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  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • October 2018
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How a chorus can change your life — The body, mind and spirit benefits of singing

How can a chorus performance enrich your life? To this day I stand in awe at the turn of events that occurred for me 10 years ago. After seeing a newspaper notice of an upcoming local chorus event, I decided to attend. Little did I know that the chorus’s closing song, “What Would I Do Without My Music?” would strike a latent chord. As I began attending rehearsals, I felt like a spark that was dormant within me was reignited. This new hobby of mine was giving me a channel for expressing my joy of singing as well as showmanship, an important element for connecting with the audience. With movement and self-expression, I felt a sense of satisfaction conveying to the listeners the mood and message of our music.

Besides fulfilling the opportunity to use and share musical talents, belonging to a chorus can broaden your life in so many other ways. I’ve learned the value of experiencing supportive relationships with our members, of growing my self-esteem and self-confidence, and of enhancing my leadership skills. While personal growth is priceless, what gives me a true sense of fulfillment is being able to share my singing talent with others. Alone, I wouldn’t have had that kind of opportunity. However, within a chorus group, I am able to be a part of something so much bigger than myself, performing at local events and entertaining at charitable and civic functions.

I’m by no means alone in experiencing the many researched benefits of singing. Multiple studies have indicated that singing elevates our mood and makes us feel energized. While giving our lungs a workout and breathing more deeply, singing improves our aerobic capacity. Muscle tension is released! As our diaphragm, abdominal and intercostal muscles are strengthened, circulation is stimulated and our immune system is given a boost. Whether singing alone or with a group, psychological and physiological well-being is enhanced. Body, mind and spirit are the beneficiaries.

Singers experience an uplifted feeling while participating in a singalong, caroling at a nursing home, singing in a school performance or singing with a chorus or their church choir. Children, also, can be encouraged at home and in school to discover and nurture their singing talent. Fostering their enjoyment of singing at an early age will give them a head start to experiencing the ongoing benefits of as adults.

The positive effect of music is also felt by those afflicted with dementia. Participation in music activities builds on the preserved memory for well-known memorable songs from the past. Even when it’s difficult to retrieve memories, music may be recalled with less effort. Many studies show that words can often be sung more easily than spoken.

Research reveals that rhythm and music work on multiple parts of the brain, assisting patients with neurologic deficits to not only speak again, but even to walk and cope with the emotional challenges involved in the mental and physical aspects of recovery. Music has also been used in healing therapies for those suffering from strokes and Parkinson’s disease, helping them regain a sense of balance and symmetrical stride.

Singers aren’t the only ones who reap health benefits, adding zest to life. The listeners, too, are enriched and stimulated. Arts groups offer a variety of music to enhance our spirits, transport us away from weighty worries, and provide us opportunities to enjoy the simple pleasures of life along with friends and family. Levels of dopamine — the feel-good chemical — are increased while listening to moving music. Musical pleasure and dopamine release are linked.

As singers share their gift of song, they may join me in asking, “What Would I Do Without My Music?” Whether singer, performer or listener, each of us can experience the life-affirming benefits of singing. 

Shirley Mercier

Shirley Mercier received her Masters from UW-Madison as an Adult Nurse Practitioner. Most recently retired from her nursing position in Cardiac Rehab, she now has time for her newest hobby with the Fox Valley Chorus of Sweet Adelines International. As Marketing Chair, she is passionate about inviting women to learn about and enjoy the benefits of singing.

To learn more about the Fox Valley Chorus, contact Terrie at 920-740-6551 or email [email protected] Visit our website:

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