Many people think that if they aren’t considered a “good” singer, then they should just keep their voices silent. I believe this couldn’t be further from the truth! Our voice is the natural instrument that majority of us have and can use on a daily basis to improve our health and well being. In fact, it has been shown in research that the so-called “un-trained” singer may benefit more than those with training (Bailey and Davidson, 2005). So even if you don’t believe you are cut out for American Idol or the Voice, don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of singing!
Top 8 Benefits of Singing… Let the Countdown Begin
8. Singing can help you relax. Deep breathing is one of the components to singing that differs from talking. When we talk we use shallow breaths whereas when we sing we breathe deeper and hold onto the air longer so to make it to the end of the sung phrases. While we are are engaged in this deep breathing during singing, we take in much more oxygen than when speaking which in turn helps us become more relaxed.
7. Singing can improve your mood. When we sing our brain releases endorphins which in turn can alleviate depression (Kenny & Faunce, 2004; Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Grebe, Bastian, and Hodapp, 2004; Unwin, Kenny & Davis, 2002), anxiety (Lord, Cave, Hume, Elude, Evans, Kelly, Pokey & Hopkinson, 2010; Gale, Enright, Reagon, Lewis & van Deursen, 2012) and stress (Chanda & Levitan, 2013). Doesn’t it seem more logical to start with music to improve your mood rather than going to the medicine cabinet for those pharmaceuticals? I guarantee you will improve your mood safer and more naturally with your favorite playlist of songs to sing along to than any pill that you can buy. And putting your money into your playlists rather than drugs is a much better long term investment as well 😉
6. Singing distracts the mind. When you are singing a song your mind is focused on just that…singing a song. You aren’t thinking about the chores to do or when the bills are due, you are trying to remember the words and sing the lyrics flawlessly without missing a beat. Perhaps you take a sidetrack to laugh at yourself for not knowing some of the words, but you still aren’t thinking about those bills now are you?
5. Singing can reduce pain perception (Kenny & Faunce, 2004). This benefit takes a little from all of the above mentioned points (8, 7 and 6). When dealing with pain perception singing is beneficial in that it helps oxygenate which relaxes us and it serves as a distraction. As mentioned last week, music effects levels of serotonin, dopamine and epinephrine which all play a role in pain perception (Carlson, 1992). The better mood you are in, the less anxiety you have and the less you perceive pain.
4. Singing promotes learning. Also mentioned in my post from last week, music affects our memories and is stored more easily than spoken language. One of my favorite tricks is when I hear a voicemail and don’t have a pen. They leave me a phone number but I can’t write it down! So what do I do? I sing the phone number in 2 parts. First the 3 digit sequence, then the 4 number sequence. By singing the numbers over and over until I can pull up the keypad on my phone (or get to a pen) I remember the number 9/10 times. Bet you didn’t know singing could be so useful!
3. Singing is non-invasive. Yes, music therapists prescribe singing as a treatment for patients. The best part about this prescription is that it doesn’t cost you a dime and has very limited side effects. Side effects may include a sore throat from singing too much or too loud and proud, or perhaps a shout out from the neighbors to keep it down. Other than that you are most likely in the clear! Doesn’t that sound a lot better than the long list of side effects associated with most pharmaceuticals?
2. Singing is fun. Singing along to your favorite songs may already be something you enjoy doing. Perhaps you sing with a group of people in a choir. Just joining together with others and sharing in a musical experience such as a concert can be fun in itself, but adding singing into the mixture will make it even more enjoyable! I always think of road trips and singing along to the various playlists we create for the ride. It’s always a good time and usually filled with memorable moments! Could you imagine a silent and music-less road trip? I don’t even want to attempt to!
1. You can sing anywhere! Unlike a guitar or tuba, you can easily carry your voice with you everywhere you go. It doesn’t take up any additional space at all meaning you don’t have to check it in on a plane 😉
If you are the shy type and aren’t so sure about singing just “anywhere”… here are some great places to belt it out worry free!
1. In the car
2. In the shower
3. While cleaning the house (add dancing for an even greater effect!)
4. Mowing the yard
So don’t be afraid to start singing out loud today! Singing is something you already know how to do, can benefit your health and well-being in numerous ways and like I always stress when it comes to musical intervention… it’s fun and a safer alternative to pharmaceuticals 🙂
For a GREAT resource on the effects of singing in the research literature check out this comprehensive article by Dr. Mary Gick.
Bailey, B. & Davidson, J. (2005). The effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class singers. Psychology of Music, 33 (3), 269-303.
Carlson, N. R. (1992). Foundations of Physiological Psychology. Boston: Ally & Bacon.
Chanda, M., & Levitan, D. (2013). The neurochemistry of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 17(4), 179-193.
Gale, N., Enright, S., Reagon, C., Lewis I., & van Deursen R. (2012). A pilot investigation of quality of life and lung function following choral singing in cancer survivors and their carers. Ecancermedicalscience, 6:261.
Kenny, D. T., & Faunce, G. (2004). The impact of group singing on mood, coping and perceived pain in chronic pain patients attending a multidisciplinary pain clinic. Journal of Music Therapy, 41, 241-258.
Kreutz, G., Bongard, S., Rohrmann, S., Grebe, D., Bastian, H.G. and Hodapp, V. (2004) Effects of choir singing or listening on secretory immunoglobulin A, cortisol and emotional state, Journal of Behavioral Medicine , 27 (6), pp. 623-635.
Lord, V., Cave, P., Hume, V., Flude, E., Evans, A., Kelly, J., Polkey, M., & Hopkinson, N. (2010). Singing teaching as a therapy for chronic respiratory disease: a randomised controlled trial and qualitative evaluation. BMC Pulm Med, 10:41.
Unwin, M.M., Kenny, D.T., & Davis, P.J. (2002). The effects of group singing on mood. Psychology of Music, 30, 175-185.