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February 6, 2004

Washington Post

This is an except from a lengthy artice about the joys and benefits of harmony singing. A good read - Editor

It has been observed for millennia: Singing can be a tonic for both body and soul. Kelsey Menehan knows that firsthand. The Silver Spring-based therapist, a member of the Washington Chorus, offers a talk on music every year at Washington's Center for Mind-Body Medicine.

"It's such a joyful thing, to sing. I think it does something chemically," she says. "Maybe in the same way that exercise does." And although you may get an endorphin rush from running, singing provides "the added benefit of beauty." Lifting one's voice in a gorgeous piece by Beethoven or Bach is not just a respiratory workout but what Menehan calls "a transcendent spiritual experience."

On a more basic level, singing plugs into some of the calming effects of other disciplines. "In order to sing well you have to learn how to breathe," she says. "The kind of breath [you find] in yoga and meditation." But Menehan knows all too well that few people feel yogic calm at the prospect of singing. Aloud. In public. She has heard stories in her therapeutic practice -- stories about people who have been asked politely to just mouth the words when singing in grade school, for example. "People carry that around all their lives," she says.

Carolyn Sloan, a Brooklyn, N.Y.-based singer and teacher, and the author of "Finding Your Voice: A Practical and Spiritual Approach to Singing and Living," agrees that singing intimidates many people. The sources of that fear are as complex as the human psyche, in her view. "It's many, many reasons," she sighs. For starters, singing "feels very exposing. We feel very naked -- emotionally naked -- when we're singing." Joining a choir is a great way to discover -- or rediscover -- what your voice can do. And making music with a group does more than provide protective cover. There's a special zing that comes from singing en masse. More

Posted by acapnews at February 6, 2004 9:34 AM

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