Here’s why singing in a choir could change your life – and where to stretch your vocal chords in the North East
Sophie Swift shares an insider’s guide on why singing can be a social saviour
As someone who has sung for the majority of their time in education, graduating from university in 2019 came as a bit of a shock to my vocal chords when I realised I wouldn’t be singing twice a week anymore.
From the age of 11, I was a member of different singing groups through school, was part of musical theatre productions and had private singing lessons. Once I gained my A-Levels, I went to university where I sang and was later Vice President of an a cappella choir on campus, (yep, just like Pitch Perfect). I loved it. Singing gave me a chance to learn how to develop my voice and sing more advanced arrangements, the opportunity to meet new people and a safe place where my confidence could grow. After graduating, the harsh reality that my singing days could be over hit me harder than I expected. I made it my mission to continue singing… there was only one problem – where?
You say the word “choir” and you immediately either think of a group of children singing Christmas carols, hymns being sung in a church or a singing group for the retired. But, two years and a wild journey of research later, I’ve discovered that singing really can be and should be for everyone. The benefits on our health can be dramatic and, it turns out, there are actually a bigger variety of choirs and singing groups here in the North East than I first assumed.
Fancy giving it a go yourself? Let me convince you why it’s worth putting yourself out there…
Singing makes you feel GOOD!
Research done by the British Voice Association shows that people who sing regularly report higher levels of emotional stability and wellbeing, even when suffering from mental health problems such as chronic depression and schizophrenia.
Similarly, a 2016 study conducted by members of the Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust and Oxford Brookes University found that people who sang together in a group reported a higher sense of wellbeing and had developed more meaningful connections than those who sang solo.
Singing improves your health
Singing regularly has also been reported to act as a brilliant stress buster. Taking an hour every week out of your busy schedule to do something you love gives your mind some time to unwind and focus on yourself – which is something we could all probably do with getting a bit better at!
There has also been research conducted that suggests that singing can stimulate your immune system, increase your pain threshold and even reduce snoring!
Singing increases your confidence and self-esteem
Singing in front of people boosts your confidence. Whether that’s in rehearsals, singing in front of your fellow choir members, or at a concert in front of an audience. Pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there enough to sing can take some courage – so once you’ve done it once, the pride you’ll feel in yourself is really something. And who knows? Give it a few songs and you might even be competing for that next solo…
Singing allows for greater brain development
Regularly learning new songs stimulates your memory, while also helping it to grow. It’s even been shown that singing can help those suffering from dementia – bringing back to mind long-forgotten memories by reaching parts of the damaged brain in ways that other forms of communication can’t.
For more healthy brains, the benefits of singing are still significant. Performing as part of a choir activates your mind’s reward system, giving you a sense of satisfaction that’s hard to beat.
Singing encourages you to socialise and meet new people
Even if you don’t necessarily talk to everyone in the choir, you often experience a general feeling of connection with the whole group, leading to an increased sense of community and belonging.
Singing is able to provide an inclusive and cost-effective means of meeting new people and making friends. Whether you’re more into classical music, pop or rock, finding the right choir could prove the perfect way to improve your health, wellbeing, and social life. And if you don’t think you can sing before you join, it won’t take long before you start to feel like you can!