diaphragm and stimulating overall circulation. Some even believe that singing can increase aerobic capacity and stamina since singing pulls in a greater amount of oxygen than when doing many other types of exercise. Two other benefits include improving posture and helping with sleep. Standing up straight is part of correct technique when singing. And according to a health article in Daily Mail Online, experts believe singing can help strengthen throat and palate muscles, which helps stop snoring and sleep apnea.
Finally, what are the psychological and emotional benefits of singing? First singing is known to release endorphins, the feel-good brain chemical that makes one feel uplifted and happy. In addition, scientists have identified a tiny organ in the ear called the sacculus, which responds to the frequencies created by singing. The response creates an immediate sense of pleasure, regardless of what the singing sounds like. Not only that but singing can simply take your mind off the day’s troubles to boost your mood. Another benefit is that making music in any form is relaxing. Singing releases stored muscle tension and decreases the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol in your blood stream. And finally, singing improves mental alertness. Improved blood circulation and an oxygenated blood stream allow more oxygen to reach the brain. This improves mental alertness, concentration, and memory. The Alzheimer’s Society has even established a “Singing for the Brain” service to help people with dementia and Alzheimer’s maintain their memories.
With all these benefits one should keep on singing, whether alone in the shower or making music with friends. The smiles of our audiences tell us that they enjoy the music as well!
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