It is scientifically proven that singing has a multitude of positive effects on our mental health and physical wellbeing. In our recently published white paper, Virtual Voices, we delved into the multitude of health benefits to singing and karaoke, speaking to a number of experts and surveying 1,000 people from around the world (UK, US, Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia) to find out how singing impacts their health.
A 2017 peer review published by the Royal Society for Public Health conducted a systematic review of wellbeing outcomes for music and singing in adults and found that there is reliable evidence for positive association between music and improved depression. Singing has been proven to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisol, whilst facilitating the release of endorphins, the ‘feel good’ neurochemicals associated with feelings of pleasure, oxytocin, a hormone which alleviates anxiety. Singing releases more positive neurochemicals such as β-endorphin, dopamine and serotonin which elevate the mood.
Over three quarters of respondents (76%) would prefer to sing to boost their mood than workout to get the endorphins pumping, a figure which increases to 82% (+6) for Gen Z who are the least likely to want to get their gym kit on.
With increased mental benefits come a host of physical benefits. As well as boosting a healthy immune system, singing enhances physical health through improvements to breathing capacity, muscle tension and posture and the reduction of respiratory systems.
Singing has the ability to quickly and efficiently fulfill one of our greatest but most basic human desires: to feel a collective bond, to be connected to others, or to be ‘in group’. Singing has also been said to fulfil essential evolutionary needs like finding a mate. In the animal kingdom, the ability to sing shows virility: there is a reputational benefit to singing well. Singing also operates as a way of reconnecting people who have been apart, with shared memories of songs or rituals.
“Human social groups are much bigger than the groups in other species, so we need some kind of behaviour that will be more efficient in creating social bonds. These behaviours are done in synchrony with other people. They involve some kind of muscular exertion, and this is what releases these B2 endorphins to create the social bonds.” Dr Eiluned Pearce
Humans have long used performance as a way of experimenting with identity. We live in an increasingly connected world in which we are witnessing the rise of a new ambicultural generation, able to move seamlessly between cultural divides. Social media has given rise to an ‘always on’ performative culture where we are at all times performing our identity. Karaoke gives us the chance to experiment with identities that aren’t our own in a safe space.
“People don’t always perform their own identities, sometimes they try on other identities for size as a way to explore other ways of being in the world.” Kevin Brown