Research has demonstrated the many benefits of singing, with some unique benefits to singing in a choir or group:
Culturally, genetically, we are programmed to make music. Our bodies are rhythmic entities, and our voices are the truest, most integrated way to access and convey the music we love, learn, and wish to express! Singing is a way to bind a society or cultural group together, as we sing a shared musical heritage. The flip side of that is that it’s a way for each of us to learn about other cultures as we learn the music important to that land, or people, or group.
Physically, singing releases endorphins throughout the body associated with relieving stress and other, more serious issues of mental health or emotional well being. Singing is a form of exercise, bringing increased lung capacity, activating and strengthening intercostal muscles (between your ribs) and the muscles of the diaphragm. In addition to the stronger respiratory muscles, singing can lead to lower blood pressure, increased blood oxygen saturation, elevated immunity, higher pain threshold, and less stuttering.
Music making in general produces measurable changes in the brain! For younger musicians, this means help with memorization and spatial development, language and emotional connection/expression. For the more “experienced” musicians, these changes positively impact our ability to heal after strokes by assisting the formation of alternative pathways around damaged brain tissue. All of these factors can lead to a deeper sense of well-being and overall happiness.
Socially, singing in a group helps strengthen social bonds (finding “your people” and then working together toward common goals) and tapping into awe-inspiring creative opportunities that amplify what can be done with just one person. This teamwork ends up doing amazing things like teaching social awareness and providing social supports, but also synchronizing the breathing and even the heartbeats of choir members.
Mental health is strengthened through physiological aspects such as the breathing together, which can, especially in slower works, be quite meditative. Music can also engage us cathartically as we create it with our bodies and our skills. We can channel or change our emotions; we can sense the power of entrainment (when the rhythms of an entire group are synchronized); we can connect with others on an intuitive and/or visceral level, both within the group and in the listening audience.
Then there is that marvellous element of group music-making unique to choirs: the text! When choirs work on high calibre music of any style, there is the reward of the musical aspects, but also the challenge, learning and reward of singing meaningful texts. The lyrics of a song can help express emotions, convey ideas or give a glimpse onto another culture. A song’s words can uplift, inspire, remind, chastise, challenge or evoke, especially when artfully combined with the musical characteristics the composer chooses. And then, finally, each choir brings its own interpretation to a song to create the final product of that particular performance or recording.
Survey of well being:
Lower blood pressure, reduced depression: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19594648/
Pain Management: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4994773/
Brain development: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5618809/
Healing from stroke/reduced stuttering:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996848/
Synchronized heartbeats: https://www.the-scientist.com/the-nutshell/choir-singers-synchronize-heartbeats-39045
And now, when we’re not even sure whether and when and how we might be able to start choirs back up again:
Hoo boy! This one is big… but important!
Kids and adults need to be able to connect, communicate, create and express. Music is one of the very best ways to do all those things while disguised as being FUN! I’ve written the following mostly for my children’s choir singers, but we can extrapolate much of it for adult groups as well.
Music-making and music learning are much MORE fun when we are able to be in the same room: we can hear better, breathe together better, and understand immediately what is working and what might need improvement. We can hear each other modelling how to sing the right thing, and sometimes even the wrong thing! We can match the colour of our voice to other singers, not just the pitch. If someone beside us is singing loudly or softly, we can match how loudly or softly, instead of having to guess. AND - this is important!! - we can interact with our singing friends and maybe even make jokes, spend time together working hard but then also spend time playing or talking.
BUT - maybe we won’t be able to be together in the same room each week like we usually have in the past,
OR - maybe we won’t be able to see each other’s faces as well, while we have to wear masks to keep each other safe,
OR - maybe we’ll have to have shorter rehearsals, or go sing together in new and unfamiliar places (like outside?),
OR - we might even have to find new ways to present our music to our friends and families, since they might not all be able to be in the same room with us for a concert.
Meeting online will never be a replacement for meeting in person, and as long as we acknowledge that right of the bat, we can make a point of looking for the positives:
We can learn our music really well, because we’ll clearly hear our own voice as we sing along to recordings.
We can take the time to learn a lot about the way music is created, written down, sounded and sung. This might mean focussing on who the composer was and how they decided to do certain things in a piece of music we are learning. It might mean finding out about a set of words and where they came from (a poet? A story?). We can learn about what the music looks like on the printed page, and how to recognize the things we are seeing. We can make up exercises that help us with challenging lines of music, or hard text. And we can watch each other on video chats, or listen to each other sing to hear how others are doing (only when you want to!).
We can play games online together even when we might all be able to sing at the same time. This will make the learning part more interesting and engaging!
PLEASE KNOW THAT AS SOON AS IT IS SAFE TO MEET IN PERSON, THAT WILL BE OUR PREFERRED OPTION, BUT THAT THE SAFETY AND WELL-BEING OF ALL OUR SINGERS AND THEIR FAMILIES IS THE TOP PRIORITY.
From June 28-July 2 of 2019, members of Camrose and Area Sr Children’s Choir and Vivo Cantando went to Ottawa to participate in Unisong 2019. Unisong is a choral festival that invites choirs from all across Canada to come together and celebrate unity through the sharing of great Canadian Choral music. Our singers deemed the entire experience a huge success. We were able to afford the trip through the generous support of both local and provincial granting bodies as well as individuals and the hard work of our choir members.
Once in Ottawa it became clear that our cultural goals were all met or exceeded. What kind of goals are cultural goals, you ask? Well, here’s just a partial list:
The music we sang was challenging and engaging, and many of us came back home with more than one favourite song we had learned!
Because this was a smaller Unisong group this year, we were afforded the privilege of performing “God Save the Queen” and “Oh Canada” onstage on Parliament Hill on Canada Day, which was an extremely impactful experience for the singers and their families The fact that we were on TV was a pretty big deal to families and other members of our community back home.
The cultural exchange in Ottawa was made even more impactful by the fact that one of the other choirs - Cantares from Calgary - was comprised of adults who had emigrated from Venezuela, and to hear their marvellous music but also their stories of how lucky they felt to be in Canada at a time when Venezuela is going through so much turmoil was very profound.
Added bonus: We encountered this group in public on the evening of Canada Day (after our choral festival was over) and spent almost 45 minutes just spontaneously singing on the streets as we waited for the crowds to clear after Canada Day fireworks.
A new season brings a renewed goal!! After last year’s event was cancelled due to events outside our control, plans for Unisong 2019 are well underway. Our choir members are very excited to continue fund-raising in preparation for attending Unisong 2019, from approximately June 28 until July 2nd.
What is Unisong? It’s a choral festival involving choirs from all across the country, and members of our choir will sing on the stage of the National Arts Centre on Canada Day with hundreds of other young Canadian singers. Stay tuned for more information regarding Unisong Canada, our fundraising efforts, and our repertoire for this National festival. For more information on how you can help the choir reach their goals, please contact us!
This year’s Camrose and Area Children’s and Youth Choirs will perform music on the theme “Dream Your Inspiration”. Music for these concerts will be based on songs that encourage dreaming big, having fun, and meeting the challenge - whether that be the challenge of being your best self, of singing beautiful music, or heading toward lofty goals! Check out our Events page for concert details!
Camrose Camerata adult chamber choir has chosen the contrasting themes of “Light” and “Dark” for 2018-19. Come explore with us as we present music of the community, of rejoicing, of faith and hope in our first concert, and turn to music of the night, of mourning, and of humour with a twist in the second coffeehouse event!
We are currently accepting singers in all SATB voice parts. For information on how to audition for our group, please send us a note or call 780-672-3372, or text 780-781-4087.