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When our children are born, we sing with them all the time: to soothe, to entertain, to
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
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
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.
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
There are many things to focus on when singing, such as listening to the other voices and watching the conductor. This multiple
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. W
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.
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!
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