This year is my 10-year singing anniversary! YAY!! This wonderful feat got me thinking of what started me singing in the first place…..
I was living and working as a business consultant in Shanghai at the time. A really great and cool city, so vibrant and full of hard-working people making the most of their lives. After work, I used to go the gym a few times a week, cook some dinner and then get back to work. Weekends meant hanging out with friends and do some more work to prepare for work the following week. So all in all: work!
A job coach pointed out to me, that to be able to better cope with stress, I needed to find something that would bring me joy. She also advised me to get back to something I really enjoyed as a teenager. In my case I loved singing and listening to music, but was way too shy to sing out in public. So I let it rest and simmer in my head for a few years until I was so stressed, I needed to do something about it. I read an advertisement about a music school in Shanghai and finally gathered the courage to book my first ever singing lesson!
One lesson led to another and another and another… I practiced almost every day, not always long, but gradually my voice and my confidence grew. As I am not the naturally most gifted singer in the world, it was hard work but also relaxing and fun. Practicing paid off, I started to sing in bands and after a few years of studying music and singing pedagogy, I even made a career out of singing!
I found am hardly the only one for whom singing is such a joy. In fact, research has shown that singing improves your health and well-being. There are many articles available on the internet about singing and health. These articles point out that all kinds of singing, be it belting out in the car, karaoke or singing in a choir, are beneficial to you.
Singing improves breathing, posture and blood-flow. When you sing, your body releases hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin while reducing levels of the stress hormone cortisol. According to Julia Layton in her article “Does Singing Make You Happy?, ‘Singing can have some of the same effects as exercise, like the release of endorphins, which give the singer an overall “lifted” feeling and are associated with stress reduction. It’s also an aerobic activity, meaning it gets more oxygen into the blood for better circulation, which tends to promote a good mood. And singing necessitates deep breathing, another anxiety reducer. Deep breathing is a key to meditation and other relaxation techniques, and you can’t sing well without it.’ Some studies even suggest that singing can be used as part of treatment for patients with asthma or COPD.
But it does not end there: researchers are studying the effect singing on linguistic development and even as part of therapy to delay the onset of dementia! Part of the reason singing karaoke or TV talent shows are so popular is that performing a song before an audience builds confidence. The benefits of singing are endless, some even predict that singing may be the new yoga!
For me, singing is not about being a star, but about joy and sharing that joy with others through teaching and singing with my bands. The only regret is that I did not start earlier in life. So please do not let lack of confidence or time hold you back, just sing!!!
Want to learn more?
Julia Layton ‘Does singing make you happy?’ 2 June 2009.HowStuffWorks.com. https://science.howstuffworks.com/life/inside-the-mind/emotions/singing-happy.htm
Berkeley Wellness ‘Singing Is Good Medicine’ 18 December 2015 http://www.berkeleywellness.com/healthy-mind/stress/article/singing-good-medicine
Tania de Jong ’10 Reasons to Make Singing Your Happiness Drug!’ 12 September 2014 https://www.huffpost.com/entry/10-reasons-to-make-singing-your-happiness_n_6203630
Also check out her Ted Talk: https://youtu.be/I_HOBr8H9EM
Linda Moon ‘The wellness benefits of finding your voice through singing’ 29 November 2017 https://www.theage.com.au/lifestyle/health-and-wellness/the-wellness-benefits-of-finding-your-voice-through-singing-20171129-gzv2hb.html