TIME: Singing Changes Your Brain

TIME: Singing Changes Your Brain

Singing Changes Your Brain – Excerpts 

Group singing has been scientifically proven to lower stress, relieve anxiety, and elevate endorphins

By  @StacyHorn — Aug. 16, 2013
When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape. Group singing, for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all. It takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony. So it’s not surprising that group singing is on the rise. According to Chorus America, 32.5 million adults sing in choirs, up by almost 10 million over the past six years. Many people think  of church music when you bring up group singing, but there are over 270,000 choruses across the country and they include gospel groups to show choirs like the ones depicted in Glee to strictly amateur groups …

As the popularity of group singing grows, science has been hard at work trying to explain why it has such a calming yet energizing effect on people. What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes your nerves and elevates your spirits.

The elation may come from endorphins, a hormone released by singing, which is associated with feelings of pleasure.  Or it might be from oxytocin, another hormone released during singing, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which may explain why still more studies have found that singing lessens feelings of depression and loneliness….

The benefits of singing regularly seem to be cumulative. In one study, singers were found to have lower levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.  A very preliminary investigation suggesting that our heart rates may sync up during group singing could also explain why singing together sometimes feels like a guided group meditation.  Study after study has found that singing relieves anxiety and contributes to quality of life. Dr. Julene K. Johnson, a researcher who has focused on older singers, recently began a five year study to examine group singing as an affordable method to improve the health and well-being of older adults.

It turns out you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards.  According to one 2005 study, group singing “can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.”

Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/#ixzz2cC9WrqxS


One thought on “TIME: Singing Changes Your Brain

  1. I’ve understood Colossians 3:16 to not only give the _command_ to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”, but to also offer the _how_ to do it (namely, “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”).

    The Word can dwell in us through reading and meditation, but when we put the Word to song with grace in our hearts, it can dwell in us “richly”, because singing involves the mind and emotions in ways that reading or meditating alone do not. To put it another way, when we sing the Word with grace in our hearts, we’re more likely to apply both sides of the brain.

    Thus, I appreciate your interest in hymnology, Steve, and for sharing the above article.

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