THE BENEFITS OF SINGING
commissioned by EADCA.
Choral singing strikes a healthy note Singing together benefits both mind and body, writes local member Alison Sprigg
Singing has long been recognised as an activity which promotes a sense of well-being. Whether it’s starting the day with a favourite tune in the shower, or relieving stress with a rousing chorus in the car, most people find pleasure in singing at some time, often without even thinking about it.
But singing doesn’t need to be solitary. Choral singing has become hugely popular during the last few years, and not only because of the popularity of Gareth Malone, dubbed ‘the nation’s favourite choirmaster’. His various TV shows, and the choirs and personalities featured, have undoubtedly helped by publicising the joys – and benefits – of choral singing.
In fact, more than 2 million people in the UK are now involved in more than 40,000 choirs, with a wide diversity of styles covering anything from classical and gospel to folk and pop. The recent rise in the popularity of choral singing is due largely to awareness of the feel-good factor which comes from singing as part of a group. This in itself has been shown to have significant physical and mental benefits.
The most obvious benefit of choral singing is that being an aerobic activity, it improves circulation by drawing more oxygen into the blood stream: a particularly element in singing, where controlled and deep breathing is essential to good technique. Alongside the physical benefit sot increased blood flow, singing releases hormones which are specifically responsible for that feel-good factor. Good singing technique also improves posture, to enable correct function of the lungs – am effective antidote to any sedentary lifestyle!
So choral singing can become a significant part of a general physical fitness programme. In addition, its sociable and mutually supportive nature is a powerful and relaxing experience in itself, with all the benefits for mind and body which that involves.
All this, of course, merely serves to confirm what any choral singer knows instinctively: singing together is good for you! In addition to the fun and satisfaction of an activity shared with like-minded people, joining a choir provides the chance to develop skills, not only in broadening musical knowledge, but also in concentration, memory and mental agility. Working towards a performance brings a focus on achievable goals, while the performance itself can boost individual confidence and encourage social bonding. This naturally results in friendships; one recent study found that choir members tend to feel closer to each other than people taking part in other group activities, while many choral groups organise members’ social activities such as quiz evenings and suppers.
Choirs are also ideally placed to support their local communities, by singing in aid of charities and taking their music-making into residential care homes and hospices. The joy which this brings to their listeners – and to themselves – is immeasurable.
That’s certainly the case here in Eastbourne and the surrounding area, where local choirs pride themselves on their friendliness, their social activities, and their community links. There is a range of choirs across our district, with many of them listed on the website of the Eastbourne and District Choirs Association, at www.eadca.uk. So please do visit us; a warm welcome awaits you at your local choir!