As a choirmaster of mostly amateur and Un-auditioned choirs, I have long held the belief that singing in a choir should first and foremost be fun! I have always tried to ensure that any rehearsal I take is engaging for the singers and always ends with a sense of achievement, no matter how small. I know a lot of my choir members come to rehearsals not just to learn the music but to have a “night out” and enjoy doing something together with other people.
It’s fairly common for choral conductors to try to encourage their singers to smile when they sing as this often tends to brighten the tone and can therefore help to avoid the choir going flat. More importantly, I would like to think that my choirs smile because they are enjoying singing not only for themselves but sharing music with others.
There is now a lot of evidence to suggest that as well as fun, singing is in actual fact good for you. Researchers at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, found that choristers’ heartbeats synchronise when they sing together, bringing about a calming effect that is as beneficial to our health as yoga.
The scientists asked a group of young singers to perform 3 choral exercises – humming, singing a hymn and chanting. They monitored their heart rhythms during each, which showed that singing has a dramatic effect on heart rate variability, which is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.
So in summary therefore, singing is not only fun but it’s also healthy. For any of you who, like me, aren’t particularly disciplined when it comes to maintaining any form of gym membership or adopting as healthy a lifestyle as perhaps you would like, maybe joining a choir is the answer!