Choir singing is mental hygiene because it improves the mental health. According to the scientists the oxygenation of the body increases, the muscles are stimulated and the endorphins and dopamine are released. The choir singer will get energy as well, feel more engaged and reduce stress. It is said to be a booster for “inter personal processes”. (Batt-Rawden, 2010).
A choir singer can´t sing as he or she is the soloist, because each voices have to blend in to each other. The choir are supposed to sing with one voice even when it´s not unison. Every choirs need an income, and the members have to contribute in some way. Because the choir need money to pay the conductor and to buy original music sheets.
Choir singing, yoga and mindfulness
I compare choir singing with yoga and mindfulness because they all got some similarities. You got to focus on your breath, the tongue- and body position, and were you actually place the tone.
As in yoga there are some hard positions. For a choir singer it may be the position of the tongue, because the tip should lay almost glued to the back of the lower teeth. That is a “position” I find difficult. When you are warming up the voice, you are at the same time trying to release stress and tensions in your muscles. These tensions can have a huge impact on your performance as a singer.
When it comes to body position it is important to wear some comfortable clothes and shoes. Personally I like to wear shoes with a small heel so I don´t tilt backwards. I also try not to sing in jeans, because the give to much tension to my belly.
It is very interesting how your mindset can contribute to a quality tone or not, so positive self talk is actually of importance as a choir singer too. https://wp.me/pb4jAC-3d
Some scientists say that singing in a choir may have a huge impact on the mental health in people, whether they got a psychological disease or not. (Clift & Hancox, 2010; Judd & Pooley, 2014). So if you struggle with depression or anxiety it may help to sing in a choir, or at least sing? And If you are not having any psychological problems it may prevent you from getting any? A Norwegian study shows that singing in a choir may give you an increased feeling of wellness and it does not matter what choir you sing in, level or the choir members background (Balsnes, 2009).
A conductor´s impact
I have been singing in a female choir as a 2.alto for many years, and my conductor for 12 years has been Kristin Kostopoulos. She was a professional opera singer, vocal coach and most of all she had ambitions for my choir. Her ambitions for the choir inspired the choir members to work harder and practice at home.
As a 2.alto I guess I would be miming when we did Sour Angelica of Puccini if it was not for her.
Kristin used to say that you had to place the tone up to the front teeth/ nose, and sing to the back of the room. She taught us to sing with an inner smile to lift the tone, and make it lighter. I have really experienced how the inner smile can make the difference of being in pitch or not. Kristin is conducting the choir in the you tube video I share with you below. Sadly Kristin passed away in 2016.
Is choir singing always healthy?
To be an amateur choir singer is pretty much voluntary, and like everything else you do in life, you can become tired of it. The choir is depending on you and because of this it may be hard to quit. For a period of time I did not get any energy of singing in the choir or felt any inspiration. So I ended up with no concentration, forgetting the text and so on. Well, I decided then to have a longer break to recover.
Now I am back and I really feel all the positive effects the scientists talk about. My energy levels have increased and it was really funny to be back. I am even singing at work again. After a rehearsal I am always feeling so relaxed and tired, but still full of energy. My head is full of music and text lines, and that can be a bit challenging when I am going to bed. So my conclusion is, that under the right circumstances choir singing is mental hygiene.