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How Singing Changes Your Brain

Last Updated: March 06, 2021 / by Brian Collins

Singing and music have the amazing ability to cheer us up. Whether you are singing along to your favorite songs at a concert or just rocking it out in the shower, singing is an art form that's more than just a way of entertainment. Across the world, across all cultures, religions, and ethnic groups, singing has been a significant feature of human behavior throughout time. No matter whether you think you're good at it or not, when there is singing, you react and connect to it.

Scientists have been fascinated by the physical, social, and psychological effects singing has on the brain for many year, and numerous studies have conclusively proven the connection between our brain and the reaction it has towards singing. So, let’s have a ook at what actually happens when you start to sing:

A Natural Anti-Depressant

Science has always been hard at work trying to understand why singing has this amazing calming effect on people while at the same time keeping their spirits high.

Several researchers found that singing sparks the release of oxytocin – a hormone that generates feelings of connection and trust. We experience an act of togetherness, which improves our well-being.

This explains why different studies confirm that singing reduces the feelings of loneliness and depression. It might also explain why some people revert to singing when they become nervous or stressed. 

It’s also possible to understand why music has evolved as a tool of social living. As we connect with other people through singing, we feel that we belong; we aren’t alone. At that moment our brain responds by releasing endorphins, which we associate with happiness. Singing is, without a doubt, a natural pain killer and anti-depressant.

Improves Creativity and Mental Alertness

According to Aniruddh D. Patel, music has proved itself as a “way to access regions of the brain and reawaken autobiographical memory when language won’t". It’s no wonder that the power of singing plays such a powerful part in the functioning of the brain.

Different studies have shown that singers had better connections between the different areas of the brain, which results in better communication between the left and right hemispheres. This development lets you use your brain in a greater capacity than before. In other words, singing improves your creativity and logic, making problem-solving easier.

Research in regards to dementia and Alzheimer’s disease has also shown that musical memory is retained. This is great because we associate songs with different relationships and events throughout our lives. Therefore, it’s possible that your musical memory can be linked with other memories; improving your memory overall.

The way that music stimulates your brain as a whole helps you to feel happier and motivated. As you focus on the song you’re singing, you calm the negative thoughts that are filling your head. For that moment, we forget about life’s issues and problems.

Boosts Your Confidence

Singing is a wonderful way to manage your stress. Like physical exercise, singing requires a level of focus that takes your mind off your usual thinking patterns and worries.

Learning a new song helps you to keep your brain active and fends off negative thoughts. This helps you maintain lower stress levels and handle situations with a positive attitude.

One study found that singers have lower levels of cortisol, which means they are experiencing less stress. These lower levels of stress help relieve feelings of anxiety while giving a boost your confidence. 

When you feel in control of your nerves, you believe in yourself more. Lower stress levels and your achievements will keep you motivated and improve your self-esteem. And who doesn’t like feeling good about themselves?

Broadens Communication Skills

Many times when we want to share an idea or a message with someone, we use a song. Movies also use it as a part of their storytelling. Directors use the music to guide our emotions; to either be happy or sad. So, music doesn’t only help us communicate better, but it’s also a form of communication on its own.

An important part of communication is listening, and music helps us to listen better. Most of us think we listen, but in fact, we are actually planning our responses ahead of time. 

Singing increases our attentive listening as we focus on listening to the words, melody, and pitch at the same time. Over time, all the levels of listening for information sharpens and you learn to expand your mind into the world of poetry and imagination. Being able to express your emotions in more than one way helps you to communicate better and also helps avoid misunderstandings.

According to research, singing doesn’t just improve your own language skills, but also the skills of the people listening. Music plays a similar role in improving your language to reading and writing because communication and expressing emotions go hand in hand.

If music didn’t have the ability to function as a way of communication, movies and concerts wouldn’t be as magical as it is. As people face difficult challenges or memorable milestones, they turn to singing as a way of bonding and expressing their feelings.

Increases Understanding and Empathy

With all these changes that are happening in our brain, it’s no wonder that singing expands our appreciation for the world around us. Learning to sing has the ability to release emotional blockages.  

Singing can make us cry and laugh. But most importantly, it lets you sink into your emotions and surrender yourself to that moment. In other words, music gives you the opportunity to free yourself from mental obstacles.

When we open ourselves to the idea of singing songs from other genres and cultures, we open ourselves to seeing the world with new eyes.

We become more aware of diversity and we connect in a way where we can see how other people experience life.

With all the benefits that music has, it’s clear why it's considered as the universal language of all mankind. Studies have concluded that singing has the same effect on people, regardless of their traditions, cultures, or identities. Music unites us and brings us great joy.

About the Author: Brian Collins

I am a classically trained singer who believes that every instrument requires maintenance - including the voice! I started my professional music studies at the age of 8 and competed in and won several local and state piano competitions. I graduated with honors and earned my Bachelor of Music Education in 2003, and since then I have studied with famous musicians and teachers around the world. I have also completed hundreds and hundreds of voice lessons, exploring various methods, and attended countless seminars on voice coaching for all ages.

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