If you were to design the perfect New Year’s resolution, the resolution that rolled all of our usual ambitions — to exercise more, to socialize more, to be more — into one comprehensive, yet compact plan, then you’d probably come up with something like this: Sing more, with more people.
Or to put it another way: Join a chorus.
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Since our GroupWorks community boasts dozens and dozens of choruses, choirs and singing groups, and because, per the latest data from Chorus America, more than 42 million men, women and children participate in choruses throughout the United States, then maybe the resolution should actually be to join anotherchorus.
See, group singing isn’t just good for you, it’s really good for you.
Says Patty Cobb Baker, international board president of the 23,000-member Sweet Adelines International, “It helped me find who I was, who I am as a person.”
Here’s why group singing should be at the top of your resolution list:
1. You want exercise? You’ll get exercise.
The scientifically proven health benefits of musical activities are almost too many to casually list, but here are a few: Music keeps your brain humming; group singing helps improve your mental and physical well-being; and, choral participation boosts your immune system.
Liza Beth, vice president of communications and membership for Chorus America, an advocacy and research organization dedicated to choral singing, says one of her favorite studies shows that “when people start singing together their hearts start beating at the same time.” (It’s true — look it up!)
“I think the idea of doing something with people that creates something that’s bigger than the sum of its part is a really powerful thing,” Beth says.
Group singing can also be a plain and simple workout.
In show choirs and harmonizing singing groups like those aligned with Sweet Adelines, choreography is part of the deal.
“You have to memorize all of [the moves]. You have to keep your body flexible, you have to keep your body in shape,” says Baker, a 35-year member of Sweet Adelines. “We call ourselves athletes because you have to learn to coordinate muscle systems.”
2. You want personal growth? You’ll get personal growth.
Though Baker says she’s considered herself a singer all her life, she didn’t really find her passion until a work colleague at NASA, where she was a business analyst, suggested she join a four-part harmony group. Her first meeting at a Sweet Adelines chapter was a revelation.
“There was an immediate feeling of family and fun,” Baker says.
Baker says the fact that Sweet Adelines is a women’s organization was especially appealing — and enriching.
“I came in shy, and now I’m designing choreography.” Baker says. “You learn through the organization an incredible amount of leadership ability and skills.”
3. You want connection? You’ll get connection.
“It’s a great way to make friends,” says Beth. “There’s research that shows people who are part of a chorus feel part of a new community.”
Indeed, one of the more recent studies to touch on that subject noted that under-privileged children involved in a music program benefited socially and emotionally through being linked to “a sense of collective and shared purpose.”
Says Beth: “There’s a social health aspect to being part of a group that’s about creating something beautiful together.”
Baker says the sisterhood offered by groups such as Sweet Adelines is a powerful thing. “I recently lost by husband to cancer,” she says. “The singing community was invaluable to getting through it all,”
4. You want fun? You’ll get fun. And then some.
Baker says she enjoyed her first Sweet Adelines experience because “the people were so nice”; she came back, time and again, she says, “because it was fun.”
“It was just fun to be hanging out with the girls,” Baker says, “and learning this style of music.”