Well, despite Christmas having only just ended, it appears to be May… already! Here at The Music Place, we’re looking forward to a new month of exciting plans and to teaching and learning in the novel warmth! Unfortunately, for many of our younger Music Place students, the dawn of summer means the impending doom of exam season. Eek. So, for those of you with your heads buried in a chemistry book, take a break from it for a moment and read on; there’s one crucial ingredient you’re missing from your revision regime…singing!

Over the past few years, the pressures on students and teachers across the country has greatly increased, with new GCSE frameworks, new primary school curriculums and increased pressure to achieve high grades. Young Minds, a charity which focuses on offering support to children suffering with mental health issues, has stated that nearly 1 million children aged 5-15 now suffer from depression and anxiety; a study conducted by The NSPCC discovered that concerns about academic achievement was the biggest cause of stress in nearly 50% of children. And as the focus on academic achievement becomes more intense, the amount of time students are able to dedicate to creative subjects is becoming diminished. There certainly doesn’t seem to be enough time to keep going to school choir or to a singing lesson. But are there any benefits to singing which might be being squeezed out?

In 2008, the Sydney De Hann Research Centre for Arts and Health conducted a survey of choral singers from across England, Germany and Australia. The report found that 87% of choristers in England agree that singing helps to deal with stress and anxiety, and 92% agree that singing makes their mood more positive. This isn’t so surprising when you consider that singing releases endorphins in the brain, known to increase our feeling of wellbeing, reduce stress levels and improve our mood. We all know how important a positive mental attitude is to successful revision!

As well as simply making us happier, singing increasesoxygenation in the blood stream and exercises important muscles in the body, improving posture and core strength at the same time. It also helps our memory- why do you think the alphabet is set to music? Why do you think you can remember all the lyrics to a 4-minute song but you can’t seem to remember the four word Macbeth quote you’ve been learning for days? Because setting things to music helps things stick in our brains!

So, even when we’re swamped with work or buried under piles of revision, we should still try and find time to let ourselves sing. Go to choir! Go to your singing lesson! Sing in the shower! Wherever you can find a moment, exercise those vocal chords, it might just improve your attitude to work, your health, and your happiness. And don’t just take our word for it, someone smart said it too: ‘Let us go singing as far as we go: the road will be less tedious.’ (Virgil)

Have a lovely week everyone!