Expert Advice: Benefits of Singing in Retirement
Community choirs are often the heart of a village or town. They’re places for local residents to congregate, make new friends and improve their singing skills. Although community choirs are popular all year-round, they become particularly busy at Christmas, when there is more desire for people to sing Christmas songs, go carolling and put on Christmas shows.
Here at McCarthy Stone, we hold regular singing events across our developments. Ever since 2017, we’ve brought community and school choirs into our developments to raise funds for the Royal Voluntary Service and to raise awareness about how singing can bring benefits to the mental and physical wellbeing of older people.
Singing in later life can improve both physical and mental health. But, not only can singing bring a number of health benefits to retirees but singing is also a great way to have fun and live a happier, healthier life.
To look more closely at the health benefits of singing in retirement, we spoke to an expert.
The Benefits of Singing in a Choir: The Expert View
When did you discover the joy of singing?
I was beyond chuffed when I was chosen to play a solo singing part in the school production, where I had to lay on the grand piano as the villain!
“Singing is accessible for everyone, including all ages, abilities and backgrounds.”
All other lunchtimes when the choir wasn't on, I could usually be found practising the songs with a few friends in the playground (I've got a feeling I was trying to lead even then).
My love of harmonies really shone after going to my first arena concert, where I saw Stevie Wonder. His musical presence, talent and pure passion had such an impact on me at that young age and I knew from then I wanted to pursue music in my life in any way I could.
Is singing accessible for everyone?
Singing is accessible for everyone, including all ages, abilities and backgrounds. Most people love to sing in the shower or car, belting out their favourite choruses. The change in mood this can create can be magical. I hear so many people tell me “oh, I can't sing”, but they can!
While not everyone will have a voice that can sell out arenas, that doesn't mean they ‘can’t sing’. Obviously if you're not very confident, then a solo at a karaoke session wouldn't be the best start, but you can grab a friend for support or join a group of like-minded people who want to sing at a community choir.
What advice would you give to someone who is reluctant to sing?
My advice to someone reluctant to sing would be my usual Choir Director motto ‘sing loud and proud, strong and wrong’.
“For those in retirement, singing with others can create moments of togetherness where new friendships are formed.”
What are the main health and wellbeing benefits of singing?
Singing within a group can also help you feel part of a team. Many of my choir singers start the rehearsal after a bad day yet leave bouncing on a high. They often tell me that they wish they could bottle the feeling!
Loneliness is also a big issue nowadays, as McCarthy Stone has previously highlighted. For those in retirement, singing with others can create moments of togetherness where new friendships are formed.
What are your favourite songs to sing and why?
I love and adore harmonies; the richer the better. Whether it be pop, jazz or classical, the sound of voices passionately singing in close harmony is like nothing else.
I love the 70s sounds of Earth, Wind & Fire, the choral works of John Rutter and the enormity of a big power ballad or soft rock song. For me, my pleasure comes mostly in seeing the pleasure others get when perfecting a song they've been learning and receiving a big applause from the audience.
What ways can people with a casual interest in singing take it to the next level?
I would suggest joining a community choir to everyone! They're all different in music choice, commitment, teaching style, formality and size, so anyone will find somewhere to suit them.
“Family and friends also benefit, as they come along to the concerts, watch the singers grow and be in their ‘happy place’.”
I also like to offer as many opportunities as possible, including touring and competing abroad, recording albums, performing on stage and running workshops with established singers.
Some singers sign up for everything going and others just attend when they can. Family and friends also benefit, as they come along to the concerts, watch the singers grow and be in their ‘happy place’.
Christmas Choirs at McCarthy Stone
Remember that our retirement developments will be hosting choir sessions over the Christmas period and beyond, so if you’re a resident watch out for notices in your development and ask your House Manager if you have any questions.
We also wrote a guide looking at the benefits of staying fit post retirement.