There was a time when everyone used to sing. We sat around campfires, at church and at school. We sang our stories and our dreams. We sang alone and we sang together.
Can't sing? Won't sing? Told not to sing? Like me, about 85 percent of people have been told by their parents, children, partners or teachers that they can't sing… so they don't. We worry that people will think we are strange or that we will be judged and not as good as the celebrities we idolise. There is a taboo about singing or even speaking in public.
We have such a fear of failure and it makes us vulnerable to being judged. Yet we all have a voice to share with the world. Our voices have been silenced and it's not doing us any good.
When I was 14 I desperately wanted to have singing lessons. One night after school I went to her place and asked her to teach me one of the songs she had learnt at her lessons. After a while, I sang it to her and she accompanied me on piano. She told me that I should never bother having singing lessons as I was not good enough.
I believed her (just like many of us believed it when we were told we couldn't sing), but finally in Year 11 I got up the courage to audition for the chorus of the school musical, Oklahoma. To my surprise, I got the lead role! Singing has been the greatest joy, passion and sustenance to me ever since.
Ten reasons to make singing your drug of choice:
- Release endorphins and increases levels of oxytocin
- Improve posture, breathing and blood-flow
- Save money: our voice is our free human instrument
- Create new neural pathways and improve brain meta-plasticity
- Ward off age-related decline by continuously 'exercising' your brain
- Heal depression, strokes and speech abnormalities
- Promote social bonding and cohesion; and rediscover your own identity
- Relieve mental health issues; feel happier, better connected and supported
- Connect with other diverse voices and your community
- Be smarter, healthier, happier and more creative
Sing From The Heart, Spark Your Brain
Singing has so many great benefits for our brains, our psychological function, our thinking and learning skills and our social functions. One of the many great advantages of singing is that it connects us to our right brain and then to all of our brain which benefits our thinking.
The right hemisphere of our brain is in charge of our imagination, intuition and all of our creative functions. Our right brain enables possibilities and connects us to everything that is. The brain is like a battery - the right side charges it and the left side uses the energy and empties it. Our goal is to always keep our mental battery charged. But what really happens is we're overloaded with too much information…too much analysis, so we spend 85% of the time using our left brain. We're literally draining our batteries.
The best way to change the balance and recharge our mental battery is to use the right brain more. And the most awesome activity for doing that is singing. The University of Melbourne's Professor Sarah Wilson, one of the leading researchers on the neuro-scientific benefits of music, said that "Music is to mental health what sport is to physical health." I would agree that participation in music and singing is critical to mental health and also important for physical health.
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