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How Singing Affects Your Brain (Six Reasons to Sing)

Audrey Hunt, author of "Anyone Can Sing," explains how we make sound.

Singers have lower levels of cortisol which lowers stress.

Singers have lower levels of cortisol which lowers stress.

“I think music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”

— Billy Joel

Good News for All You Shower Singers

Do you enjoy singing? Whether you sing professionally or limit your singing to the shower, I have some good news for you. When you release your voice, endorphins (feel-good chemicals) are released in your brain.

This brings about positive psychological effects. If you suffer from depression or are temporarily down in the dumps, singing will help lift you from your dark place into the light.

So stop worrying about your singing and start boosting those feel-good endorphins.

Six Healthy Reasons to Sing

Singing is beneficial to us in many ways, but do you know how important singing is for your brain? Whether you're a shower singer, professional diva, or take part in a choir, all types of singing will bring benefits to your brain.

Take a look at the following list, then get busy and sing your favorite song. Singing will:

  1. Boost your immune system.
  2. Release stress.
  3. Benefit your heart.
  4. Increase your energy.
  5. Improve your memory.
  6. Foster clear thinking through correct breathing.

I'll show you how this all works in a minute. Meanwhile, please sit back, fix yourself a nice cool glass of H20 and read the following short story about one of my favorite students, T.J. Burke.

TJ in rehersal.

TJ in rehersal.

The Case of Vocalist T.J. Burke

His voice was as smooth as silk projecting a relaxed, beautiful tone. TJ. was master over his voice which covered an extensive vocal range to afford him complete singing freedom. His positive attitude and winning smile brought joy to his many fans, including me, his vocal teacher, and coach.

Then one day, he called me to cancel his voice lesson. TJ. didn't feel good. He wasn't sick; he just felt blue and lethargic. I convinced him that he needed a vocal lesson more than ever and to make an effort to keep his appointment. Reluctantly he agreed.

Later that same day, as I greeted TJ. at the door, I noticed that TJ's winning smile was gone, replaced by a sadness that bothered me. He agreed to "go through a lesson." Beginning with breathing exercises to stir up his energy, I followed up with some scale work using a smooth, legato tone. He began to perk up a bit but not quite enough to suit me. I still had more work to do.

Then I introduced staccato singing to TJ. If you're not familiar with this term, Wikipedia.org gives this definition of staccato:

Staccato (stak-ka-to) (Italian for "detached") is a form of musical articulation. Modern notation signifies a note of shortened duration.

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Staccato singing requires much more control over the diaphragmatic muscle, and TJ would have to direct all of his thinking towards this vocal technique. There would be no time for dwelling on negative thoughts.

The result was like pouring sunshine over a dreary cloud. His countenance changed from sadness to joy in a matter of seconds. His brain welcomed this energy and rewarded him with more endorphins, causing feelings of happiness to permeate throughout his being.


Embrace your own individual singing voice. Boost your immune system and release stress.

Embrace your own individual singing voice. Boost your immune system and release stress.

How Deep Breathing Affects The Brain

One of the best assurances for an active brain is deep breathing. As you breathe from the diaphragmatic (belly) area, you strengthen your brain and boost your attention span.

Diaphragmatic breathing will also help in developing a better voice. If you are still inhaling by lifting the chest, you are robbing your voice of complete control. Every note you sing requires air for the tone to ride on. Using the diaphragmatic muscle provides this much-needed air. All other techniques involved in singing require air supplied by the most critical singing tool: the diaphragm.

Upper-body (vertical) breathing is shallow and often erratic. Changing the way you breathe will lower stress levels within minutes. You can even lower your blood pressure by inhaling from the belly instead of the chest.

Controlled breathing may help to boost the immune system.

Note:

  • The human brain requires between 500 and 600 milliliters of oxygen per minute. That’s 25 percent of the body’s total oxygen consumption.
  • Proper (as opposed to high chest) deep breathing (diaphragmatic) may be an adjunct to oxygen saturation in the plasma.
  • The brain stem controls our breathing.

