Singing has a phenomenal positive effect on our inner-biology. It calms and yet energises people. Researchers have confirmed that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquiliser, the kind that both soothes our nerves and elevates our spirits.
Endorphins are released and the hormone oxytocin elevates throughly our bodies. Oxytocin, produced in the hypothalamus, triggers feelings of happiness. It is referred to as the “love hormone” because it activates feelings of trust. It’s the hormone that gives us the sensation of bonding with somebody.
Choral singing has grown in popularity in recent years. This is when people sing as a group with little to no instrumentation. Those who partake often describe it as a leisure activity, in large part because of its social, feel-good aspect.
Any performing singer who enjoys being on stage knows that they can feel a special bond with their audience. Beyond just being enthusiastic about their fans — that bond they feel is actually based in brain chemistry! Singers put themselves out there, exposing their vulnerability, and at the same time, oxytocin is pushing them to trust and love their audience and the people they’re performing to. The actual singing is forging a chemical reaction and deepening a sense of human connection.
Whether you realise it or not, when you sing, even if just to yourself while you’re doing something else, your brain becomes mindlessly focused on that one particular task at hand. It acts as a very positive form of distraction from the stresses and strains of your life. It’s as if all anxieties melt away, the world is simply the music and it absorbs you.
It’s a pity that music becomes an optional subject at secondary level school. When I visit primary schools I can often hear children singing as they learn. As a psychologist I am always most impressed because I know that everyone (teacher, special needs assistants and the children) are gaining psychologically and physiologically from such experiences. May children always sing in our schools and in our homes!
(C) Shane Martin