One hour of group singing lowers stress hormone, Cortisol – says Russell Scott.
Like many choral enthusiasts, Russell Scott, producer, vocal coach, and founder of the UK Choir Festival, makes impressive claims about how singing in a choir improves physical and mental health. How true are these claims? Are they backed by science? Actually, yes. They are.
If you ask someone what comes to mind when they think about singing in a choir, is it going to be the numerous health benefits? Probably not.
As a choir director, I have no doubt that choral singing has a transformative effect on health, both mentally and physically.
Singing in a choir will do amazing things for you. It will:
1. Make you feel good with endorphins and better circulation
It is widely known that the body’s “feel-good” hormones (endorphins) are released during exercise, laughing or even eating chocolate.
It is less well-known, however, that the same hormones are released when someone performs as part of a choir.
The deep breaths taken during singing equates to that of aerobic exercise, which increases blood flow and releases endorphins.
2. Enhance your immune system, help you fight cancer
A study found that just one hour of group singing significantly lowers the stress hormone Cortisol, and boosts a person’s immune system, which, it has been suggested, can even help fight cancer.
Research conducted alongside a choir in Frankfurt found that the group produced antibodies in the blood that are known to enhance the immune system and fight off excess bad bacteria.
3. Reduce your stress
The stress-relieving benefits of choir singing have been widely recognized, and have been verified by the lowered Cortisol levels found in the study mentioned above.
Reduced stress, endorphins and the positive emotions felt during group singing contribute to a “high” singers often experience after rehearsals.
4. Increase social fulfilment
Studies have found that after just one group singing class, participants feel closer to each other than when participating in other group classes.
Oxytocin, the hormone associated with love, trust and bonding has been associated with collective singing, which may be related to the close bonds of friendship among choirs and singing groups.
Other social benefits include meeting people with similar passions and combatting loneliness, and, I have seen firsthand how choirs can even help with grieving and healing after a loss.
5. Boost your self-esteem
A further social benefit of singing in a choir is the educational side, as participants broaden their understanding of music.
Learning something new boosts self-esteem and confidence whilst stimulating the mind and memory of older singers.
…and maybe even stop snoring?
Singing is known to tone the throat muscles, with a past study suggesting that this can reduce snoring – excellent news if you are the long-suffering partner of a snorer!
Go for it
Group singing creates a true escape from the real world, giving participants something on which to focus 100% of their mind.
In my work with choirs, I have seen how singing as part of an organised group helped many people with their struggles, including work stress and relationship issues.
I encourage people from all backgrounds to experience the benefits of group singing in a relaxed and informative way by joining a local choir or signing up for a local choir festival.
About Russell Scott
Russell has been involved in the music and performance industry since the young age of nine, by which time he had developed a talent as a cabaret organist and made two LPs, which had totaled sales of over 100,000 copies. He followed his heart and soon become an accomplished singer, Vocal Coach, Producer and Musical & Artistic Director. Russell has a reputation for working with enormous enthusiasm and charisma.
About the UK Choir Festival
The UK Choir Festival first took place in 2016 and aims to support, train and bring choirs together, allowing them to learn, develop and thrive in a truly unique way. Founded by Russell Scott, the festival is designed for choirs of all abilities, age and style, ranging from local community choirs to school or university choirs, barbershop and a cappella choirs. And will be taking place in Manchester (July) and St Albans (October) this year (2017). For further information on Russell and the UK Choir Festival, please visit www.ukchoirfestival.com