It is well known that newborn babies respond to melodies their mothers sang to them when they were in the womb. From the earliest years, research shows that music, especially classical music and classical singing greatly enhances mental, physical, emotional and intellectual aspects of human development.
According to the British Academy of Sound Therapy, singing can be very beneficial to our overall health in so many ways.
From improving our immune systems to stabilising mood through reducing stress, even just listening to music for more than 5 mins a day can bring about positive effects which are greatly enhanced when actively engaged with singing or playing an instrument.
Studies show that students who play a musical instrument score an average of 200 points higher on SAT scores.
For children with special educational needs in particular, activities which engage music and singing are known to improve the ability to concentrate, correct breathing to maximise lung capacity and improve co-ordination. A part of the inner ear called the sacculus releases endorphins when stimulated by music and along with the benefits of learning to breathe properly to fully oxygenate the brain, calms agitated children enabling them to focus on the rhythm of the melody and experience a shared sense of purpose and togetherness when singing in a group.
Very often the alphabet or language is taught through singing and this aids memory retention and the ability to multi-task, as many skills such as listening, remembering, controlling the voice and pitch are brought into play.
Humming is a very useful de-stressing exercise, as this activity instantly calms the mind and disables the stressful narratives in our heads. It is one of life’s great soothers and it would be helpful to teach children this self-help exercise from a young age.
Singing also strengthens lips and tongues which help with clear speaking. Posture is improved as bodies are taught to sit up so that breath is used consciously, especially in classical singing. Communication generally is improved along with self-confidence as it becomes a tool for self-expression.
For an activity which is so enjoyable and accessible to everyone, engaging in daily singing or playing musical instruments should be part of the curriculum from the earliest years, through schools and at home with caregivers or using the many free online programs which teach different methods of engaging with music for all age groups.
‘I don’t sing because I’m happy, I’m happy because I sing.’
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