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December 13, 2007

Reasons To Sing the Changes

The Sun (UK):

We wish you a vocal Christmas – because it should help ensure a happy New Year. According to researchers at Western Ontario University, Canada, singing can help lift depression. And closer to home, as we report above, a choir is proving to be a canny cure for people with asthma and other serious breathing problems.

Here Christopher Browning explains why there are lots of good reasons to sing out.

SNORING

Because singing tones muscles at the back of the throat, it has been shown to give the long-suffering partners of snorers a silent night. Alise Ojay, who headed a study into its benefits at the University of Exeter, says: “Surgical interventions to treat snoring include removing tissue from the upper throat or toughening it by creating scar tissue. “Singing offers a harmless, healthy, noninvasive, inexpensive, even enjoyable way to restore the throat’s tone.”

For more information, see singingforsnorers.com

SOOTHE BABY

Every parent knows that singing a lullaby can calm a grumpy child, but a study at the University of Western Sydney found that it can also soothe desperately ill infants.Researchers discovered songs help babies in intensive care cope with their life-saving treatment. They say songs help tots maintain normal behavioural development. They are less irritable, upset and tearful. Dr Stephen Malloch says: “It’s likely the babies who received music therapy used up less energy when compared with the babies who did not receive the therapy. “If a baby is less irritable and cries less, this has implications for rate of healing and weight gain – two significant factors which contribute to the length of a hospital stay.”

DEMENTIA

Songs from our childhoods appear to break through the barriers of dementia. Canadian scientists found that patients with severe Alzheimer’s, who did not respond to other stimulus, were able to recognise songs from their youth and join in. If nurses played a tune incorrectly one would screw up her face and complain, going some way to proveing that the areas of the brain which retain musical memories are not affected by the condition. Boffins hope the discovery will lead to music therapies to help patients with dementia.

BONDING

Companies use songs to help build teamwork and loyalty. Computer giant IBM has rehashed an American military tune while cash till manufacturer NCR has created its own version of The Beatles’ Back In The USSR to encourage employees to sing from the same hymn sheet. Advocates of business-bop claim that upbeat company songs are designed to stress youthful energy and a can-do attitude. They are widely used in the US and Japan. But, and this won’t surprise you, Warwick University discovered many British workers found company songs an embarrassment.

SMOKING

American health campaigners are using song to help smokers stub out. Neighbourhood choirs have been formed to promote the benefits of quitting and to encourage a buddy system where on-song choir members help each other beat their nicotine addiction. A two-year pilot project cut smoking rates from 34 to 27 per cent across three mainly African-American neighbourhoods, while smoking rates in comparable areas fell by just one per cent over the same period. A key feature in this initiative was a Gospelfest, where each choir included an antismoking song in its repertoire.

IMMUNE SYSTEM

Listening to a choir could help you shake off coughs and colds. Researchers at Frankfurt University, Germany, asked volunteers to listen to choral music and used saliva tests to measure hormone levels before and after the performance. Levels of cortisol, a hormone known to suppress immune system response, was much lower after the show. Cortisol undermines the body’s ability to produce T cells which fight infection. High levels of cortisol are also linked to blood pressure and blood sugar problems.

STRESS

The same researchers found joining in a singsong lowers stress. Some studies have shown that singing releases the love hormone oxytocin, which is released by both sexes during orgasm – and researchers at Canterbury Christ Church University found choir members feel more upbeat after singing.

It's always fun for me to once and awhile read the British tabloids and The Sun is one of the biggest. Nobody does tabloids like the English! I do know somebody who could benefit from the Singing For Snorers CDs... And fun to to see some old favourite words that are not used here in the US like in the above use of "boffins". Such a lovely word.

Posted by acapnews at December 13, 2007 12:04 AM

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