The Surprising Benefits of Singing in a School Chorus

Read the Research and “Raise Your Voice!”

Recently, I was sitting in the Music Room in the Artsbarn, wrapping up a day of teaching. My last class that day was the Inly Chorus and I was struck by how much joy it brought to everyone involved, myself included. They are an amazing group of students with varying levels of musical ability, yet all so dedicated to their music.

It has been said that singing together “brings heartbeats into harmony.” Science has proven that when we sing, our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. Endorphins are released, making us healthier, happier, and more creative. Singing together has been a part of tribal music for thousands of years and still today provides environments in which we can form strong bonds and trust in one another. 

It is my strong belief that most anybody can sing, even those who think they can’t. Maybe at some time they were told to be quiet, or were judged for their less-than-perfect voice. Yet how many times have we belted out “Auld Lang Syne” on New Year’s Eve? “Happy Birthday” to loved ones? “Sweet Caroline” at baseball games? Singing is not just for the talented elite, it is for ALL of us. We ALL deserve to reap the rewards music offers.

As I reflected on that day’s chorus class, I saw evidence of all of these things. Each student sang from their heart with confidence, trust and support for each other and with an abundance of joy. They were fully engaged and mentally alert. No matter how they felt when they entered my room, each student was lifted by the communal and creative process. Singing together quickly began to share its rewards of happiness, contentment and human connection. The transformation, as always was magical. 

Meri-Lee Mafera has been teaching music at Inly School for nearly 15 years. She loves singing, teaching and directing musical theater, and feels lucky to be able to do all three at Inly. “I love my job!” she exclaims.

Meri-Lee is a graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, where she obtained her B.F.A. in piano and vocal performance. She completed her graduate studies at Boston University and the Guildhall School of Music in London. Some of her favorite summers have been spent performing and teaching at Tanglewood. Read her full bio

You can learn more about the Arts at Inly here.

Read about the latest research on the benefits of singing, as highlighted in Daniel Pink’s new book: 

Singing in a choir could be ‘the new exercise’—here’s the surprising science behind why

“Exercise is one of the few activities in life that is indisputably good for us,” writes Daniel H. Pink in his new book, When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing. “Choral singing might be the new exercise.”

“Choral singing calms the heart and boosts endorphin levels. It improves lung function. It increases pain thresholds and reduces the need for pain medication,” Pink claims, citing research published in Evolution and Human Behavior. It also seems to improve your outlook, boosting mood and self-esteem while alleviating feelings of stress and depression.

These aren’t simply effects of singing. “People who sing in a group report far higher well-being than those who sing solo,” he notes. It’s about synchronizing with others. Rowers and dancers have similarly shown a greater capacity to endure pain when performing in time with others. Read the full article here and watch a TED Talk. 

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