Uplift Your Spirit and Sing Your Way to Health and Joy in the Years Beyond 60
I think many of us harbor a secret dream about singing onstage with a rock band. I had this dream fulfilled last week when my choir director, Leah Hokanson, gave us the opportunity to sing with her backup band.
It’s true that my voice likely got lost among the 50 other voices beside me. That’s what gave me the courage to belt out every song and to have fun doing it. Such a high!
Singing Boosts Us on Every Level
Many of us grew up singing in church, but even outside of a church setting, singing in a choir can be a spiritual and healing experience. Peace, unity, belonging, and connection are some of the feelings we experience when we sing together. It uplifts our spirit and gives us hope.
You probably were sung to as a child or sang to your own children. Singing is known to help children learn language skills. Songs remain with us as we age, and often those with dementia can sing all the words to songs they learned many years before.
Don’t worry about thinking you can’t sing or that your voice is unusual. That didn’t stop Macy Gray, Janis Joplin, Bob Dylan, or Leonard Cohen from having a career in music.
Even professional singers need to develop their talent. Singing is a skill like any other. It takes practice. There are learnable techniques that can enable you to trust your voice and allow your natural tone to emerge.
Singing together is a communal form of self-entertainment and joy, and it’s in our history. There are choirs all over the world, similar to mine, that welcome all voices into the mix.
Our Song Keepers Women’s Choir connects all ages and professions together. Our oldest member will be 100 years old next week, and singing might have a lot to do with it.
Physical Health Benefits
Singing is a full-body experience. It encourages deep breathing, which delivers more blood to the brain. It can increase lung capacity and strengthen your diaphragm.
Standing while singing can strengthen your legs and improve balance. Singing boosts immunity and can reduce stress and heart disease.
Mental Health Benefits
Singing makes you feel good. It is a natural anti-depressant. It’s fun, uplifts your spirit, and can be an instant mood-enhancer as it takes your mind off of daily worries and can transform a sad mood into bliss.
Group singing reduces stress and anxiety. It releases endorphins, hormones that make us feel happy, and oxytocin, a hormone that lowers stress and creates bonding. It’s not surprising then, that people who stutter when they speak often sing without a trace of a speech impediment.
Increases Confidence Using Your Voice
Realizing you can sing gives you confidence to use your voice in daily living. My friend Jean McLaren, now in her 90s, is a founding member of the Raging Grannies – an international group of older women who are social justice activists.
They found their voice and their power through singing. They dress up in clothes that mock stereotypes of older women and sing humorous songs that advocate for peace and the environment.
Builds Community and Belonging
Singing together is a powerful way to connect with others by sharing of heart, mind, soul, and emotions. It can help you learn a new language or culture, being a cross-cultural experience.
You likely sang as a child as a way to connect with friends and family. When people sing together in a group, heartbeats actually sync up. Singing together builds community and can restore harmony in our fragmented world.
The bonds felt by singing with others create intimacy and connection. It’s no surprise that choral singers tend to be some of the happiest people in the world.
Ready to Sing?
Appreciate the uniqueness of your own voice. Be like a kid again and sing for the fun of it.
Now that you’re primed to experience the singer’s high, search for your favourite version of Leonard Cohen’s well-loved song, “Hallelujah,” crank it up and sing your heart out. I’ll be doing the same where I live.
How often do you sing? Is it an individual or group experience? Do you sing in a choir? What’s your favourite song to sing? Please share your experience with our community!