In my first blog of the season, I spoke about the significance that CoroAllegro rehearsals hold for me - the ability to let go of daily stresses and just be, a member of a group focused on the shared goal of creating something beautiful together. This reflection prompted me to explore beyond my personal experiences with music to see if what I experienced was the norm.
Just looking at a few articles from the last year, it’s absolutely apparent that choral singing has benefits that go beyond a temporary sense of well-being. In one study from Psychology of Music, it was found that “choir singers had significantly lower levels of anxiety” after weekly recreational choral singing, and that the health benefits were both mental and physical. These benefits also extend to social benefits. “A single choir singing session improves mood and increases trust, cooperative behavior, and feelings of social closeness in the singers while reducing anxiety and other negative feelings,” according to the review of literature in a 2017 article in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience. An additional study in the European Journal of Cancer Care confirms these results: in studies on the effects of choir participation on patients recovering from cancer, researchers found that “choir participation improved vitality, overall mental health and anxiety.”
In the abstract of her chapter “Depression and Music: Approaching Health Equity Through Therapeutic Choir Singing,” Kirstin Robertson-Gillam makes a bold claim:
Group choirs are known for their ability to support members from a psychosocial perspective; engaging them in creative expression, increasing individual and group interactions, building friendships and decreasing social isolation. .. Furthermore, exposure to aesthetic activities is a human right that is necessary for well-being. The power of shared creativity through a therapeutic choir strengthens and builds communities, conferring identity, expression and artistic innovation.
I love that line: “Exposure to aesthetic activities is a human right that is necessary for well-being.” Without music, without art, who are we? Our expressions of self are most powerfully expressed in our artistic endeavors - and the experience of expressing ourselves in community can only strengthen our senses of self, of well-being, and of peace.
One piece that we’re performing in this next concert addresses all of these ideas: “You Will Be Found” from the musical Dear Evan Hansen. It’s an uplifting piece about the power of community, and our ability to bring light and hope to a person struggling with depression or isolation. It declares, “You are not alone … When you’re broken on the ground, you will be found.” And that, at its core, is the power and the beauty of a choral community.
We are so looking forward to performing this piece for you at our upcoming concert; in the meantime, enjoy this recording of the original Broadway cast singing “You Will Be Found.”