Avoid using the chest and lifting the shoulders as you inhale. Instead, inflate at the waistline and lower ribcage. Practice until this new way of breathing becomes automatic and replaces all chest breathing.

How the Brain Reacts to Singing

Singing changes the brain by moving musical vibrations through you, altering both your physical and emotional landscape. Because singing is like getting a dose of the perfect tranquilizer, it soothes your nerves and elevates your spirit. The singer feels both calm and energized, and it doesn't cost a cent.

Who doesn't love the feeling of joy? Forget the drugs and alcohol. The endorphins which are released through singing will give you an immediate sense of pleasure. And you can sing standing, sitting, and with good breathing technique, you can sing laying down.

Researchers have studied Group singing and have shown that singers have lower cortisol levels, which lowers stress. Whether you join a choir or prefer to sing solo, singing relieves anxiety and improves the quality of your life.

Sing Along Now

Final Words

Singing engages the brain's reward system. Research has now found that when we sing to any song that is on our mind, the act of singing aloud is beneficial to our health. In addition, singing helps improve the aging process. But let me remind you that you need to sing regularly to notice the benefits. And, don't worry about how your singing sounds. Just sing!

Heart Research UK, a leading United Kingdom Heart Health Organization, started a campaign to encourage people to join a choir. It's a terrific workout for the lungs and heart.

In the words of the late Karen Carpenter:

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud
Sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not
Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Sing, sing a song
Let the world sing along
Sing of love there could be
Sing for you and me.

Sing, sing a song
Make it simple to last
Your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not

Good enough for anyone
Else to hear
Just sing, sing a song.

Now that you have the lyrics in front of you sing along with the video below.

Sing with joy and good health to you all.

Touching and Uplifting

Resources

http://www.wikipedia.org

How Breathing Calms Your Brain | Psychology Today

https://littleburstsofinspiration.wordpress.com/category/singing-and-wellness/

‘Etude’ music magazine for the period 1883 to 1957 has also indicated consistent and adamant support for the (physical and psychological) health benefits of singing (Hunter, 1999) (1)

http://ideas.time.com/2013/08/16/singing-changes-your-brain/

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

Questions & Answers

Question: Should I breathe through my nose or mouth when singing?

Answer: Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Vocalists must avoid a dry throat. Breathing through the mouth will cause extreme dryness to the entire throat area. Keep your vocal cords well hydrated by drinking plenty of room-temperature water.

Question: What are some disadvantages of singing?

Answer: The only disadvantage of singing is when we over-sing, force the voice or try to sing too high or too low. Learning proper vocal technique will teach you to sing correctly and save your voice. Singing is meant to last us a lifetime. Learning how to breathe diaphragmatically is both healthy and protects our voice from abuse. So sing with joy!

© 2015 Audrey Hunt

Comments

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 26, 2020:

rccgrcp

Singing provides us with endless health benefits. It's also free so why not sing everyday and kick in those feel good endorphins. Thanks.

Gupi

Keep singing my friend. We are facing challenges like never before. Thanks for being here and take care.

Midge on September 01, 2019:

I am running a baby sing-along class because of my belief in the power of singing and want moms to have that with their little ones.....it also helps with cognition and starting when the brain is so formable is huge!

Gupi on June 14, 2019:

Thank you for sharing that motivational article about the benefits of singing. I will definitely make a habit to sing more often.

rccgcrp on May 18, 2019:

Humm...so singing can be this beneficial....thanks for this information !

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 15, 2019:

Hi William

How nice it is to see you again. And your comments are absolutely right on! Breathing correctly influences us physically and mentally. I often wonder why we aren't taught to breathe from the diaphragm while in school.

Thank you for posting this on social media. I hope you're doing fine.

