Singing for mental health: why song is great for the brain

Is this you? Photography: Thinkstock Images
Is this you? Photography: Thinkstock Images

Singing feels good for you because it really is

Anyone who's sung away the hours of a road trip, blasted out their favourite song into a hairbrush, or sobbed along to Coldplay's "Fix You" knows that music is more than cheesy stanzas and a catchy hook: it has the power to move you and truly affect your emotional well-being. And whether it's tragic 90s hits, Iggy Azalea or classical tunes pumping through your iTunes, science proves it's doing something good to the grey matter.

Opera singer, Tania de Jong AM, is so passionate about singing, she's founded a charity, Creativity Australia, based on its physiological, social, cultural and economic benefits. She's even given this Ted X talk on how singing together changes the brain.

"Neuroscience proves that music – particularly singing – makes us happier, healthier, smarter and more creative. When we sing, we create new neural pathways and release oxytocin, the hormone responsible for love and bonding. Singing also fires up the right temporal lobe of the brain and releases endorphins, “feel good” chemicals that trigger fun, enjoyment, love, bonding, happiness and relaxation."

"We spend about 85% of our time in the left side of our brain – which deals with logic and analytics - which drains our mental battery. The right side of our brains – which focus on intuition, emotion, creativity and fantasy - needs to be recharged, and singing together with others is a very effective way of doing this."

Based on this, the charity's With One Voice program runs a network of 15 community choirs in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland. The choirs unite people aged 9 to 90, from all faiths and all walks of life: migrants, people with disabilities, job seekers, executives, seniors, students, refugees, asylum seekers and more.

"Singing with others might simply help you de-stress after a long day at work, or it might help someone find hope and community after a long struggle with their mental health, loneliness or isolation," she says.

To encourage people to sing and to raise money for the With One Voice program, Sing for Spring launches today. All you have to do is grab some friends, sing a song, video it and submit online for a chance to win a number of categories (from Best Shower Singers to Best Karaoke Song) and have your video shown on the big screen at Melbourne's Federation Square on October 4. It could even feature at the With One BIG Voice Concert at Melbourne Town Hall, 12 October. Find out more at Sing for Spring.


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