Singing for Health and Well-Being — and Fun!
by Mary Pat Graham, Founder and Director, SING FOR YOUR LIFE
Among the many activities available to help us age gracefully and happily is singing! Singing — especially singing with others — is not only fun, it also has surprising benefits for mental and physical health. And the good news is that these benefits are available to everyone: trained vocalist or rank amateur, shy singer or confident belter of showtunes.
What can singing do for you? First, of course, it lifts your mood. We breathe more deeply when we sing, which is physically invigorating. Singing can also lower your heart rate and calm your mind. There is increasing evidence that singing can help manage pain. In fact, in Great Britain the concept of “singing on prescription” has taken hold, with some doctors encouraging people to sing regularly for health and well-being.
Again, it doesn’t matter if you are a “good” singer. Sing simply for release. Your own joy and satisfaction are good for you!
As wonderful as it is to sing on your own, singing with others is even better. Creating music with others is not only deeply satisfying, it helps binds us to one another and, in so doing, singing benefits society as a whole. Here’s how:
In lifting your voice with others, you are drawn into listening to them. You learn to accept your fellow singers’ imperfections. You overlook annoyances and petty differences to see and hear the beauty being created. You surrender ego (your personal voice) to the common good (the sound of the whole). Listening. Acceptance. Contributing to the common good. In embracing these, you create a kinder, more positive world.
There are many ways to include singing in your life. Sing in the shower or in the car, while walking or cooking. If you’re out of practice, start with humming. Sing songs from your childhood or sing along with favorite recordings. Find a singing buddy and get together once a week to sing songs you like, with piano or guitar, or no accompaniment at all. (Wine can help in the beginning!) Take a class or, if you’re ready for the time commitment, join a choir in your area.
No matter which path works for you, when you sing you improve your own life and build a better world — one song at a time.
SING FOR YOUR LIFE: Classes (currently for women-only) are designed for singers wanting a group singing experience without performance expectations or audition requirement. Sing for Your Friends classes offer a safe environment for vocal exploration.
Greater Seattle Choral Consortium (GSCC): Bringing together over 80 of the Seattle area’s premiere choral arts organizations in the spirit of cooperation and collegiality. For a complete listing of their member choirs, visit their web site.
Below are some area choruses that do not require auditions to join:
Cascade Foothills Chorale: A non-audition adult choir in Enumclaw.
Market Street Singers: Although they are a community choir in Ballard, they “welcome both singing and non-singing members, no matter where you call home.”
OK Chorale: A community of folks who “love to sing with others in four part harmony: folk, popular, Beatles, classical, holiday, Irish, Broadway. No auditions. Rehearsals are fun and no one gets hurt.”
Phinney Neighborhood Community Chorus: Non-audition adult choir which performs “to share our love of music and to support communities near and far.”
Seattle Labor Chorus: A nonprofit organization “dedicated to economic and social justice, and the fundamental right of all workers to organize as a means of securing a living wage.”