A friend of mine from high school always talks about how fondly she remembers her days in the school choir. From the performances they gave to the friends she made, those choir days hold a special place in her heart which I can only assume will be there forever. Even now through the magic of Facebook, I believe she is back in touch with her old choir pals.
Apparently new research shows that my dear friend was on to something. People who sing in choirs report that over time, those choirs become consistently meaningful social groups, giving its members stronger feelings of well-being. Even more so, it seems, than sports teams become to their members.
In school I played soccer and was a member of different clubs. No choir would have let me in even if I were interested once they heard me sing. Trust me on that one. Though I look back on those days very fondly, my memories are more about the sport, the competitive spirit, and the work than about the team or club. Sure, it was great to channel that competitive spirit with teammates, but it is clearly a different type of bond.
People who sing in choirs specifically report a significantly higher feeling of well-being than those who sing alone. Perhaps that has to do with the physical bond formed among choir members that makes them feel like part of a cohesive group. How cool is this? When people sing in unison their heart beats become synchronized so that their pulses can actually increase and decrease in unison.
In medical terms (stay with me here), singing regulates activity in the vagus nerve, which runs on each side of your body from your brainstem to your chest and abdomen. As it turns out, stimulating the vagus nerve can improve a person’s mood and lessen symptoms of depression. When the vagus nerves of a group of choir singers are regulated in unison as their hearts become synchronized, it makes sense that the members have more of a euphoric feeling towards one another.
So when in doubt, sing in a choir.