Singing...Backed By Science

The Research

In 2015, a research team with Great Britain’s Royal College of Music’s Center for Performance Science, took saliva samples and hooked electric nodes and breathing belts to 15 singers in a choir to see how their bodies behave during a rehearsal and concert.

The study found that both during the relatively low-stress rehearsal and even the performance, the act of singing reduced the ratio of the stress hormones cortisol and cortisone in singers, providing physiological data to show what we always suspected: Singing relaxes us. The study also revealed, watching a concert led people in the audience to experience reduced negative mood states such as fear, sadness or anxiety, and increased positive mood states such as relaxation and a sense of connectedness.

According to another U.K. study, scientists saw measurable benefits of singing among cancer patients including pain reduction, faster recuperation and slowing advancement of some diseases. 

Findings published in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine last year support the U.K. studies and show that singing strengthens the immune system as well. The research team from the University of Frankfurt, in Germany, tested the blood of people who sang in a professional choir, before and after a 60-minute rehearsal. The scientists discovered that concentrations of immunoglobulin A – proteins in the immune system which function as antibodies – increased significantly during the rehearsal.

Meanwhile, according to The Chorus Impact Study, conducted by the advocacy group Chorus America, being part of a chorus has a positive impact on many aspects of wellbeing, especially in singers ages 65 and up.

A survey conducted by the group, found that people who sing in a chorus feel more connected to others, and are less likely to feel isolated, they are more active in their communities and feel more tolerant toward others. Approximately, 69 percent of singers age 65 and older, reported a “very good” quality of life, compared to 22 percent of the general public in the same age group. Nearly 20 percent of older singers reported improvements in one or more chronic health conditions due to singing.

Other studies have shown that:

  • Singing releases endorphins into your system and makes you feel energized and uplifted.
  • Singing gives the lungs a workout, making us breathe more deeply than many forms of strenuous exercise and improving our aerobic capacity.
  • Singing strengthens both our respiratory system and vocal cords.
  • Singing stimulates circulation and tones abdominal and intercostal muscles.