Well, it sure has been awhile since my last blog post! Didn’t the summer go by quickly?! I find it hard to believe we are approaching October already! My brain is still back in August- anyone with me?! Although a major part of why this has taken me so long to write is because of just how busy I’ve been! I can’t believe how quickly my studio and classes have filled and I am so grateful to everyone who has registered, registered their child, shared a post or passed on my business to a friend. Really, truly, from the bottom of my heart- thank you! I’ve been loving every moment of this new adventure so far. It has already been filled with triumphs, heartwarming moments, challenges (the good kind!) and plenty of laughs and surprises!
I had visions of what my life would look like once my studio took off full time and while much of it has met or exceeded my expectations, what I did not predict at all was how many adults want to pursue recreational singing! I have a handful of private adult students enrolled in weekly lessons and if that weren’t a lovely enough surprise, I had a group of energetic, talented and sweet ladies request an adult version of the Show Choir I run! That weekly session is quickly becoming one of the highlights of my week. We have so many laughs together and the group is quickly becoming great friends. I think we’re going to have an awesome year together. And, on a personal level, it’s so great to have a group that pushes me creatively and gives me an outlet to sing with friends too!
The incredible excitement and passion for learning about singing and music in that group and among my adult private students got me thinking about what a wonderful thing it is. I honestly didn’t expect so many adults, in various stages of their lives to be so keen on investing their time and money into it, and I am so inspired by it! I always tell my younger students that singing is for life, you’re never too old to learn new things and how fulfilling music is in your life. I’m so pleased to have met so many who believe the same thing! And, while this may not be in the forefront of my singers’ minds, there are plenty of benefits of being a part of a musical community! If this is something you’ve been considering, read on!
Reason to Sing Past the Age of 18 #1: Health Benefits
I’ve alluded to it in past blog posts before, what good singing does for your health! We spend so much time talking about body alignment that works for singing that it ultimately helps with posture. So much of day to day life is spent at a computer for many that a slouched posture has in many ways become the norm. By becoming more aware of your body, as we do in lessons and group activities, the awareness of how you sit or stand develops, and thus overall posture improves! Sometimes we adopt weird habits or tension that we don’t even realize, and singing with guidance can help combat this. In fact, singing can even help if you struggle with tension or other problems related to your speaking voice. For some, lessons or choir aren’t even about the singing, it’s about learning how to use our instrument better, regardless of how we use it day to day.
Singing also helps with breathing! I swear, some lessons I spend a third of it just talking about the breath- how to maximize it, how to inhale it, use it, control it...it’s the most important part of singing! Discovering how deep the breath goes and doing breath control exercises helps you regulate your breathing which in turn, combats anxiety and stress. The very same exercises we do together in singing lessons or classes can be applied to calm you down in those moments when you need it most. Additionally, work on your breathing can also lead to a better night’s sleep if you suffer from sleep apnea or snoring because it helps to strengthen the muscles in your throat and pharynx. See this article by the Daily Mail Online to know more.
Singing also results in more oxygen in our blood and better blood circulation. This helps to lift our mood and for the elderly or injured, simulate the same lung workout we have during aerobic exercise, increasing your stamina too!
And, if that weren’t enough, did you know that singing can help boost your immune system too? Researchers from the University of Frankfurt did a study before and after an hour long choir rehearsal. The results demonstrated not only a decreased level of cortisol (the stress-causing hormone), but also an increase in Immunoglobulin A, an antibody found in our immune system. The same results weren’t found simply from listening to music- it was an hour exploring the greatness of Mozart’s Requiem that did it! Maybe that’s why I’ve (so far) been able to avoid catching this bug that’s plagued more than half of my students these past few weeks!
Reason to Sing Past the Age of 18 #2: Brain Power!
It’s no secret that as you get older, the brain loses its sharpness. Some people experience this more than others, but it’s also been scientifically proven that parts of brain function can improve through regular singing and music study, including but not limited to alertness, concentration and memory recall. It even goes so far as to help patients of aphasia, Parkinsons, dementia and Alzheimers. I certainly remember witnessing this in my grandfather in his final years when he was suffering from dementia. Nothing made him happier than recalling happy times when I played his favourite fiddle tunes. I still don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone smile as big as he did when I played for him.
