The Joy Of Communal Singing (3 min read)

I can’t sing. I can’t play a instrument. And if I have choice between listening to music or a podcast, I pick the latter. Yet, I know that being too “heady” is not healthy. So I’m always trying to find activities that are physical (like running ) or artistic (like painting) as an offset. But my latest activity has to be my bravest yet – attending a singing workshop!

The Workshop

We were given two hours to learn a song from the movie “The Greatest Showman”. In case you haven’t seen it, it features “Wolverine” aka Hugh Jackman in a musical about a circus. Now before you ask, I didn’t have to do any solos (I’m not that brave, nor as talented as Jackman), we had to sing in a group.

The song was “This Is Me”, which is the rousing song sung by the circus performers. The twelve of us in the workshop had to be split into three groups based on the depth of our voices. I was in the deep/low voice group. Each group would learn the way of singing the lines, then we would all come together to sing at the same time with each group providing layers to the song. I didn’t realise how complex these big musical numbers can be!

So how did I enjoy the session? I loved it. It helped that I could hide in a group, it also helped that it was funny when we made mistakes (eg singing when you’re not supposed to). Even better was when everyone was in flow with each other, which sounded great (I’m biased, but it was great!). Best of all, it was a communal activity – there is something quite special about letting one’s guard down and belting out songs with others.

The proven benefits of communal singing

Naturally, after the session, I did some research to understand the benefits of singing. I discovered that communal singing has been found to ease muscle tension, releases neurochemicals like β-endorphin (a natural painkiller), reduces stress and improves mood by boosting dopamine and serotonin levels in our brain.

It is no wonder that most cultures across time have had some form of communal singing or chanting. This was often in a religious guise like choirs (Christianity), dhikr (Islam) or Vedic Patha (Hinduism). Today, the new temples of worship, sports stadiums, provide an opportunity to sing communally. The popularity of karaoke bars is another channel for singing  (badly) in a group. Then of course, there are long car trips, which can be good or bad depending on who’s singing.

Find your song

But whatever your situation, I’d thoroughly recommend finding a way to sing in a group setting. I’ve already booked by next singing workshop (this time songs from”Hamilton”). To get your creative juices going, here’s a list of the most popular songs found to be sung on car journeys:

  1. “Bohemian Rhapsody” – Queen
  2. “Livin’ on a Prayer” – Bon Jovi
  3. “Sweet Caroline” – Neil Diamond
  4. “Dancing Queen” – ABBA
  5. “Don’t Stop Believin’” – The Journey
  6. “I Will Survive” – Gloria Gaynor
  7. “Wonderwall” – Oasis
  8. “Hotel California” – The Eagles
  9. “Hey Jude” – The Beatles
  10. “Eye of the Tiger” – Survivor