Group Singing Encourages Children to be more Calm, Confident & Creative.

Group Singing Encourages Children to be more Calm, Confident & Creative.

Written by James Sills
Group Singing Encourages Children to be more Calm, Confident & Creative.

When our children are born, we sing with them all the time: to soothe, to entertain, to energise, to tell stories. It encourages bonding: with parents, siblings, family and friends. In fact, it would be hard to imagine the early years of a child’s life without any singing.

However, as children progress through primary school, there is often a shift away from the process of singing to the final product, (such as performances and competitions). By the teenage years, children often self-identify as ‘singer’ or ‘non-singer’. Paired with the belief that singing is about innate talent. This is reinforced by TV programmes such as X Factor, which present singing as something you either ‘can’ or ‘can’t’ do.  

I refer here to the African proverb: ‘if you can walk, you can dance; if you can talk you can sing.’ This has guided my work as a vocal leader over the last fifteen years, running open-access choirs in schools, workplaces and community settings.

What emerges from all of these groups is how singing with others makes us feels good. There is a huge amount of research that demonstrates how it benefits us. In terms of building community and improving wellbeing.  And so, if we stop obsessing about ‘talent’. Here’s how group singing can make your child feel more calm, confident and creative.

Calm

Singing is an aerobic activity that requires careful control of the breath, especially when singing long musical phrases. Controlled breathing is often used in mindfulness and meditation to help calm the mind. Singing will do this without your child even realising!

There are many things to focus on when singing, such as listening to the other voices and watching the conductor. This multiple focus means that singing encourages children to be fully present and free from other distractions. Singing encourages good posture, relaxing the shoulders and neck, reducing muscular tension.

Studies demonstrate how group singing can help lower levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in the blood. There is also something very cathartic about singing. Which may help release built-up emotions in a safe environment. 

Confident

Singing encourages children to stand taller, literally and figuratively. When we sing with other people, we feel closely bonded to them and this is supported by lots of studies. This sense of belonging is a fundamental human need. It accounts for the ever-increasing popularity of adult community choirs at a time when loneliness is on the increase.  

There is a real sense of achievement when singing in a group. From learning a new song, to adding a new harmony, or doing a performance. When this happens, our brains release dopamine, our bodies natural ‘reward’ hormone. All of this will help children feel more confident. Not just in their own singing ability but also in other areas of their life.

Indeed, I have worked with many young people over the years who may have initially appeared quite shy. However they have gained a huge amount of self-confidence through singing and performing in a choir.

Creative

Once children start to see themselves as a singer, they feel empowered. There is a shift from being a passive consumer to becoming an active participant. This may then translate to other areas of their life. Such as encouraging pursuits like art, craft or writing. Where they are ‘doing’ rather than observing.

In my experience, those children who sing regularly often develop an interest in learning a musical instrument. Either to accompany their singing (such as piano, guitar or ukulele) or something for its own sake. I can think of many young people I’ve worked with over the years who have progressed from singing in a choir, to learning an instrument to writing/recording their own songs.

This love of music-making often lasts a lifetime: singing is for life, not just for Christmas!

So, how can we best support this as parents, carers and family members? 
  • Continue to sing with your children around the house, in the car, wherever! Make it part of everyday life and make it fun. 
  • Do encourage – and don’t force – your child to take part in singing activities both inside and outside of school. Find something that is relevant for their age and will motivate them. 
  • Above all, don’t ever, ever be negative or condescending about their singing voice. Just one negative comment at this age (such as ‘you’re tone deaf’ or ‘you sound like a screeching cat’,) can be very damaging and last a lifetime. I know this, because many older people who come to my workshops or choirs experienced this and stopped singing for decades. 

Let’s not pass on our own insecurities about singing to our children. Encourage them to engage in group singing to live happier, healthier and more fulfilling lives. 


James Sills is a musician, vocal leader, writer and speaker who is passionate about bringing people together to sing. He leads singing at events and gatherings around the world: from choirs to conferences, from workshops to workplaces, from festivals to football stadiums. He believes that singing together is a fundamental part of being human, fostering community, creativity and wellbeing. His first book, ‘Do Sing: Reclaim Your Voice. Find Your Singing Tribe’ was published in September 2019 by the Do Book Company. Find about more about James at his website www.jamessillsmusic.co.uk

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