Voices of Birralee’s choristers have chosen to sing with us for a number of reasons. Some are looking for a creative outlet, others are keen to increase their musicality through working with our tutors, and there are those who desire the opportunity to have fun, while sharing an activity with like-minded people.
We thought this blog would explore ‘why we sing’ and the ‘benefits of singing’.
We asked our choristers for their opinions.
“I love the mental challenge that reading and learning new music provides. Plus, doing it with an awesome group of young people makes it fun!” Kerry Marnane, Resonance of Birralee.
“Singing is my creative outlet and always makes me happy. I’ve made some amazing friends and have been able to experience things I never thought I would. I love being part of the Birralee family and singing alongside so many talented people being able to make the music we do.” Belinda Chappell, Resonance of Birralee.
“Singing is pretty fantastic for my mental health. Every Tuesday night I come away from Resonance feeling much more relaxed and refreshed than when I went in.” Charlotte Greener, Resonance of Birralee.
We then asked some of our conductors for their thoughts, beginning with our Artistic Director and Founder, Julie Christiansen OAM. For Julie, singing is about community, and proof of this is how she has built Voices of Birralee over the past 20 years! She also sees singing and particularly singing in a choir, good for youth development.
“We live by the philosophy that every child has a song in their heart and singing is as important and natural for a child to do as walking, talking and dancing. It’s a fantastic way for children to grow socially, cognitively, musically and culturally and doing this in a choir is a great chance for both children and young adults to build their self confidence and do what they might not necessary feel comfortable doing alone.”
Paul Holley, Voices of Birralee’s Associate Director , Conductor of Resonance of Birralee and the Birralee Blokes agreed, while noting how singing was a way for people to express themselves.
“The reasons for singing are many and varied but I would say that the outcomes are very positive for those who love doing it. Carrying out something you are passionate about usually enthuses, energises and invigorates you.
“I have worked with many choristers who describe singing, particularly in a choir, as their therapy, a time to switch off from life’s hassles and escape into their happy world of music making. Many choristers also speak of the vehicle singing gives them to express themselves and for many younger singers it is a valuable tool in improving their sense of self and self expression.
“The benefits also include a sense of belonging to a team and making a contribution to something that when joined with the contributions of others ends in a result greater than the sum of the individual parts. I also love seeing the mix of people whose love for singing brings them together and sees them work together with others might not otherwise associate with to create amazing music.
“For our Birralee choristers, singing in choir has also presented them with opportunities to travel extensively within our country and internationally as well as perform in wonderful venues with world class ensembles and musicians.
“As Ella Fitzgerald said, ‘The only thing better than singing is more singing,’ so sing on!”
Brisbane Birralee Voices Assistant Conductor Jenny Moon says the benefits of singing can be explained by “CHORAL” – Community, Health, Opportunity, Resilience, Appreciation, Love for music:
“Singing in a choir is an amazing experience. It builds and strengthens communities, bringing like-minded people together who are unified in their desire to make music. The physical and physiological benefits of singing are well-documented. Research tells us that singing reduces stress by lowering the heart rate and encouraging the release of mood-enhancing endorphins in the brain (surely that has to be healthy?)
“The opportunities to explore, different cultures, traditions, history and theology through the music we sing broadens our children’s understanding of the world and working together in a variety of situations such as in performances, on tour and in rehearsals, builds resilience.
“Choristers learn to appreciate other’s strengths, talents, weaknesses and differences, but more than anything they learn to develop a lifelong love for music, which they share with those around them.”
Claire Preston who teaches our younger training choirs, Saturday’s Birralee Piccolos and Wednesday and Saturday’s Birralee Kids, sees the benefits first hand with the enjoyment her young choristers feel at rehearsals.
“Singing is wonderful because you don’t need to buy an instrument; we all have a voice, which is unique. A child who sings is a happy child. We share our heritage and tell stories through songs. Singing improves children’s language acquisition and memory and they can be musically expressive through singing. Children can develop artistry at a young age through involvement in choirs. They develop self-confidence through performance opportunities and team co-operation. Unlike sport, there are never any losers in choir – only winners!”
We’re not the only ones who think singing is so beneficial! Researchers the world over are producing many findings.
Creativity Australia notes that “singing is proven to make us happier, healthier, smarter and more creative”, plus the benefits of community singing allows groups to bond more quickly and easily than other activities. The report also notes singing as an excellent ice breaker when people meet others for the first time. Read more here.
For young ones (not old enough for Birralee!), it has been proven that they benefit from informal music, with The Conversation.com, talking about music making in the home:
“In an analysis of data generated from a study involving more than 3,000 children, a University of Queensland team investigated the associations between informal home music education for very young children and later cognitive and social-emotional outcomes.
“The team found that informal music-making in the home from around the ages of two and three can lead to better literacy, numeracy, social skills, and attention and emotion regulation by the age of five.” Read more here.
(If you have young children, you can find inspiration through friend of Birralee, Boppin’ Babies, pioneers in music to enhance development in babies and toddlers.)
So whether you sing with Birralee, sing with another choral organisation, or even sing with siblings while doing dishes in the family home, you are setting yourself up for an extremely enriched life full of music!
How have you benefited from singing? Leave us a comment or email firstname.lastname@example.org.