Sing on, my friends, sing on!!!
Scientific research in recent years has begun confirming what choristers have known for eons: Choral singing is good for both physical and mental health.
Dennis F. Tupman, a long-time choral singer who sings in two choirs in 100 Mile House, B.C., is president of the B.C. Choral Federation, an advocacy group representing more than 150 choirs in the province. Tupman, who is also a music consultant in the B.C. school system, has been collecting research on the health benefits of choral singing and summarizes recent journal findings: "It boosts dopamine and endorphins--the feel-good hormones--and reduces the perception of pain. It protects against effects of Alzheimer's disease and promotes healthy aging. People who sing get fewer illnesses and heal faster.
Singers, even smokers and asthmatics, have healthier cardiovascular systems and better lung function. It reduces anxiety and can help lift depression. It helps children with learning disabilities learn to read and it has proven to boost the IQ of young children. And people who stutter don’t stutter when they sing."
Recent U.S. research has found evidence that singing may indeed help fight disease. University of California, Irvine, researchers Robert Beck, an assistant professor of education, and Dr. Thomas Cesario, dean of medicine, took saliva samples from Choral singers before and after two rehearsals and a performance of Beethoven's complex choral masterpiece "Missa Solemnis." They found singers’ levels of immune-system proteins increased--particularly immunoglobulin A., which rose 50 percent during rehearsals and 240 percent during performance--while the stress hormone cortisol fell. The researchers concluded that singing, particularly if it is accompanied by feelings of euphoria, may stave off illness and fight disease. *
* Excerpt from "Choir Girl" by Anne Mullens, Reader's Digest (Canada), August 2006, p. 93-96