Why you sing at concerts, and how it can help you

Freddie Mercury, the singer of Queen, had a prodigious voice capable of filling a stadium. But at this concert in Sao Paulo in 1981 he could be seen giving the spotlight to the public:

Why do we like music

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According to Brian May, guitarist of the group, something special happened in the stadium with this song. “Not only did they know it but they sang it. And not only did they sing it, but they sang it with a passion that made us cry.”

It could be said that singing in a group makes us human. From singing happy birthday (a song in which the norm is off key) to singing our favorite songs at a concert or our team’s anthem, singing with other people makes us feel good. Why?

We must search for the origins of music. The first known musical instrument is a flute carved from the femur of a bear, found in Slovenia, estimated to be 40,000 years old. But scientists believe that singing began much earlier as a form of communication.

the language of song

Singing activates the same areas of the brain as language, and indeed, one theory about the origin of music is that singing emerges as an evolution of mother tongue, communication through a combination of humming, gestures, rhythms, and movement. between mothers and babies.

But there is much more than language. The composer Maurice Ravel had affected the left hemisphere of his brain, where language resides mostly, and he could not speak, read or write, but he could compose music. Without words we know if a song is sad or happy.

Listening to music engages the memory centers of the brain, such as the hippocampus and the lower parts of the frontal lobe, and contrary to what was previously thought, it has been shown to involve both hemispheres. If we follow the rhythm with our body or even by tapping on the table, the cerebellum, the part responsible for movement, is involved. When we play an instrument or sing, the frontal lobe kicks in, allowing us to plan (and know what note or word is next).

Singing has very positive effects on health and the brain. Makes lower cortisol and stress levels (unless you have to sing in front of a demanding audience). It also improves memory and Alzheimer’s symptoms. help with the speak to people with autismaphasia or stuttering.

However, the effects are amplified when we sing in the company of other people.

sing together

It has been proven that singing in a choir help with symptoms of depression after the loss of a loved one. A 2012 study found that singing, drumming, and dancing in a group trigger the release of hormones that increase pain tolerance in a way that simply listening to music does not.

In a study of thousands of schoolchildren, researchers found that children who participated in a singing and music participation program developed a strong sense of community and inclusion Social. On the other hand, in a 2016 study with 375 adults, it was observed that people who sang in a group had a higher sense of well-being and connection than those who sang alone.

Why is singing so magical? There is a physiological effect that results from the control of respiration. To sing we have to take short breaths and long breaths, which is exactly the rhythm of breathing that induces a state of relaxation.

But in addition, the vibration of the vocal cords activates the vagus nerve, the one responsible for the state of calm. Just by humming NO levels increase (nitric oxide) in the blood, which decreases inflammation, and heart variability or HRVwhich is a measure of the ability to control stress.

Singing together spontaneously also releases endorphins (the brain’s internal opiates) and the hormone oxytocin, which are released when people feel united. The famous hormone of hugs or love.

Singing in a group synchronizes us with other people, leads us to create a choir of voices in which everyone participates and feels supported. No wonder the Queen artists were in tears.

* Darío Pescador is editor and director of the quo magazine and author of the book your best self Posted by Oberon.

Photo: Mark Verch

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Why you sing at concerts, and how it can help you