The Miracle Of Song

Have you ever thought about what singing is? Somehow when you analyse it, it seems quite a strange phenomenon, a method of using speech with tonality and rhythm.

Many of us sing when we feel in a good mood and many of us feel in a good mood when we sing. Singing with other people is a great way of connecting and forming a community. Songs usually have positive or inspiring words, something that I wasn’t aware of when I sang at school but on reflection, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ and many of the other school classics were very much about gratitude and appreciation.

Rather like laughter, which many of you know I regularly use as a form of exercise and boost of positive emotions, singing is another activity that exercises the lungs and diaphragm and brings more oxygen into the body. Active singing, the sort that requires concentration on the melody and harmony can feel rather meditative and put us in a mindful state and so provide respite and relaxation from the stress of everyday life.

There appears to be cognitive benefits to singing too and recent research has shown that it can be effective in improving the health of Alzheimer’s disease patients. Singing familiar songs requires little to no cognitive or mental processing because the motor centre of the brain responds directly to the auditory and rhythmic cues. This means that a person’s ability to engage in music, particularly rhythm playing and singing, remains intact even in the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease because success does not depend on cognitive functioning. Singing and music are strongly associated with memories and emotions and it is likely that there are many tunes that you associate with specific events and occasions.

In recent four month study that looked at the mental performance of patients with Alzheimer’s disease it was found that those who took part in regular group singing sessions improved compared with others who just listened. The Sound of Music, Oklahoma, The Wizard of Oz and Pinocchio were some of the classic songs played and patients were encouraged to sing along. Even those who didn’t join in still benefitted from listening which prompted activity in the temporal lobe on the right-hand side of the brain.

There has been anecdotal evidence of the benefit of singing with patients with Alzheimer’s disease for a long time and research seems to support the previous claims. However, the following video is probably the most compelling and moving demonstrations of how singing and music can connect with people who appear to be unreachable. It is recommended you watch all the way to the end.





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