I am a member of a woman’s acapella group (ages 10 to 92) and have made the joyous discovery that singing makes me, well, joyous. I can have the most stressful, demanding, sad, or non-rewarding day but when I end that day singing with my chorus family, my spirit is lifted. There is a rush in the blending of voices, a power in the reaching of those unreachable notes, and a pride in the achievement of beautiful sound that can only be found in the choral arena. Our choir director sent out an email with the following information about the healthy heart benefits of synchronous singing.
JOINING THE CHORUS HAS HEALING BENEFITS
When people join their voices in song, their hearts come along for the ride, speeding up,
slowing down and (ﬁguratively) swelling in unison while much of the chorale’s muscuar
movement and brain activity synchronizes as well.
Now Swedish researchers are examining whether it might be harnessed for
strengthening working relationships in teams and at schools.
The research, released in the open-access journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, is the
latest to explore the health beneﬁts of making music. It’s already been found that
learning to play a musical instrument can have long-term cognitive beneﬁts and that
listening to music can lower blood pressure, ease pain and provide connections to
happier, healthier times and memories.
That it can synchronize the heartbeats of choral singers very quickly offers a health
beneﬁt that’s harder to characterize. In individuals, the Swedish researchers found,
singing of several different kins imposes a calm breathing pattern, an increases heart
rate variability, the routine changes in heart rate that are considered a measure of “good
autonomic tone.” The long exhalations that singers use to sing long phrases appears to
stimulate the vagus nerve, slowing the heart and achieving the kink of relaxation seen in
practitioners of yoga.
But when a whole group experiences these beneﬁts, the effect may be mulitplicative.
Synchrony, an the rituals that instill it, provides a sense of social belonging, which can
ward off loneliness and the substantial health risks that attend it. And if a greater sense
of cooperation ensues, groups relying on teamwork might work more productively.
from the LA Times