There was a group of teenagers in Victoria BC who joined in a choir with dementia and Alzheimer’s patients. The studies after fourteen weeks of weekly rehearsal showed that even in patients who were not able to care for themselves day to day or make new memories, they were able to learn new music. And of course, many also experienced a decrease in depression, anxiety and really came to enjoy going - the caregivers too! There isn’t any scientific evidence that singing helps improve diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia, but it has been known to delay the onset of them. While I know my students aren’t anywhere near this stage of life, isn’t it nice to know you’re doing good for yourself beyond just the fun you’re having?
Reason to Sing Over the Age of 18 #3: Confidence and Community
There can be many occasions in life when a person is asked to speak in front of an audience, a board, clients or colleagues. For some this can be downright traumatizing! While performing solos in front of an audience can, for some, cause this same trauma, with time eventually this experience can be fun! Learning new music or a new technique is hard. It makes you vulnerable and forces you to make mistakes. Many people get so intimidated by this that they don’t try, but with patience, practice, repetition and a teacher who helps you find your strengths, singing can be a vehicle to improving your overall confidence and self-esteem. I have had young students tell me what a difference singing and performing have made for them in the way they carry themselves, think about themselves and interact with others. And that’s in the tricky teenage years! Imagine what it can do for an adult, with more maturity and life experience! Singing is really an incredible gift, and well worth the discomfort of vulnerability as you get started. The poise and comfort standing on stage developed through singing and performing will do nothing but help you during that next presentation, pitch or speech at work!
What’s more, is that studies have proven that those who singing in a group experience this confidence boost even more! The process of learning a song, technique and ensemble work with others encourages the celebration of consistent improvements, and it also makes performing more fun when you get to share it with others. Remember those Alzheimer’s patients who sang in a choir? Yup, you guessed it- the studies showed that their confidence improved too!
The act of singing with others is also hugely beneficial in combating loneliness and isolation. Being part of a group with a common goal, interest and often with people with similar personalities helps you to feel a part of something greater than yourself, which in turn adds value to your contribution and consequently your self-esteem. Plus, it’s a great way to have positive social interactions with others on a regular basis. It’s easy to get stuck in a routine of eat, sleep, work, repeat, where loneliness and depression can easily seep in. Being a part of a singing group can do wonders to not only add variety to your weekly routine, but also make friends and have a ton of fun! I’ve seen it happening already in my Show Choir- women who otherwise wouldn’t have crossed paths are becoming great friends, or deepening previously existing relationships. Personally, some of my very best friends in my life have developed through choral singing, and these are relationships I will always treasure. Trust me when I say it’s absolutely worth it.
Furthermore, when people say singing makes you happy, it’s been scientifically proven. When we sing, our body releases endorphins that give us that same joyful, high feeling as aerobic exercise. For those karaoke lovers out there- you know what I’m saying?! It doesn’t matter where you sing- it could even be in the car or shower- it’s just the act of singing that improves the way you feel! It also releases oxytocin, a hormone that plays a role in our social bonding, connecting us with the people around us during a particular activity. Studies have also shown the possibility for our heart rates to sync up when singing in an ensemble, as a result of coordinated breathing. This explains why singing with others is so addicting and socially fulfilling!
Everybody sings. We sing the national anthem, “Happy Birthday,” many of us sing in church, even if it’s just on Christmas and Easter, and I know an awful lot of people who love to bust out some tunes around a summer campfire or with a karaoke track! The thing is, there are some people who enjoy this far more than others. For many, though it isn’t a lack of enjoyment because they hate singing. In all likelihood they’ve probably never made much of an effort to sing or were given some negative comments from a family member, friend or teacher once upon a time that cause them to back away from singing loud and proud. They feel intimidated, judged and self-conscious about something they’ve never truly tried. If you can talk, you can sing. Yes, it comes more easily to some than others, but with some hard work and guidance from a trained professional, you too can sing!
And of course, all of these benefits apply to younger singers as well, but that’s a post for another day! I just find it so exhilarating to know that something that brings joy to so many does such wonders for our body, brain and mental health! So, who wants to join me?
Until then, keep on finding your voice and let it sing!
Send me an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in lessons!
I’d love any questions or feedback you have for me! Feel free to post below!