Throughout history, choral singing has always formed an integral part of opera and music making and has been at the heart of what we do here at Welsh National Opera since our formation in the 1940s. Research now shows that it is beneficial for your physical and mental health. Here are some of our favourite reasons why you should get involved choral singing.
It is stimulating for your brain – belting out your favourite tunes can help release feel-good chemicals such as endorphins and relieve stress and anxiety through emotional uplift. Choral singing has also been found to be helpful in improving memory and is used as a fun and therapeutic tool in supporting those living with dementia, as we’ve seen through WNO Cradle Choir, which was first launched in Swansea in 2019.
The many physical health benefits include better breathing and posture, engaging the core muscles and encouraging deeper breathing. We’ve seen these benefits first hand through Wellness with WNO, which has proven that even while singing and having fun, it’s possible to alleviate detrimental symptoms of Long COVID by bypassing the brain’s panic response to breathlessness.
A sense of community and belonging is crucial to wellbeing. Singing can help you meet new people and make new friends with whom you meet regularly, and can introduce many new events in your life to look forward to, including concerts, competitions and tours which are often a staple in the choir calendar.
It is a musical activity that everyone can get involved in, no matter your previous experience or ability. Singing together involves listening to one another and working to create a blended sound, where you can sing out without fear of being judged. There are many different types of singing groups, from Male Voice Choirs and large symphony choruses to chapel choirs, a cappella groups, gospel choirs and music theatre societies.
Perhaps most importantly, singing in a choir is a fantastic way to express your feelings and learn new things about yourself. It can also be a way to connect with your roots, an opportunity to embrace singing in your native language and enhance your appreciation for many different cultures. Many countries consider choral singing as essential to their cultural heritage, including here in Wales, where Welsh choral singing has a rich history dating back many centuries.
So strong is the link between choirs and Wales that it forms the basis of Blaze of Glory!, WNO’s brand-new production which explores the strengthening of a mining community following a disaster with the reestablishment of their local Male Voice Choir.