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: Choral singing and psychological wellbeing
Lower blood pressure, reduced depression: Effect of music on depression levels and physiological responses in community-based older adults
Immunity: Effects of choir singing or listening on secretory immunoglobulin A, cortisol, and emotional state
Pain Management: A qualitative study exploring the effects of attending a community pain service choir on wellbeing in people who experience chronic pain
Brain development: Music and the brain: the neuroscience of music and musical appreciation
Healing from stroke/reduced stuttering: The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders
Synchronized heartbeats: Choir Singers Synchronize Heartbeats
And now, when we're not even sure whether and when and how we might be able to start choirs back up again: