Belt Out a Song for Better Health

Interesting article briefly summarizing singing benefits described  in a book by Michael Miller M.D., called Heal Your Heart:

‘Opening our mouths for a bite of the proverbial “apple a day” has its place—but to really keep the doctor away, we should open wide and let out some songs. Why? Because singing has numerous health benefits, recent research shows. And the rewards are ours even if we warble off-key or forget half the lyrics.’

As Dr. Miller explains, bursting into song can:

  • Make you happier and more relaxed
  • Promote cardiovascular health
  • Provide aerobic and respiratory benefits
  • Build strength
  • Think of the world as your stage
  • Be a songwriter
  • Join a musical group
  • Try karaoke
  • Go “caroling” – any time of year

The whole article.

There are also benefits for our heart’s health, which include eliciting positive emotions and easing stress. Dr. Miller writes in his book: “Musical taste aside, it’s clear that music of any genre has a physiological effect not only on heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate, but also on the lining of our blood vessels. The endothelium, that barometer of emotions, dilates to the music the listener finds joyful and constricts during music that provokes the stress response.” There are three ways that music benefits our heart:

  1. Heart Rate Variability – Music can help train your HRV to be more adaptive. Your heart gets used to changing its rate based on the tempo of the music that you are listening. And thus gets used to being more flexible.
  2. Inflammation – Researchers have begun to look into how music can have anti-inflammatory effects on the heart. And they have come to the conclusion that soothing music can improve parasympathetic tone and reduce episodes of congestive heart failure.
  3. Faster Recovery – Dr. Miller discusses a number of studies including one in particular that involved patients who were allowed to listen to their choice of music while undergoing heart surgery. The postoperative time spent in the surgical ICU for those assigned to music was reduced from nearly 28 hours to 22 hours. At first glance, this may not seem like a much shorter period of time, but if you are a patient, the quicker you can be moved out of the ICU to a quieter and more private area, the closer you are to recovery, hospital discharge, and rehabilitation.

The whole article.

Singing … et al …

The stage is our canvas,
we paint with our voices,
we blend and combine them
into masterpieces.
Happy faces drive us forward
and reassure us
that what we do,
we do with all our heart and devotion.

This is how the Slovenian vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile describes itself. And it is really impressive to listen as well as to watch how they do it.

Often when I discuss our SingingTouch workshops with potential clients, their first reaction tends to be: “I have no voice …” or even “I am really tone deaf”! The fact is, that the tone deafness is really a rear health condition, and in most cases people are simply afraid of their own voice.

Perpetual Jazzily sings on a professional level and what is particularly interesting in this well known song (Africa from Toto), is what they do on top of the singing. The way how they use their bodies and the stage clearly shows, that there can be other ways to participate in choir performances – probably everyone can clap hands, flip fingers or stomp their feet. This could be a way for those from our potential clients, who “don’t have voice”, to join their colleagues and participate in SingingTouch workshops. And often they can be positively surprised, when many of them “find their voice” when supported by co-workers and teammates. It is a great feeling and a lot of fun.

Workplace singing

Last year, while working on a concept and business plan for our company Artistic Interventions Inc., one Sunday evening I turned on my favorite television station TVOntario and to my delight, there was a BBC program called The Choir: Sing While You Work. Successful British choirmaster Gareth Malone had been presenting a very similar idea to what I was planning to do – bringing choir singing to a workplace. Based on his successful work with children and later with Military Wives, Gareth decided to coach four workplace choirs to sing in a competition.

Their approach was slightly different from ours, as they ‘cherry-picked’ best voices through auditions, and then worked with those to compete against similar choirs from other organization. We in our SingingTouch workshops, on the other hand, don’t differentiate musical or voice capacity or qualities of our clients. At Artistic Interventions Inc. we strongly believe that everyone in an organization can and should have their voice heard and everyone can participate.

Following on from the success of the 2012 series, Sing While You Work had continued in 2013 with the second series, when Gareth Malone formed choirs from the staff of five organizations – P&O Ferries, Birmingham City Council, Sainsbury’s (supermarket giant), Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Citi bank. This reality show allows viewers to follow the process from forming a choir, through rehearsals, building strengths on the musical level as well as human level among colleagues and team-members, up to nerve-wracking competition performances. And although the whole process takes just a few months, many of the participating choirs continue singing together even after the program finished.

Gareth Malone has done a lot of great work promoting choir-singing among amateur singers, showing clearly all those benefits one can gain from actively participating in music making. Our goal is to bring similar opportunities and benefits to our clients here in Canada.


Singing is the Key to Long Life

“When you sing with a group of people, you learn how to subsume yourself into a group consciousness because a capella singing is all about the immersion of the self into the community. That’s one of the great feelings – to stop being me for a little while and to become us. That way lies empathy, the great social virtue.”

This great quote is from a short essay where Brian Eno summarizes positive aspects of a capella singing. He describes weekly group singing with his friends and its benefits as following: “I believe that singing is the key to long life, a good figure, a stable temperament, increased intelligence, new friends, super self-confidence, heightened sexual attractiveness and a better sense of humor.”

Our effort at ARTISTIC Interventions Inc. is to bring bring these benefits straight to our client’s workplace.