What Does Singing Benefit Us?

Singing has been part of my life for over 10 years. From fourth grade, when I first joined the school choir, I did not realize that it would be my interest lasting for years. Singing brings me happiness, satisfaction, but gets me into fret as well. When I feel depressed, recording myself singing always heals me. On the other hand, when I fail to sing a song well, it makes me disappointed. Singing has been integrated into my way of life because I sing every day wherever I am. However, many mysteries about singing are still unknown to me and probably to a lot of singers. What does singing benefit us except being an interest?


The picture was taken after the our school choir won the state and it is the Soprano section that I was part of.

One of the benefits that singing brings to us is brain development. In class, we have learned that different cortex is responsible for certain functions. Singing actually activates the whole brain, but certain parts of it are more engaged when learning particular aspects of a song. “For example, when the singer concentrates on learning the words of a song, the temporal region in the left side of the brain, is more engaged, but when learning the melody, the right side is more engaged.” (Valerie L. 2010). This leads to the conclusion that singing specifically intrigues our language development, including comprehension and speech because the brain behaves similarly when one is either reading out loud or singing. A study done by the German researchers Jentschke and Koelsch (2009) found that highly trained boy singers had an advantage in their language perception skills concerning grammar and comprehension (Valerie L. 2010). Although hypotheses are explaining the study result, it is hard to know the exact cause behind it. However, it gives teachers insights on how to educate students either during speaking or singing. For instance, “addressing the melody on a neutral syllable first may be more helpful when learning a song. When the melody is learned, then adding simple repeated word phrases in the song would be a good second step” (Valerie L. 2010). The relationship between singing and language development on the brain could be applied further to make the learning process easier.

Besides improving on brain development, singing is also highly correlated to well-being. Well-being can be defined as either a hedonistic perspective (experience of happiness and life satisfaction) which is proved on myself already and a eudaimonic perspective (positive psychological functioning, good relationships, and self-realization)(Perkins & Williamson, 2013; Glick, 2011) which requires scientific studies to further prove it. In fact, many kinds of research have been conducted to examine the relationship between singing and stress response. Grape, Wikstrom, Elkman, Hasson, and Theorell (2010) explored the effects of choral singing on patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), a common disorder of the large intestine. They found that oxytocin, a hormone with links to stress, increases after a singing lesson, involving the exercise of breathing and pitch, which indicates that patients are more relaxed after the singing session (Mary L. Gick, 2011). Moreover, singing promotes healthy respiratory functioning. Wade (2002) examined the possible respiratory benefits for children with asthma comparing active (singing) and passive (group listening) exposure to music. The data revealed that lung functioning increased or was maintained after group singing (Katryn Hurst, 2014). Thus, the positive influence on the eudaimonic perspective is obvious as well as the hedonistic perspective.

Singing is not only a way to entertain people and singers themselves, but also beneficial in biological and psychological perspectives. I believe singing will become a forever interest for me and more researches regarding the benefits of singing will be discovered, so that more people would continue and love singing.

References:

Trollinger, Valerie L. 2010. The Brain in Singing and Language General Music Today. Vol. 23(2): 20-23.

Mary L. Gick. 2011. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind &” Brain. Singing, health and well-being: A health psychologist’s review. Vol. 21(1&2).

Katryn Hurst. 2014. Canadian Music Educator: Singing Is Good for You: An Examination of the Relationship between Singing, Health and Well-Being. Vol. 55(4): 18-22.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Rachael Berkoff says:

    I found your blog post to be super interesting and informative because I have been singing my whole life as well! I am a soprano too:). The biological evidence that you used to support how singing reduces stress and increases oxytocin makes perfect sense because after I finish rehearsal or a performance, I feel much happier and relaxed. I also found it fascinating how certain sides of the brain become more activated when we learn songs.

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