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