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May 20, 2008

Does singing in a chorus make you healthier?

Boston Globe (MA):
By Judy Foreman

It appears to. And that's great news for the 29 million adults and children who sing in America's 250,000 professional, community, church, and school choruses, according to figures from Chorus America, a service organization.

It's not clear how much of the health benefit is due to hanging out with other people and how much to the artistic challenge, but a handful of studies suggest that, for whatever mix of reasons, choral singing is good for your health.

In 2006, Dr. Gene Cohen, a psychiatrist and director of the Center on Aging, Health and Humanities at George Washington University, published results of a federally funded study on 300 people aged 65 to 103 in three cities. In each city, half of the participants attended an arts program and half did not.

In the Washington, D.C., group, the arts program consisted of singing in a chorale led by Jeanne Kelly, a professional opera singer. "I have done all kinds of things in my musical career," Kelly said recently. "And this is the best thing I have ever done. I just love to see these folks so darn happy."

After one year, the singers reported better health than at the outset of the study, while the health of the control group was worse, said Cohen. The singers also had fewer falls and greater improvement in measures of depression, loneliness, and morale.

"If a person is actively involved in an arts program, especially with other people," said Cohen, "that's doing very good things for health."

In a paper published in 2004, Gunter Kreutz, a musicologist and research fellow at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, studied 31 choral singers before and after a one-hour rehearsal and found that an immune marker in saliva called IgA increased, as did mood. "We must turn more attention to culture and arts as part of healthy living," he said in an e-mail.

There have been many studies now that all show that harmony singing can be beneficial for both body and mind. I wonder if there's any grant money out there to research this further..

Posted by acapnews at May 20, 2008 9:37 PM

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