ChorTeach is ACDA’s quarterly publication for choral conductors and teachers at all levels. It is published online, and each issue contains four practical articles. If you are not already a member of ACDA, you can join as an Associate for $45 per year and receive access to ChorTeach and the Choral Journal online.
The most recent issue of ChorTeach contains an article written by Fern Burnett titled “The Benefits of Singing: Resources for Conductors.”
As those in the choral music profession can attest, choir members reap many positive benefits from singing with ensembles. Chorus America reported in a 2009 study that there were 32.5 million adults singing in 270,000 choruses across the United States. Researchers have become increasingly interested in investigating what happens to individuals when they regularly participate in a choir.
Following is a short list of the common benefits
Increased feelings of pleasure, alertness, happiness, contentment, and energy. Decreased feelings of anxiety, stress, depression, and loneliness. Mental benefits include strengthened synapses between brain cells, resulting in a stronger memory.
This particular ChorTeach article offers a list of specific sources that may help foster discussion between the director and the choir. A few of those sources are below.
- “Ode to Joy,” Stacy Horn Essay adapted from Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness While Singing with Others, Stacy Horn, Algonquin Books.
This article describes the physical rush or singer’s high they receive. Chemicals released by the brain during singing are discussed. Also, readers will find studies in which pre-surgery patients who listened to music required less anesthesia and less pain medicine during post-surgery recovery. The article quotes from a 2005 study that determined that the quality of the voice did not determine the individual’s benefits from singing.
- “Singing and Brain Function,” John Daniel Scott, May 2010.
Referring to several studies, this article discusses the neurotransmitters and other chemicals that increase while someone sings. Measuring oxytocin levels (increases in pleasure, love, and bonding) showed that both amateur and professional singers had signifi cantly increased levels after voice lessons.
- “How Many Calories Are Burned From Singing?” Magda Healey, April 2015.
The good news is that singing in a standing position burns a comparable amount of calories as walking, yoga, or light housework. A 2006 study reported that physical changes such as increased lung capacity and abdominal and rib cage expansion occurred even after only a few months of vocal training. Opera singers reaped the benefi ts and maintained stronger chest wall muscles, better pumping hearts, and increased lung capacity until later years.
Read the rest of the article by clicking here and looking in the Fall 2016 issue for Fern Burnett’s article. If you are not already an ACDA member, you can join as an Associate for only $45 per year and receive online access to all ACDA publications! Go here to learn more.