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September 1, 2004

Pennington Post

Why Do People Sing?

Fish gotta swim, and birds gotta fly, people gotta sing, why oh why? The answers are as various as the singers, says Dr. Lynne Ransom, director of the VOICES Chorale, one of New Jersey's outstanding choruses. They sing to be more creative, to reduce stress and socialize with other singers, and they sing for the pure pleasure of recreating some of the world's greatest music.

Singing is innate, Ransom explains. Babies sing long before they talk, as all grandmothers and early childhood teachers know. They begin with "cooing" and copying sounds around them. Children of three or four often sing to themselves in a stream of consciousness song, while adults whistle, hum or sing to themselves. People with speech problems, such as stuttering or loss of vocabulary, may be able to sing freely, according to speech pathologists.

Singing is primal. People traveling to another area where their first language is not spoken recognize that music is an international language, supporting universal understanding of common themes and emotions. Singing provides a bridge to other cultures and people. "One reason people enjoy singing is that it draws on left-brain thinking," Ransom says. That's why many business people and researchers are drawn to singing. It gives them an opportunity to use left-brain or more creative "artsy" thinking.

Another benefit of singing is that it improves health, Ransom notes. Scientific research shows that the deep breathing and resonation used in singing often reduces stress. In her 17 years of working with VOICES, Ransom has often heard singers talk about how singing affects them. They constantly report that no matter how tired they are when they arrive at rehearsal, they feel relaxed and refreshed when they head back home. Choral singing is also rejuvenating because of the social aspects of choral singing. "A chorus becomes a community of people who share experiences and work to achieve a common goal as they come face to face with great art," she says. Singers make friends with other chorale members, and they enjoy performing in VOICES' volunteer programs. More

Posted by acapnews at September 1, 2004 9:42 PM