News, entertainment and sports from Langara College journalism students

When in doubt, belt it out

Singing can be a low cost, low barrier form of stress relief experts say

Jeannie Burns sings 'White Rabbit' by Jefferson Airplane at a karaoke competition on Vancouver Island in 2010. Photo: Jeannie Burns
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Reported by Natalia Buendia Calvillo

 

Experts say singing comes with health benefits because it’s a social activity that relieves stress, it’s fun and it improves brain health.

Music therapy is pure chemistry

According to music therapist Sheila Lee, “engaging with music that we enjoy releases oxytocin and dopamine, the ‘happy hormones’, and decreases cortisol levels, ‘the stress hormone’.” She says singing exercises our respiratory system, improves circulation and increases oxygen in the body.

Lee said singing has helped her clients with dementia remember past experiences and songs from their adolescence. “Using specific evidence-based singing techniques can help an injured brain develop new pathways and enable a person to relearn how to speak.”

A 2016 study by the Disability and Rehabilitation Journal showed singing helps Parkinson’s disease patients to regain and maintain speaking skills that are lost as the neurodegenerative disease progresses.

John Newell, Barbershop Quartet champion, has been passionate for singing since he was six years old. He said that on top of the stress-relieving breathing movements, singing in a group provides great social connections.

“Hearing human voices singing that brings the deepest emotions to the surfaces and does it in a way that just spoken words, sometimes they cannot do.”

Bridging language barriers

Newell says music is a universal language and even if singing is done in a different language it always portrays who that person is at an emotional level.

“If you breathe to sing, you breathe to live,” Newell said.

Jeannie Burns is a karaoke expert who competed at the Canadian National Karaoke Championship in 2012. She says she sings because it is fun, builds confidence and “because you don’t think about anything, just in the music.”

Burns says that regardless of how good or bad, everybody can sing anywhere. “I always sing along on the radio when the music is on,”

“Some people do it even though they know they are a jackass and they are terrible, but they still like it because it’s fun.”

“Other people like it because they feel like they are rockstars for like five minutes,” Burns said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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