William F Torpey from South Valley Stream, N.Y. on April 26, 2019:

Hi Audrey, I've just re-read this hub. I'll be 84 next month and I have now found your advice on breathing properly for singing to be even more important for one's overall health -- both physically and mentally. I've just got to post this now on Facebook and Twitter. Thank you for the good advice.

Taylor on April 25, 2019:

Thank you for your hellp

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on February 03, 2017:

Linda

You just keep right on singing! IT'S fun, good for the mind and a great way to express yourself.

Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on September 11, 2016:

While I continue to sound terrible while singing, I will never allow that to stop me...even though my family and friends plead with me to STOP. :)

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on August 24, 2016:

norlawrence

Great to see you here. So nice to know you enjoyed this article and even learned from it. Thank you!

Audrey

Norma Lawrence from California on August 24, 2016:

Great article. I learned a lot. I really enjoyed it. Thanks

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on May 07, 2016:

Hello Shyron

So nice to see you here. I'm so glad to know you enjoyed my hub. I have such respect for you as a writer. So when I receive a pat on the back from you Im over the moon! Thank you dear friend.

Audrey

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on April 30, 2016:

Thank you Audrey for all the tips

On singing and how it removes the strife

From the mundane times in life

*

*

Blessings and hugs my dear friend

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on April 05, 2016:

RTalloni

HELLO my friend. Yes indeed - participating in both a choir and congregational singing helps to improve the aging process. In addition, there's the social aspect to consider. As we age we tend to reduce socializing...not realizing that we need it more than ever.

Thanks so much for your kind support.

RTalloni on April 05, 2016:

This is great information to have and to share. As our society ages it's very important to be aware of ways to improve the aging process, as you put it. People who go to churches where congregational singing of hymns is a regular part of the services must benefit from participating on more levels than they realize!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 23, 2016:

ignugent17

Appreciate your enthusiasm for my hub. Keep on singing my friend!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 23, 2016:

Rajan

Thanks for reading my hub. I,m glad you like T.J.s story and the video. Have a pleasant day.

Surabi

Very happy to hear you liked my hub!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on March 23, 2016:

Rajan

Thanks for reading my hub. I,m glad you like T.J.s story and the video. Have a pleasant day.

Surabi

Very happy to hear you liked my hub!

ignugent17 on February 16, 2016:

Wow thanks! I will start singing now.

Have a good day. :-)

Surabhi Kaura on January 23, 2016:

I just loved this article! Much Love.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on January 22, 2016:

Singing does buoy up the spirits though I was not aware of its other benefits. Thanks for motivating moment of TJ's life and also the wonderful Karen Carpenter video. Sharing this hub.

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on December 08, 2015:

sujaya - Thank you for taking the time to read this hub. Glad you like the song.

ARainey - It's such a "feel-good" song isn't it? And the words are absolutely true. Thanks so much for being here.

chef-de-jour - "verbal jogging" - this is wonderful! Clever and oh so true. I appreciate your fine comments, the vote up and the sharing. You've put a smile on this sick (flu) face and I thank you!

Vellur - Hello my friend. You've said it all in your comments. We are too judgmental about how we sing. And yes, we must let go of our inhibitions and start singing! Thank you.

vespawoolf - Thank you for reading my hub and taking time to write comments. I do appreciate it. T.J. is one of those special people that makes you feel good just to be around him. And he's one heck of a great singer. My best to you.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on December 08, 2015:

It sounds likeI need too sing more! TJ's example is a testimony to the benefits of singing. Thanks!

Audrey Hunt (author) from Pahrump NV on November 30, 2015:

jodah,

I love this song too. It's one of those feel good songs. Thank you for reading my article. Always a pleasure to see you dear friend.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on November 18, 2015:

Music is healing and singing soothes the soul! Great you helped the vocalist to get back to singing. It hink we all are too judgemental about how we sing and how our voice sounds. I guess we just have to let go of all our inhibitions and start singing. Great hub.