by Bec Cavalôt

How singing can harmonise your son’s wellbeing

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Do you remember when your son sang everywhere? In the bath. In the car. In the library. In the background when you were on a ‘working-from-home’ call to your manager. In his cot (while you sobbed, sleep-deprived outside his door).

But as boys get older, the singing slows up a bit. Self-confidence ebbs away and self-consciousness means your son’s voice seldom gets heard.

You might not think so when your 3-year-old won’t stop his tuneless warbling of The Wiggles’ classic Fruit Salad (yummy, yummy), but it’s a shame that boys stop singing.

Singing exercises major muscle groups and increases oxygenated blood flow. Psychologically, singing allows your son to express himself and release a range of emotions. Singing in public also helps him build confidence.

But before you sign your son up for The Voice, maybe consider the local choir or musical theatre club instead. Research shows that, be it a choir or a boy band, singing is even more stress-busting and spirit-lifting when boys sing in a group.

Here’s how group singing can help your son thrive:

  1. It boosts his immune function and reduces stress

Research shows that participation in group singing enhances immune system functioning and reduces stress.

Studies have shown that cortisol (a measure of stress) reduces after group singing rehearsals, and immunoglobulin A – an endocrine defence against infection in the upper respiratory tract – significantly increases.

  1. It elevates his sense of wellbeing

Group-created music can create an uplifting sense of wellbeing and harmony – when the music is taken away, we literally deflate.

In the late 1960s, Dr Alfred Tomatis investigated a strange malaise that had descended upon a Benedictine monastery in France. Tomatis believed the monks’ grumpiness was a result of eliminating several hours of Gregorian chant from their daily routine. Tomatis reinstated the chanting and the monks were back to their healthy jolly selves within six months. Tomatis concluded that the chanting helped elevate the monks’ mood and regulate their breathing, inducing a state of relaxation – almost like a group meditation.

  1. It increases his social connectedness

Group singing is a great bonding experience, trumping other group activities such as craft, creative writing… even sport.

A 2015 study by the UK’s University of Oxford found that group singing bonded groups more quickly than other group activities (such as creative writing or craft). Group singing had ‘the ice-breaker effect’: individuals immediately felt closer to the group as a whole and were more likely to feel positively towards everyone present. A 2016 UK study of choral singers backs this up, finding that choral singers considered their choirs to be a more coherent or ‘meaningful’ social group than team sport players considered their sport teams.

Group singing is a great bonding experience, trumping other group activities… even sport.

  1. It decreases feelings of depression and loneliness

 Singing makes you feel happier, reducing feelings of anxiety, depression, and even loneliness.

Singing releases endorphins, which are associated with feelings of pleasure, and oxytocin, which can alleviate anxiety and stress. Oxytocin also enhances feelings of trust and bonding, which explains why some studies have found that singing reduces feelings of depression and loneliness. A 2013 study even makes the case that “music evolved as a tool of social living,” and that the pleasure that comes from singing together is our evolutionary reward for coming together cooperatively, rather than hiding alone, every cave-dweller for himself.

  1. It can contribute to academic success

 Apparently, group singing can even make your son smarter…

In 2009, a US study found that children who participated in a chorus achieved significantly better grades than those who had never sung in a choir: 45% of children who sang received “all or mostly As” in mathematics (compared with 38% of non-choir kids), and 54% received “all or mostly As” in English and other language arts classes (compared with 43%).  

  1. And he doesn’t even have to be any good!

 Has your son got zero vocal talent? No worries! As it turns out, you don’t have to be a good singer to reap the rewards of group singing.  

According to a UK study undertaken in 2005, group singing “can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.” Good news for all us with sons who aren’t exactly pitch perfect.

So whether you have a budding Backstreet Boy, a chanting sports supporter, or a shower-only warbler, encourage your son to sing loud, proud and, most importantly with others. He may not win The Voice but his health and wellbeing will be in harmony. And that’s worth way more than 15 minutes of fame.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School

Bibliography

Bec Cavalôt is a Melbourne-based writer and editor, and mum of two boisterous boys. This article is about

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