Is Singing Therapeutic?

Some say that singing is therapeutic.

That it’s healthy.

Here are some interesting facts about that subject and links the the research about it.

Read the why from:

 “The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders”   by Catherine Y. Wan, Theodor Rüber, Anja Hohmann, and Gottfried Schlaug  (Just portions of these articles are quoted)

“Music making (playing an instrument or singing) is a multimodal activity that involves the integration of auditory and sensorimotor processes. The ability to sing in humans is evident from infancy, and does not depend on formal vocal training but can be enhanced by training. Given the behavioral similarities between singing and speaking, as well as the shared and distinct neural correlates of both, researchers have begun to examine whether singing can be used to treat some of the speech-motor abnormalities associated with various neurological conditions. This paper reviews recent evidence on the therapeutic effects of singing, and how it can potentially ameliorate some of the speech deficits associated with conditions such as stuttering, Parkinson’s disease, acquired brain lesions, and autism. By reviewing the status quo, it is hoped that future research can help to disentangle the relative contribution of factors to why singing works. This may ultimately lead to the development of specialized or “gold-standard” treatments for these disorders, and to an improvement in the quality of life for patients.
Singing in particular can serve as a valuable therapeutic tool because it is a universal form of musical expression that is as natural as speaking. Moreover, singing engages an auditory-motor feedback loop in the brain more intensely than other music making activities such as instrumental playing (e.g., Bangert et al., 2006; Kleber et al., 2009). From a developmental perspective, babies produce vocalizations that can be regarded as precursors for music and speech intonation (Welch, 2006). By kindergarten age, children can sing a fairly large repertoire of songs, and their performance level is similar to that of adults (Dowling, 1999). Some children exhibit “intermediate vocalizations,” a type of vocal behavior that lies at the boundary between speech and song (Mang, 2001). This blurring of boundaries is reinforced by a shared network in the brain that underlies both singing and speaking (e.g., Kleber et al., 2009; Ozdemir, Norton, & Schlaug, 2006). The goal of this paper is to summarize recent evidence on the therapeutic effects of singing, and how it can modify the speech-motor symptoms of several neurological disorders. Because of the overlap between the expressive components of the music and language systems, the focus of this review will be on the use of singing in the treatment of speech-motor abnormalities associated with neurological conditions.
General Physiological Effects of Singing
Singing, or the act of producing musical sounds with the voice, has the potential to treat speech abnormalities because it directly stimulates the musculature associated with respiration, phonation, articulation, and resonance. The act of singing involves relatively strong and fast inspirations, followed by extended, regulated expirations. Singing requires breathing to be regulated in order to sustain the notes. It also results in a higher vocal intensity (Tonkinson, 1994) and vocal control (Natke, Donath, & Kalveram, 2003) than does speaking. Moreover, it has been suggested that singing increases respiratory muscle strength (Wiens, Reimer, & Guyn, 1999).

Research has shown that intensive singing practice can lead to long-lasting changes in both the cardiovascular and pulmonary systems. Grape, Sandgren, Hansson, Ericson, and Theorell, (2003) compared professional and amateur singers on heart rate variability before and after their singing lessons. Their rationale for examining this variable rests on the assumption that the more the heart is able to vary its rate, the better trained it is. Across the two time points (before and after singing lessons), heart rate variability increased significantly in the professional group but not in the amateur group. This finding indicates that professional singers have better cardio-physiological fitness, compared to amateur singers, thus providing evidence for the potential long-term health benefits of singing.
Recently, the therapeutic effect of singing on pulmonary functions of chronically ill patients has been investigated. Bonilha et al. (2009) examined whether singing could have an effect on pulmonary function parameters in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. These patients were randomly assigned to weekly classes consisting of either singing or handicraft (control) activities. Within the singing group, increases in dyspnea were reported after two minutes of vocal exercises. An elevated level of arterial oxygen saturation also was found during singing. While the singing group showed increased inspiratory capacity and decreased expiratory reserve volumes, the opposite patterns were observed in the control group on these two measures. More importantly, the singing group showed improvement in maximal expiratory pressure, while the control group showed deterioration on this measure. Because the act of singing requires long, repeated contractions of various respiratory muscles, this type of training may help to preserve the maximal expiratory pressure of patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.”
Stuttering can be helped by singing.

