Neuroscience: Singing makes you (not me) happy

In second grade we stood at our desk and sang. EVERY DAY.  The teacher traveled the room, bending down to intently listen to each child.  Those who were out of tune she tapped on the head to sit down.  There were two of us who always got tapped.
From third grade on  I silently mouthed the words anytime, anywhere there was singing, terrified someone would hear me.   

Now the science is in. Singing is really good for you and the most recent research suggests that group singing is the most exhilarating and transformative of all.

Creating music together evolved as a tool of social living. Groups and tribes sang and danced together to build loyalty, transmit vital information and ward off enemies.  (Since I still can’t carry a tune I figure all my enemies have long ago been warded off.)

Caterwauling beautiful music by Peggy

“What has not been understood until recently is that singing in groups triggers the communal release of serotonin and oxytocin, the bonding hormone, and even synchronises our heart beats.”

“Singing helps people with depression and reduces feelings of loneliness, leaving people feeling relaxed, happy and connected. What’s more, the benefits of singing regularly are cumulative. People who sing have reduced levels of cortisol, indicating lower stress.” (The research must have been done on people who could carry a tune.  My cortisol levels still go up when singing)

Now the good news (for me) . . . 

One of the great things about singing is that you can receive the wellbeing benefits even if you aren’t any good. One study showed that:

“Group singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations even when the sound produced by the vocal instrument is of mediocre quality.”

“The current research into the neuroscience of singing shows that when we sing our neurotransmitters connect in new and different ways. It fires up the right temporal lobe of our brain, releasing endorphins that make us smarter, healthier, happier and more creative. When we sing with other people this effect is amplified.”

I still can’t carry a tune but at least no one . . . so far . . . has tapped me on the head since second grade.


Read the entire article:  The Neuroscience of Singing


6 comments on “Neuroscience: Singing makes you (not me) happy

    • Me too but it doesn’t matter if the music is good and you are having fun. I always liked bad dancers who dance anyway-it just shows how you can enjoy yourself without been good at something and do it for fun, and gives everyone else permission to be bad too!


  1. When I was taking ukulele class, about 50 people in the class, we would play the ukulele and sing together all kinds of songs, including pop songs, Hawaiian songs. I like Pearly shells, You are my sunshine, Over the rainbow, when I came home from class I was happy the whole day.


    • That sounds fantastic! What a lot of fun. It is amazing how happy music can can lift your mood. It always makes me want to dance. Do you think of taking classes there again?


  2. My mom, who has Alzheimer’s, loves to sing even though she can’t. She is flat, off key, out of tune. But she belts out with such exuberance that everyone around her beams with the joy she expresses. You can’t help but smile around her. What a great article this is – and I love the Caterwauling Choir.


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