As a singer and voice teacher, I am continually surprised by the number of people who will come up to me after a church service and say, “I am so glad you were singing; I could actually hear the melody and sing along…” This is frequently followed a statement, offered sheepishly, “I wish I could really sing.”
If you have, or anyone you know has, ever been told, “you shouldn’t be singing” or “stop that racket!” or “you can’t carry a tune in a bucket”, I am here to say, it ain’t so! And I heartily encourage you and everyone to make a joyful noise!
The human voice is an essential built-in coping and self-healing mechanism, not just a tool for artistic expression. I have rarely encountered a small child who doesn’t sing while playing alone. When I was a child, I made up songs that I sang to my cat at bedtime. My teenagers still sing songs at night and in the shower and while doing chores and homework, or when they have been upset.
More and more clinical studies are outlining the measurable health benefits of singing. The release of endorphins and oxytocin during the act of singing has been found to: Alleviate anxiety and stress; lessen depression and loneliness; enhance a sense of wellbeing and belonging; contribute to feelings of trust, bonding and community. At least seven therapeutic outcomes from group singing experiences have been documented and studied: Communication, cognition, cooperative engagement, confidence, relationship building, personal empowerment, and physical exercise culminating in stress reduction.
The long and the short of it is this, to paraphrase the title of the well-known hymn, “How can you keep from singing?”
All of this is just a way for me to say you don’t have to wait: Come on out and join us for our next Spirituals Sing-along!
When is that, you ask? And where? Why, it is coming up this very weekend! Halloween Saturday, to be exact! You can find all the details at this link to our event ticket page.
Mary Had a Baby: Advent and African American Spirituals
11:00 am St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church, 525 29th St, Oakland
We look forward to singing with you!
member of the alto section since 1994
The following articles were consulted in the writing of this entry:
Brian Eno Lists the Benefits of Singing: A Long Life, Increased Intelligence, and a Sound Civilization, Colin Marshall for Open Culture, February 27, 2015
Singing Changes Your Brain, Stacy Horn for Time Magazine August 16, 2013
Singing on Prescription? for Medical News Today, January 18, 2010