A couple of news stories really caught our eye here at Utah Voices over the summer. Maybe it’s because we like to watch researchers and scientists try to understand things that we already know are true – like the fact that singing makes us happy.
An article from Time enumerated the many research-backed theories why singing makes the singers feel so good. In particular, group singing has been found to bestow positive effects for individuals’ sense of wellbeing and their overall outlook on life. It reduces stress, loneliness and depression. Depending on who you ask, these effects come from the release endorphins, or oxytocin, or as a result of slower than normal breathing that singing requires. Add to that the camaraderie of weekly rehearsals and working together with friends toward a common goal. And here’s the best part – you don’t even have to be a good singer! Just belt it out and you get the same benefits as Aretha (well, maybe not the money and fame).
Another story from NPR reported a new study showing that singers’ heart rates synchronize when singing together, as in a choir. The researchers attached pulse monitors to singers’ ears to monitor heart rates, and found that almost immediately after the choir started singing, the heart rates fall into a rhythm with the music and fellow singers.
Of course, you’ll never hear anyone say that they love to sing because it slows their heart rate. We sing because it makes us feel fulfilled or allows us to express something inside of us that cannot be expressed any other way, or just makes us feel good. The reasons why we sing are probably as numerous as the singers themselves, so we checked in with some of our singers and asked, “Why do you sing?”
“I have a space inside of me that can only be filled by singing. When I am not singing the contents of this space slowly leak away and I have to sing again to fill it up. I can never stop singing.” – Valerie Burton, Alto
“I sing because it takes my mind off my chronic pain. I sing because its one of the best ways to feel the Spirit of The Lord. I sing because it makes me happy!” – Tami Griffith, Alto
“Music is my renewable source of energy. When I sing every cell in my body operates to the same beat. Any imbalance or dysfunction is gone. Singing is the way I fine-tune my senses – I feel grounded, secure and confident. I am energized and at peace with myself. It is a liberating feeling.” –Megan Clark, Soprano
“There have been a few periods of time when I haven’t had any real outlet for music – not playing or singing in church or at home – and I have felt as if something had been amputated. It caused me pain. So I look for opportunities that will provide an outlet for musical expression, preferably in a challenging way. The challenge of learning and performing difficult music is rewarding. Meeting new people and making new friends brings happiness. But the main reason I sing is to feel whole.” –Nancy Brown, Soprano
“I sing because I love to be a part of something beautiful!” –Shelley Petersen, Alto
Now it’s your turn – why do you sing? Tell us in the comments!