Friday, February 13, 2009


There are a number of reasons why singing (out loud!) can be beneficial for mood:

1) the parts of the brain, as well as the facial and pharyngeal muscles, involved in singing, are similar to those most active in positive mood states. This may seem a trite or ridiculous association, but it is supported by evidence, namely that voluntary actions associated with happiness, even if unconsciously initiated, lead to more positive mood. Here's a link to the abstract of a classic, amusing, 1988 paper by Fritz Strack, published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (another great journal that I recommend following), demonstrating that changing the position of facial muscles leads to a change in emotional response:

2) singing is active, yet relaxing; potentially social, yet individual; creative, yet structured

3) Fellow singers--if singing is done in a group--are likely themselves to be emotionally positive and encouraging, leading to a positive social environment.

Here's a link to an abstract demonstrating that choir singing leads to improved mood and reduced stress hormone levels:

Of note, actively singing music -- not merely listening to music -- was required to produce a beneficial effect.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had my weekly singing lesson yesterday. Every week I dread going and every week, when I get to my lesson, and begin singing I feel a lift in my mood and a load lifted off my shoulders. (not sure why I can remember the joy, but still dread the task each week)

I often find myself singing out loud as I walk my dog through my neighbourhood after my lesson; completely unselfconscious that others might hear me.

Right now my depression is so powerful that the effects of singing lasted only a couple hours, but that was a welcomed 2 hour reprieve in an awful day.

This morning I woke with a clearer mind than yesterday and I thought..."what if I were to practice my singing out loud for an hour everyday, just like in my lesson? Would I have a two hour reprieve from this awful illness everyday I practiced?

It's worth a try.