27 June 2023
Singing groups, clubs and choirs have been present in schools for many years. Recently though, workplaces, care homes and hospitals have started to organise group singing sessions, too. What have teachers known about singing that the rest of the world is only just realising now? Singing is very beneficial to a person’s health, for a wide range of reasons.
Singing - either in a group or on your own - releases feel-good chemicals into your brain, improves breathing, helps posture, stimulates creativity, engages, entertains, promotes neural development, improves memory, helps bring people together, improves self-confidence… The list could go on. There’s a lot of research out there to suggest that singing is very good for your child’s health.
There are many physical benefits that come from singing. Deep breathing and a strong, standing posture result in improved air intake, which helps to build strong lungs. Many singing teachers will teach healthy breathing techniques, which then ingrain themselves as habits. Even without formal instruction, regular singing builds this practice naturally. Many studies have been carried out that show how breathing well carries a lot of long-term health benefits, including improved circulation and good immune health. Singing also stretches and engages muscles in the core, and helps to release muscle tension, which helps to reduce anxiety.
It’s not all physical wellness. Studies have shown that when a person takes part in singing, a range of chemicals are released in the brain, all with positive effects. These chemicals include oxytocin, which helps relieve anxiety; dopamine, which brings pleasure; and serotonin, which improves sleep, bone health and digestion (amongst other things). The act of singing allows a natural chance for mindfulness. When a child sings, they are in the ‘here and now’, meaning that, at least for a short time, any other worries and anxieties they may have are forgotten about.
Singing is healthy from a social point of view, too. Group singing can “fast track” social bonding. It’s a practice that goes back thousands of years in human history, for good reason. Children find they make connections not only by being with a group working towards a common goal but also having the chance to look around, see faces, make eye contact, and really be in tune with those around them.
Finally, there’s cognition. Singing, and the skills associated with it, are very good for brain development (and, as children get older, brain health). Remembering lyrics, thinking about pitch and tone, and keeping time are just some of the ways in which singing helps to build brain power. The effect of singing on the brain is identical to when a person works on a puzzle or applies themselves to a new skill. MRI scans show that when a person sings their entire brain becomes active, which is quite rare.
The tremendous benefits to health are why so many places now promote singing, both as a therapy and as a hobby. Children are at the perfect age to take it up, as they have the energy and self-confidence to really make the most of it. If they do, they’ll have a healthy hobby for life.