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Singing

Significant research on the physiological, neurological and emotional benefits of singing in general have been undertaken by major universities and research institutions.  This research reveals that regular singing can help to elevate mood, increase immunity and provide a first rate cognitive workout among other benefits.

1. “The neurochemistry of music” (A meta study) Mona Lisa Chanda and Daniel J. Levitin, Department of Psychology, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Trends in Cognitive Science, April 2013

 

This comprehensive review compiles and evaluates the evidence found in 200 studies on the benefits of music including singing and its capability to significantly improve psychological health and wellbeing through the engagement of neurochemical systems responsible for reward, motivation, pleasure, stress / arousal, immunity, and social affiliation.

◦ Listening to preferred music stimulates the release of dopamine (the brain neurochemical responsible for pleasure and reward), reducing the use of opiate drugs in postoperative pain

◦ Singing can increase levels of Immunoglobulin A and decrease levels of stress

◦ Singing increases levels of oxytocin promoting social affiliation

◦ Music is shown to modify and regulate automatic systems such as: heart rate, respiration rate, perspiration and other automatic systems

2. “Investigating group singing activity with people with dementia and their caregivers” Davidson, J. W. and Fedele, J. (2011).  University of Western Australia, Australia. Musicae Scientiae, 15(3), 402-422.

 

A study of a six-week singing program conducted with two groups of adults over 70 with mild to moderate dementia (29 individuals) and their caregivers (19 individuals) in Australia.

◦ Persons with dementia engaged in reminiscent storytelling 60% of the time after attending the (singing) sessions

◦ 29% of participants experienced improved short-term memory after the (singing) sessions

◦ Participants showed improved social interaction with the facilitator, caregivers, and other participants during the sessions

◦ 89% of participants appeared lucid during the session

3. “Music therapy in moderate and severe dementia of Alzheimer’s type: A case-control study” Svansdottir, H.B. and Snaedal, J. (2006). Geriatrics Department, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland. – International Psychogeriatrics: 2006 International Psychogeriatric Association

 

Twenty-three subjects in a case-controlled study diagnosed with moderate to severe dementia that participated in a thirty-minute singing group consisting of singing of preferred songs experienced:

◦ Significant improvements in sociability

◦ Increased self-confidence and positive affect

◦ Significant decrease in anxiety and perceived aggressiveness

◦ Improved overall quality of life

In Summary

When you sing, musical vibrations move through you, altering your physical and emotional landscape.  Group singing takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, shares it with a roomful of people and it comes back as something even more thrilling: harmony.  Stacy Horn, Singing Changes Your Brain Time

The Dead Sea seen from Herod the Great's Masada Fortress

Photograph by Kate Larson