Tis the season to get into the festive spirit and raise our voices in song – with the exception of me of course because I could not carry a tune in my garden wagon. They say that group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out at the gym. It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.
When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling – harmony.
As the popularity of group singing grows, science has been hard at work trying to explain why it. The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure. Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing decreases feelings of depression and loneliness. A very recent study even attempts to make the case that “music evolved as a tool of social living,” and that the pleasure that comes from singing together is our evolutionary reward for joining each other cooperatively, instead of hiding alone, every cave-dweller for him or herself.
The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety, lowers stress and contributes to quality of life. Dr. Julene K. Johnson recently began a five year study to examine group singing as an affordable method to improve the health and well-being of older adults. And, the good news from all this research is that you do not even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards. There is hope for me yet.
So, having heard me extol the virtues of singing, here are a couple of great opportunities to test the theories during the next couple of weeks.
- CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) 39 and Amica Quinte Gardens are proud to present their First Annual Intergenerational program featuring Andy Forgie as their song leader! Hear voices from the youngest, just learning the songs, to those who have been singing the same songs for decades and all of those in between. Join them on December 9, 2015 from 7:00 – 8:30 pm at Amica Quinte Gardens, 30 College Street West, Belleville. There is no cost to join in for the festivities.
- Christmas Sing-along! Are you living with memory loss? Does music raise your spirits? Back by popular demand, Christine Chomyn has volunteered to start a sing-a-long group for persons with memory loss and their ‘buddy’. She is keen to start with Christmas and holiday favourites, so please call the office at 613-962-0892 and ask for Jannette. CrossRoads to Care at the Bayview Mall, Wednesday December 2nd, 9th and 16th 11 am – 12 pm. On the 16th they will actually be entertaining in the north end of the mall, so if nothing else, join us then and let us touch your heart.