I bet when the majority of people think of group singing they think of church. I went to church a little as a kid/teen and singing was definitely one of the things I liked most. I felt good and I felt a unity with the other people in the room on a deep level. It was a level that I could not get to during the rest of the service. I felt connected and happy.
What Happens Inside
When I looked into the science behind what happens to people when they sing in a group like this I was not surprised to find that one of the things it does is release oxytocin (a feel good hormone that also fosters connection).
“Oxytocin concentrations increased significantly in both groups after the singing lesson.”
And in the same study, lower levels of cortisol were found in the blood (a drug released during stress) indicating lower stress levels after singing.
Who Showed the Most Improvement
The groups that had the most positive benefit of lower stress and happier mood as well as feeling connected to other people were women who were not professional singers. Although men and professionals did experience small changes – it is worth noting that women amateurs experienced way more.
There have also been a number of studies done on people age 70 and over as well as people with dementia. Singing in a group – even if the singer is not great at – appears to be a low-cost simple and enjoyable way to improve the quality of life and independence of our elders significantly.
Music therapy in moderate and severe dementia of Alzheimer’s type: A case-control study Svansdottir, H.B. and Snaedal, J. (2006). Geriatrics Department, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland. – International Psychogeriatrics: 2006 International Psychogeriatric Association
“Twenty-three subjects in a case-controlled study diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia that participated in a thirty-minute singing group consisting of singing of preferred songs experienced:
- Significant improvements in sociability
- Increased self-confidence and positive affect
- Significant decrease in anxiety and perceived aggressiveness
- Improved overall quality of life”
Children and adolescents with autism can also be helped significantly! In the study I read, all areas that were monitored showed significant positive improvement.
“The significant effect size, combined with the homogeneity of the studies, leads to the conclusion that all music intervention, regardless of purpose or implementation, has been effective for children and adolescents with autism.”
This has been such a validating research project because I think most people feel good when they sing together. It is a feeling of happiness and connectedness and I think on a spiritual level this is really what we are all seeking!
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Happy singing – leave comments! -Sara 🙂