Singing Can Truly Make You A Better Person, Says Science
The real feelings we receive from singing in a group are a form of evolutionary reward for coming together unitedly.The research shows that creating music together has evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes have sung and danced together to build loyalty, share vital information and avert enemies.
What became understood only recently is that group singing triggers the release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and also synchronizes our heartbeats.Group singing incentivised community over an “each cave dweller for themselves” approach. Those who sang together were firmly bonded and survived.As Stacy Horn writes in her book Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others:
An infusion of the perfect tranquiliser – the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit.
For a decade, scientists were trying to explain why singing has such a calming yet energizing effect on people. Numerous studies show that singing releases endorphins and oxytocin, which are linked to feelings of trust and bonding and can relieve anxiety and stress.
Singing helps people who suffer from depression and reduces emotions of loneliness, helping people feel relaxed, happy and connected. Additionally, the benefits of singing frequently are cumulative. Those who sing have eliminated levels of cortisol, which indicates lower stress.
Sophia Efthimiou, UK singer, singing teacher and choir leader, describes singing as a process of consciously regulating our breath and larynx to create and maintain certain pitches. We blend that with rhythm and lyrics to create songs.
Each member in a group setting feels the musical vibrations moving throughout their body simultaneously. Our heartbeats become synchronized. As Sophia explains:
We literally form one unified heartbeat.
One of the most amazing things about singing is that you can get the wellbeing benefits even if you’re not good.
One study found that group singing can produce fulfilling and healing sensations even when the sound produced by the singers is of mediocre quality.
Singer and founder of Creativity Australia, Tania de Jong, has efficiently harnessed this ability of group singing to lift each member of the group up, no matter their singing level.
The organization’s project With One Voice puts various people together frequently to sing. The group euphoria is created allowing people’s natural creativity to build new levels of community support, connection, and opportunities. According to Tania:
One of the great things about singing is that it connects you to the right side of your brain. This is the side responsible for intuition, imagination, and all our creative functions. It connects us to a world of possibilities. In modern life, we are constantly bombarded with so much information that we process and analyze. We tend to get stuck in the left, processing side of our brain. So it becomes fundamentally important to nurture the attributes of human beings that set us apart from machines. The best way to do that is singing.
These benefits are free and accessible to everyone. We all have a voice, good or bad. All of us can sing, even if we don’t think so.
There’s been a time when all people used to sing. They sang at church, around campfires, at school. Nowadays, not so many of us sing anymore. Maybe at some stage, somebody told us to be quiet or criticized our imperfect singing voice. As Sophia Efthimiou suggests, singing is very personal, it’s an expression of sound coming from within us, so we can’t help but take others’ criticism very personally.
Nevertheless, people who claim they can’t sing because they’re tone deaf are probably very unfamiliar with discovering and using their singing voice.
Remember that tone deafness is comparatively rare, and it means that someone is unable to recognize a song. If you can recognize a song you aren’t tone deaf, you are simply unpractised. According to Sophia:
When our voice makes the wrong note, we can feel terrible as though it is a reflection of our self-worth. But – if you can talk, you can sing.
US opera singer Katie Kat hopes she’ll encourage everyone to sing far more often no matter their perceived skill.
Singing raises self-awareness, boosts self-confidence and increases our ability to communicate with others. It reduces stress, comforts us and helps us to build our identity and influence the world around us.
When we sing, musical vibration moves through us, altering our physical and emotional state. Singing is as old as are the hills. It’s innate, ancient and within everyone. It truly is one of the most uplifting therapeutic things one can do.