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Singing in choirs is more popular than ever right now. Performing in a group has really grown in popularity across all age ranges in recent years, partly down to the huge popularity of modern a cappella groups like Pentatonix alongside steady growth of local choir numbers through a heightened public awareness by the likes of Gareth Malone. Why are so many people and organisations championing choral singing? I believe that performing in a group can develop, improve, and enhance so much more than your musical expertise- it has the capacity to improve your whole wellbeing.
The feeling of belonging to a cohesive social group and the "feel-good" factor whilst singing has proven to be beneficial not only on a musical level, but on a personal one too. Indeed, studies have suggested that performing in a choir helps to lower stress levels and blood pressure, develop cardiovascular fitness through lung function, and even improve symptoms of depression.
Aside from specific health improvements, there is certainly a level of 'team spirit' needed when in a choir too- similar to playing a sport, one feels responsible for the final product, whether it be a successful concert or match. Delivering your absolute best for the good of the unit is important for progression. As a singer, you want to perform well for yourself but also for the choir you're with. Accessing an emotion of a piece and acting through the song as one unit is a powerful tool, strengthening the feeling of togetherness.
From children through to adults, ensemble singing can help to improve focus across the board. Children in choirs are more likely to have improved concentration in other curriculum subjects (particularly reading ability) due to the discipline needed to engage in a rehearsal. With adults, organisations like Music in Offices takes conductors into businesses to form choirs which, in turn, heightens job happiness for employees, and improves productivity. For both children and adults alike, this communal singing can help to increase listening function, teaching the art of really focussing your ears to not only your voice but others too.
Anyone interested in joining a choir, go for it! Join the other 3 million Brits currently enjoying it. Whatever your age, whether you're a fan of singing in the shower, at the cat or along to the radio, there are plenty of musical and personal benefits to be had from choral singing. Oh, and it's really fun too!