Singing Jazz is Good for Your Health
Gail Sidonie Sobat
Well, science is finally catching up with what we singers already know - singing is good for you. Stacy Horn from Time notes the elevatory mood brought on by singing: "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."
And Patricia Casey of Independent.ie notes a number of studies that celebrate the healthy power of singing: "One study found that a choir singing Mozart's Requiem released an immunoglobulin s-IgA that assists our immune defences, while others have shown that choir music reduces cortisol, one of the markers of stress in the body.
"Prolactin, normally produced by lactating mothers, may be released by singing and so contributing to the calming effect of singing. This may explain why even sad music can make us feel better. And even mediocre singing has a positive effect on the choir members.
"Another hypothesis proposed by Dr Björn Vickhoff from the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, is that 'song is a form of regular, controlled breathing, since breathing out occurs on the song phrases and inhaling takes place between these.'"
"Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at the Institute of Education, University of London, has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing for 30 years and he says the health benefits of singing are both physical and psychological: 'Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its normally positive effect in reducing stress levels through the action of the endocrine system which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being. Psychological benefits are also evident when people sing together as well as alone because of the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour.'"
Here is a short documentary on the benefits of choral singing (in any genre) from NHS Choices:
Of course, we singers have always trumpeted the uplifting effects of singing. That's why we do what we do! So sing and scat and stay well!
This week's jazz article from Top Master in Health Care Administration, "Mind, Body & Jazz: How Jazz Can Improve Your Health," offers info on how jazz can make us healthy.
Jazz & Life: "I don't sing because I'm happy; I'm happy because I sing." ~William James