Back in December, when Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge visited New York, the press reported every detail of their whirlwind tour of our city. One thing that we found especially interesting was a story about a meeting between Kate and Hillary Clinton, during which the former U.S. Secretary of State mentioned the importance of singing to babies. “We’re trying to encourage more people to sing … because the research suggests that it’s beneficial,” Clinton told Kate.
This may or may not have been news to the Duchess, but it’s not news to us. There is plenty of scientific evidence demonstrating that singing lullabies or nursery rhymes to infants before they learn to speak may help develop their language skills later on. And there are other benefits as well, including fostering emotional comfort as babies grow and develop.
All this is important, of course, but there is more you should know: singing is good for older children and adults as well.
Studies have shown that raising your voice in a song has both physical and psychological benefits. Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at University of London, has studied developmental and medical aspects of singing for 30 years, so he is certainly an expert in this field. This is what he says: “Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood stream and exercises major muscle groups in the upper body, even when sitting.”
What about the psychological / emotional aspect of this activity? The professor explains that singing “reduces stress levels through the action of the endocrine system, which is linked to our sense of emotional well-being.”
The positive effect comes from the endorphins and oxytocin (NOT to be confused with a drug Oxycontin!). These two hormones, which are released during singing – and music in general – are associated with feelings of pleasure and stress reduction, respectively. In our book, any activity that can make us healthier and happier is certainly worth pursuing!
Do you want to be able to sing but feel you don’t have what it takes? Maybe you think you can’t carry a tune because you are tone-deaf? Actually, only a tiny percentage of the population is truly tone-deaf, suffering from a rare condition called amusia. For the vast majority of people, however, “tone-deafness” – inability to hear pitch or distinguish among musical notes– is nothing more than lack of training. It could also boil down to lack of confidence in your ability to carry a tune, or not knowing how to use your voice.
Let us reassure you with another piece of scientific evidence: research suggests that a good singing voice is simply a matter of training and practice. Singing is not an unattainable art form reserved only for the most talented and gifted vocalists; it is a skill that anyone can master with the help of an experienced and patient voice teacher.
This is where we can definitely help. When one of our teachers comes to your Manhattan, Brooklyn or Riverdale home or office, you will learn proper breathing techniques, tone placement, muscle control, and other fundamental aspects of singing that will give you confidence to belt out many a tune.
Remember: the key to…singing in key is training, practice, and an awesome teacher!