A choir is the perfect outlet for exploring creativity and musicianship. Musical engagement leads to increased pro-social behaviours – that is, selfless actions that help other people. This would be supported by a shared emotional state, which relies on empathy of participants to spread.
But music is also at the centre of where we first learn to be sociable – in the mother-infant bond. Listening to a mother sing is mesmerising to babies, having immediate and profound impacts on their arousal and attention, including physical responses.
These innate, companionable musical communications are highly effective despite the lack of linguistic understanding by the infant. They are also universal; lullabies are recognisable as such in virtually every culture on Earth.
There are strong indications that group singing, music making and social behaviours are strongly linked. Music therapy has been shown to reliably improve social behaviours in individuals on the autism spectrum. Studies with children indicate that music engagement increases both empathy and pro-social behaviours. Taken together, the evidence points to a strong link between co-creation of music and improved social bonding. This is verified in surveys of choir members, who consistently report that social interaction is a primary benefit of participation. Participating in a choir not only made them feel more connected to each other, but also more connected to their audience and more confident in their social interactions generally.
It is well established that a positive mood state supports cognitive flexibility, while stress and anxiety act as inhibitors. Co-creating music may therefore support improved cognitive skills through both the emotional and social benefits of singing. Additionally music processing requires a complex interplay of many brain functions working in coordination, which assists more complex mental processing abilities.
If these theories of music’s benefits are correct, it gives us cause to consider our own use of music. Traditionally, in order to be heard, music had to be made publically and it was most often made in groups. It could be that in professionalizing music (ie leaving it up to those who make a living out of music) we are both diminishing our own wellbeing as well as our community life. Australia is currently seeing a surge in community choirs, which may indicate a reclaiming of our social musicality. It’s time to lay aside the excuse of “I can’t sing” and participate in this health giving activity, which is almost universally accessible and is proving to have so many layers of benefits.
MCCHOIR is launching our brand new EP on June 18 at our concert event "Time To Shine" held at Planet Shakers City Church, Lower Plenty from 7:30 PM. With a live band and pumping horn section to back up the choir and special guest artist Melody Crystal, you'll be blown away by how great a choir concert experience can be. Come and experience social musicality first hand and what it can be like to be part of this amazing group of "ordinary" people achieving something greater than themselves. You can get your tickets here for this exciting event:
Founder and Creative Director
Melbourne Contemporary Choir
Jason or (Jase) as he likes to be called is Founder & Creative Director of Melbourne Contemporary Choir (MCCHOIR) and is a passionate musician who wants to bring his love for music to a broader audience.
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