Want to de-stress, strengthen your lungs and improve musically? Join a choir

With the success of television shows like Glee, it’s not surprising that students young and old are starting to appreciate how much fun singing can be. But did you know how beneficial it can be, both physiologically and psychologically? A few studies have shown that the benefits of singing, while great in a one-on-one environment, can be multiplied when in the right group or choir setting.

20121121-120917.jpgSo, prospective and current vocalists, have you through about joining a choir or singing group? Here’s a few reasons why you should consider it:

Exercise major muscle groups in the upper body

Singing exercises all the major muscle groups in the upper body; your abdominals, diaphragm, shoulders and back all get a workout each time you belt out a tune. Singing is an aerobic activity that improves the efficiency of your cardiovascular system and encourages you to take more oxygen into your body, leading to increased alertness.

Additionally, with the help of stronger back and shoulder muscles, singing helps improve posture, especially with performing groups. In a choir, it is very vital to sit and, more often than not, stand properly and gracefully.

Develop healthier lungs

Any vocal student or teacher will tell you a fundamental key to proper singing technique and endurance is correct breathing. In a choir or group setting, singers often will learn to negotiate very long passages in one controlled breath, which is very, very good for the lungs. Inhaling deeper fills every inch of our lungs’ capacity and enhances the way we use them, making them more efficient and stronger over time.

It’s been observed that singers breathe remarkably slower than the non-singers. Research suggests breathing slowly, whether regularly or by practice for a few minutes a day, is enough to help some people nudge down bad blood pressure. Meditation, yoga and similar relaxation techniques that incorporate slow, deep breathing have long been thought to aid blood pressure, by relaxing and dilating blood vessels temporarily.

Build confidence and musicality

Students who sing together will increase their self-confidence and also build and understanding of teamwork as the unit works together towards a common goal. In other words, it gets the group physically and mentally active in a new way, and gives them the chance to learn and grow from the other singers in their group.

No to mention the fact that it lets students be creative! Singing groups provide a great artistic outlet for students to express themselves and gain personal satisfaction, improving their overall sense of musicality and appreciation.

Become a better singer

As rehearsals pass and time goes by, choir members will notice development in their singing proficiency, even if minute or gradual. Individuals who’ve had no prior vocal training, those that would see themselves stumble over the harder pieces at first, will slowly increase their repertoire and musical stamina. And, in a group setting, it’s possible this progress will be even faster thanks to encouragement from not only a choir director, but from your fellow singing peers.

Even seasoned vocalists who’ve had, or continue to have, vocal training will see their development increase as their choir experience expands their repertoire and adds to their weekly practice routine.

Eventually, the team of singers (both novice and advanced), will have been exposed to varying speeds of songs, reading new music and memorizing lyrics, which builds up stamina. As a choir matures they will develop a kind of group ‘cohesiveness’, ultimately bringing them more commanding voices and polished techniques as they go.

Get rid of stress

If you’re one that regularly spends their week in front of a computer monitor, scanning heaps of prescribed school reading, or sits through hours of traffic on the way to school or work, a change of scenery and pace is always a good thing. While stress adds up in our daily lives thanks to work or family struggles, being part of a choir or singing group will allow you ‘de-stress’ on a consistent, proactive basis. Think of singing as a way to let off steam in a healthy and positive way. Furthermore, music has a way of igniting our emotions; singing, in turn, is one of the few activities that allow you emotionally peak and delve into an elevated mental sphere, to find release and resist burnout.

Choirs are often seen as the perfect complement to any singer’s regular practice routine. Just like playing in a band would benefit a guitarist or drummer, performing in a choir or singing group will help all singers improve, whether it’s a weekly practice or monthly get together. Ultimately, choir rehearsals won’t even feel like practice – just another opportunity to sing your heart out.

And, as Ella Fitzgerald once said, “The only thing better than singing is more singing.”



5 Reasons You Should be Learning Music

Plato is famously quoted as saying “music is a more potent instrument for education than any other- and children should be taught music before all else.”  Why? Here are some reasons to consider:

1. It Does Makes You Smarter

Countless studies, research papers and projects have been performed to give weight to the hypothesis that music education increases intelligence; from sharpening the senses, enhanced emotional intellect, the ability to focus, and capacity for learning new languages. There are even studies that claim that continuous musical studies into adulthood can help prevent diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  It’s no wonder there are books like this on the market.

2. It Teaches Discipline

Music, like any other academic subject, is something that takes time to learn and master. It requires students to improve time management skills, learn to organize, and practice properly and effectively. Learning this kind of discipline can no doubt improve studies in other areas as well.

3. It Relieves Stress

Strumming a chord, singing a note, banging a drum; it all alleviates stress in one way or another.  Playing (or singing) music has been shown to lower blood pressure, decrease heart rate and, quite simply, calm the mind. The whole concept and field of “music therapy” is based on these calming, relaxing benefits.

4. It Pushes You to Set Goals

As a music teacher, it’s important to have my students always have a clear goal in mind. That goal doesn’t necessarily have to be exceedingly ambitious –sometimes just learning that song off the radio is good enough. No matter, students who can visualize a goal will be more motivated and encouraged to get through tricky spots or plateaus, or do things they were always afraid to do (i.e. RCM exams or recitals). The sense of achievement afterwards is priceless.

5. It’s fun!

Of course, the most important reason to learn a music instrument is the enjoyment factor. Playing music is definitely a fun way to learn a new subject and open up to a whole new language of sound and symbolism, just like it can be when learning how to dance, paint or draw. It evokes creativity and allows students of all ages and level a way to express themselves.