“Stuttering is a largely developmental condition that affects the fluency of speech. It is characterized by repetition of words or parts of words, as well as prolongations of speech sounds, resulting in disruptions in the normal flow of speech. This condition occurs most often in young children, while they are developing their speech and language skills. Stuttering may persist into adulthood: About 1% of adults continue to be affected by this condition (Prasse & Kikano, 2008). It has been suggested that stuttering may be linked with deficits in complex isochronous timing(A sequence of events is isochronous if the events occur regularly, or at equal time intervals.) (Max & Yudman, 2003).

Most existing treatments have focused on teaching individuals who stutter ways to produce more fluent speech, by instilling “fluency-enhancing” conditions. Singing, in particular, has been identified as having important therapeutic potential, and research has provided evidence in favor of this approach for enhancing fluency among individuals who stutter.”
Read the research at:

“The Therapeutic Effects of Singing in Neurological Disorders”
by Catherine Y. Wan, Theodor Rüber, Anja Hohmann, and Gottfried Schlaug
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996848/

From history as portrayed in the film “The King’s Speech” about Bertie the English Monarch.

The King’s Speech teaches about stuttering
by Peter Wehrwein, Editor, Harvard Health
http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/oscar-or-not-the-kings-speech-teaches-about-stuttering-201102271582

“In the movie, the Australian speech therapist Lionel Logue, played by Geoffrey Rush, has his royal client, played by Colin Firth, sing, swear (the swearing is the reason for the film’s R rating), and perform various strange vocal exercises. Despite their quarrels and class differences, the strong bond between the two men (at one level, the movie is a Masterpiece Theater–style bromance) is also presented as being crucial to the king’s heroic, and eventually successful, efforts to control his stutter.”

Get the film “The King’s Speech” on DVD  http://lnkd.in/Z2z4qX 
Other conditions helped by singing:
Aphasia is a common and devastating complication of stroke or other brain injuries that results in the loss of ability to produce and/or comprehend language.
Parkinson’s Disease
Autism
Another condition whose symptoms can potentially be helped by singing is autism.
Research about these also at:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2996848/


How about singers in the public eye?
Mel Tillis
His stutter developed during his childhood, a result of a bout with malaria.
It didn’t effect his singing any and he used it to great entertainment effect when talking.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mel_Tillis

Watch a funny story where he plays on the stuttering:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5aweaoakyK8images     Or get “The best of Mel Tillis” on audio CD   http://lnkd.in/VEQTBC 

Lazaro Arbos
Ever since he was 6 years-old, Lazaro Arbos sought comfort in singing. – See more at: http://presencelearning.com/blog/what-we-learned-about-stuttering-from-american-idol-contestant-lazaro-arbos/#sthash.h1IjD6gs.dpuf

So singing can stop stuttering and is good for your heart and respiratory system and can cure the brain and calm the savage beast.

In other words, Singing is healthy.

12/12/2014:                                                                                                                                            Here is a new comment on one of my “How to speak better” videos form a man who stutters. He has a good suggestion for those with the problem.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VMA2TGrq2_E&list=UUHF-verxa3GqtHqlzOogTAg

Thanks for the video. I’m a stutterer and I’m working on diaphragmatic speaking with a focus on vowels. Vowel intention helps stutterers from blocking on consonants.

You have a new subscriber. Keep it coming, Jay.
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One thought on “Is Singing Therapeutic?

  1. jaybeacham Post author

    Thanks for the video. I’m a stutterer and I’m working on diaphragmatic speaking with a focus on vowels. Vowel intention helps stutterers from blocking on consonants. 

    beja hadid

    You have a new subscriber. Keep it coming, Jay. 

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