Almost every culture believes in the power of music to heal both physically and psychologically. Ancient and modern scientific research confirms these beliefs and we now can show evidence of changes in the brain when listening to Mozart or the Beatles. But what if we have different musical tastes? Different regions and each individual human being have their own ideas of what is relaxing music and what is uplifting. What one person might love to fall asleep to, might just sound like annoying noise to someone else.
The good news is there is so much to choose from! So many genres, so many instruments, so many rhythms, tempos, and dynamics! In fact, there is so much to choose from, it might seem overwhelming instead of healing to pick out the appropriate music for yourself.
Where do you start? NOT in a music store or online as you might think! Buying and downloading recordings, purchasing tickets to live music performances, and supporting arts organizations is incredibly important to the vitality of a community, but if you’re on a tight budget, or you can’t go out due to illness, depression, or whatever reason, your health benefits from music don’t need to be sacrificed! Why? Because you can make music yourself…for FREE! You have your own built-in instrument: your voice! It doesn’t need government approval (well, usually) or clinical trials like new drugs or medical procedures. Free is far more affordable than pharmaceuticals!
Listening to music isn’t the only way to receive the undisputed health benefits of music. Creating your own music gives it to you, too, if not more! Singing releases endorphins which make you feel happier, and you also release oxytocin, which decreases stress and minimizes depression and loneliness, and thus helps you sleep better, reduces the risk of heart disease, boosts your immune system, enhances your mental awareness, motivation, concentration, and memory, and…you’ll probably live longer!
Sounds like a no-brainer to start singing and to sing more! But it’s not that easy for most people. Singing in public or even when you think one person can hear you can be paralyzingly terrifying. And like talking to yourself, some people might feel weird singing when they’re by themselves. What a dilemma. Well, when did you stop taking risks? And if you’ve never taken a risk, here’s a pretty good one to try! Turn on the radio and sing along! Sing in the shower or the bathroom where the acoustics are good. If you think you can’t match pitch well or sound terrible, just remember, Pete Seeger said “ANYONE CAN SING!” True he didn’t say “Anyone can sing well”, but everyone CAN sing if you have vocal chords.
Try repetitive, catchy kids songs that you might remember from your parents or school. If you prefer chanting or are curious about it, choose an easy chant that is mostly one note and not too many syllables. And whenever you have the opportunity, sing with other people if you like to “not stand out”.
Singing can be like brushing your teeth. Make it part of your daily routine of healthy habits! It can be part of preventative healthcare, and help heal you from any type of suffering. It sets a great example for children and other adults. And remember…IT’S FREE!