4 Ways Choir Singing Improves Your Brain
Choir singing does much more than train your voice — it boosts your brain functioning, too!
Anyone who has spent time in a choir knows that singing brings with it a wide range of benefits. It does wonderful things for your breathing and social calendar, and it introduces you to a wonderful variety of music.
Yet one of its most important benefits is also one of the least talked about: choir singing improves your mental faculties.
Yes, believe it or not, singing in groups is a great way to sharpen the brain and keep it sharp, even well into your golden years.
While these benefits certainly add an interesting angle for choir recruitment, going through why it’s good for your brain can help all of us appreciate the art form more.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of the main four ways that choir singing improves your brain.
Choral Singing Improves Verbal Skills
We usually think of singing as one thing and talking as another. But when researchers studied the effects of choir singing on the cognitive abilities of older adults, they found a major improvement in verbal flexibility.
What does this mean?
Participants took a test where they were asked to list as many words as possible that start with the letter S within a 60 second time limit. The number they could produce went up when they sang in choirs.
So there is something about singing in groups that helps the brain come up with words quickly. Verbal flexibility can also be used to see how mentally quick people are in general, and so singing could be making you a faster thinker overall.
Better Information Processing
One of the main reasons that scientists believe playing an instrument can help the brain is by increasing the amount of information processed at any given time. Singing in choirs, it turns out, likely has the same benefit.
Any choral singers reading this know that there is plenty of information to process when you are on stage, especially if they’ve been through the ringer of a choir festival. When you start listing out everything you have to pay attention to at the same time, it really makes you surprised you can do it at all. You need to think about the music, the direction you are being given, the manipulation of your voice, and the voices of those around you.
During a performance, you have to do all of this while also taking in the excitement of the moment.
We keep our mental faculties sharper the more we put our brains through these periods of high information processing. That can give us the edge when we are heading up the risers, but also when we are carrying out all kinds of tasks in our day-to-day lives.
Singing in a Choir Prevents Brain Fog
Singing in a choir can have a strong benefit to mental health. A lot of that comes from the fact that singing releases dopamine, endorphins, and oxytocin. Singing in choirs brings you in contact with many people and builds a community. These two effects can really keep your mood high, and in the long run, that means it could reduce brain fog in many people.
Brain fog is essentially difficulty concentrating and recalling things. When you feel “out of it” or just “slow,” you’re experiencing brain fog.
There are a wide range of causes for brain fog, but mood-boosting chemicals and social interaction are great ways to reduce it. While this won’t necessarily work for all kinds of brain fog (like the kind caused by sleep deprivation), it will benefit many people suffering from these symptoms.
Singing Protects the Brain Long Term
Recent research has shown that trained vocalists have more connectivity between many parts of the brain. Apparently, vocal training also continues to keep that connectivity strong and fresh.
What does that mean for you?
It could potentially mean that the brain will regain and retain its youthful vigor when you become a chorister. That’s a major boon for people of all ages — as there is never a bad time to protect and improve your brain’s functioning.
The fact that continuing to sing means that your brain refreshes its connectivity is really important here. Every time you go to choir practice, you are also keeping your brain well maintained.
The Many Benefits of Singing
The more scientists study the connection between the mind and singing, the more they discover it is an important part of staying healthy.
Are you curious about these brain boosting benefits? Consider joining a local choir. There are many groups around the world looking to recruit right now at every level — from beginners to seasoned pros.
If you already sing, maybe it’s time to commit even more to this artform. Then, who knows? Maybe we will see you at the next World Choir Games!