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Joining the choir is good for your heart!

posted Sep 1, 2013, 7:49 AM by Steven Vaughan   [ updated Sep 1, 2013, 7:49 AM ]
Singing with others can feel like a transcendent experience, both fervent and soothing. But is there a physical basis for these feelings? Sweden's University of Gothenburg studied the heart rates of choir members as they sang, and recently confirmed that choral singing has calming effects on the heart!

Using pulse monitors attached to singers, researchers measured the changes in their heart rates. When the choir began to sing, their heart rates slowed down. "It is a form of guided breathing," says musicologist Bjorn Vickhoff, who led the project. "You exhale on the phrases and breathe in between the phrases. When you exhale, the heart slows down."

But what really struck him was that it took almost no time at all for the heart rates to become synchronized. The pulse monitor's readout starts as a jumble of jagged lines, but quickly becomes a series of uniform peaks. That's because there's a neurochemistry to singing. Other studies have already proven that when people sing together, their brains release oxytocin. This is the neurotransmitter known as the friendship chemical, or the empathy chemical.

So do your heart a favor and join the choir that sings at the 11:45 am Mass! There's no audition necessary, you don't need any musical experience or knowledge, and you won't ever have to sing a solo if you don't want to. There's also no need to make any long term commitment; new members are encouraged to sing when they can. Rehearsals are weekly on Wednesday evenings from 7:30–9:00 pm, beginning on September 11 as we prepare to sing for Curtis Stephan and Dan Schutte, who will be attending Mass on September 22nd prior to their 4:00 pm concert Age to Age: Generation of Faith. A stronger and bigger choir will only give Immaculate Heart of Mary a healthier “Heart”!