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The Benefits of Singing
By: Music Teacher Chelsea Dorner
Singing has been a central part of my life from as early as I can remember. I remember family vacations with long car rides that included mix-tapes so familiar and played out that I knew exactly what was next. I remember learning new songs at camp and school and wanting to share them with my siblings, singing them on the way home or when I was alone. My musical memories include being part of singing ensembles that engaged every part of my emotional being. It is partly because of these positive personal experiences that I ended up as a music teacher — my main goal to share joy of singing with others in a welcoming environment.
Research shows that singing in a group has especially great benefits. It involves being a part of a community, a group with a common goal. It does not necessarily require direct interaction but something is certainly shared. Singing in a group takes something incredibly intimate, a sound that begins inside you, and shares it with a roomful of people so that it comes back as something more. This something more has never been experienced until that moment, like a significant conversation that ends in an epiphany.
Singing provides the perfect combination of stress relief and motivation. It can allow us to express what words can’t when we need it to. It can energize us when we are in preparation, in a funk or just wanting to be silly. It is no surprise that the endorphin hormone is released when we sing, which is why we feel joy when we sing (or even when we hear others sing). Oxytocin, which has been found to alleviate anxiety and stress, is also present when singing.
The good news is that you don’t have to be a good singer to reap the benefits from singing. I always tell my students, “you don’t have to be a superstar, you just have to enjoy singing!” It is so disappointing to me when I hear horror stories from adults about their singing experiences — teachers making them sing alone, telling them they can’t sing, or even worse, excluding them from musical opportunities. Singing is communication. It gives us a chance to be vulnerable and a chance to step out of our comfort zone.
As parents, we can encourage singing with our children whenever it is appropriate. It creates a familial bond, can reinforce routine, share culture and traditions and, most of all, bring joy. Sing in the car, outside, during play. Sing directions, sing your favorite song, sing a lullaby. Sing to be silly, sing when you’re sad. Encourage your child to be a part of a singing group (but don’t force them). Share about times when you have enjoyed singing. Singing is free, your instrument is always with you, and doing it together makes it even better!