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The Joy of Group Singing

by Heather Parker(more info)

listed in sound and music, originally published in issue 171 - June 2010

When I first did singing on my sound healing training course I was suddenly struck by a number of things. This was unlike any other kind of singing I had done before; I had sung in a number of choirs back in schools and at college - so why was this different? It was all about sharing. A sharing of love. When you vocalize in a group, especially if you are singing sacred chants, it takes you back to a place you have long since forgotten - that sense of community, of sharing something wonderful with others. You often find yourself looking around the group and smiling at everyone. If you think back to Victorian times when there was little else to do but entertain themselves, what would they do to while away the evenings? They would either play the piano or sing - or very often, do both! We have since lost the impetus of wanting to sing. The entertainment is all in front of us in the form of a box which we sit religiously in front of, day in and day out. Isn't it time that we got back to the 'old ways' and did something different for a change?

Singing in a church


Let's not forget that singing is really good for you. If you sing it lowers your blood pressure. There have been studies done on people who sing in choirs who have less diseases and illnesses because they are free to express themselves; even if they are singing a particular piece and it is controlled and conducted, they are still doing themselves a great deal of good.

Singing gives you that 'feel good' factor. It will produce 'happy endorphins' which help you feel alive when you are singing. Dr Tomatis discovered the power of chanting after visiting a monastery in France. The new Abbot had stopped the monks chanting. Benedictine monks normally chant for six to eight hours a day. The abbot believed that the chant served no useful purpose and that without it they could utilize that time for other things.

The monks had been using the chants to 're-charge themselves' but hadn't realized it. As the days passed they became more and more tired. A procession of doctors came to the monastery. They changed the monks' diet and sleep patterns, but the monks became more tired than ever.

When the Abbot called in Dr Tomatis in February 1967, he found 70 out of the 90 monks "slumping in their cells like wet dishrags". He reintroduced their chanting immediately. By November, almost all of them had gone back to their normal activities: their prayer, their few hours of sleep, and their arduous work schedule.[1]

The Mazrt Effect book cover


Also, if you are singing in front of an audience, their response when the performance is finished will give you an immediate rush that makes you feel quite amazing. I remember suffering post performance blues when I was younger whereby I experienced such euphoria of a performance, that the next couple of days afterwards it was like I was coming down slowly and it took a while to get my mood back up again. Well, there's an antidote to this problem. Don't stop singing! Always do a little everyday. Even if it's in the shower or in the car, you'll find it will help you feel better and you'll get more confident in doing it. 

So why is it so good for you? Dr Tomatis said, "toning is defined as – 'to make sound with an elongated vowel for an extended period'. Toning with other people creates a feeling of unity. It also helps us to release stress and repressed emotions. Regular toning and humming helps to re-energize the body and restore health to the mind, body and spirit."

Toning has a neurochemical effect on the body, boosting the immune system and causing the release of endorphins. Toning assists in good breathing and posture. The muscles of the digestive system are massaged and stimulated by regular toning. Toning has also been effective in relieving insomnia.[2] It opens up your lungs and allows more oxygen to come into your body.

A Japanese scientist, Masaru Emoto, wanted to find a way of scientifically evaluating water quality. He decided to freeze samples of water taken from different sources to compare their crystalline structure. When pure water crystallizes it forms a pure crystal; would contaminated water also form a pure crystal?

crystalline structure


Over a four-year period his team took 10,000 photographs. Tap water from Japanese cities generally would not form complete crystals. Tap water from London formed no crystals at all. Spring water generally produced the most beautiful crystals, as did water from holy places

Masaru Emoto's next experiment was playing music to water. He placed distilled water in between two speakers and played one piece of music fully at normal volume. Then he froze the water. Classical music produced beautiful crystals of slightly different colours. Healing music, a Tibetan mantra and folk music also produced beautiful crystals. Heavy metal music produced a pattern that looked like a crystal that had exploded into a thousand pieces. Japanese pop music produced ugly square-shaped crystals rather then the normal hexagonal ones.[3]

The Secret Life of Water book cover


The human body is ca 70% water. Masaru Emoto's work demonstrates how we're constantly being influenced by the sounds we hear around us, and how the water we drink has also been influenced. You can help to purify your water by singing positive words to it or blessing it before it is consumed.

To return back to group chanting sessions – these are designed with meditation in mind. The chants allow you to create a central sense of peace which is often experienced by people who do yoga or who meditate regularly. The chants will also connect you to the divine energy. In my sessions I use Sanskrit, Native American as well as pagan chants. The Sanskrit chants are often the most beautiful and the language is so sacred and powerful it really does give you an instant connection to the universal energy source. The Native American chants are fantastic and great fun and will fill your body with energy. Some of these will also feel very sacred when you sing them. The pagan ones are all about feeling a connection to the elements that surround us. If you can't get outside to connect, then do it from the inside. Singing about the earth, air, fire water and the ether is a truly powerful way to connect you to the earth and all its magical properties.

If you chant in a group you'll experience another amazing gift. At the beginning of this article I mentioned it was all about sharing – sharing of love and of harmony. If you sing your chants with love for yourself and for the group, then this really is the most powerful way of singing there is. It is a mutual giving and receiving of love though the power of sound. What better way to share an hour or two? If you like that idea then you'll also love being part of a 'Sound Bath'. This is when you are immersed in beautiful sounds from the group who sing powerful and positive affirmations into your body. It can be a very moving and emotionally releasing experience. Not to be missed. 

The best way to experience this joy of group singing is to try it for yourself. Start up with a local group and just give it a try. You'll never know what you've been missing out on. Finally, enjoy each day as if it were your last and 'Live in Bliss!'

References:

1. Wilson Tim. Chant the Healing Powers of Voice and Ear. in Campbell Don ed. Music: Physician for Times to Come. Quest Books. Illinois. pp12-14. ISBN 0-8356-0668-6. 1991.
2. Campbell Don. The Mozart Effect. Avon Books. New York. pp92-93.. ISBN 0-380-97418-5. 1997.
3. Emoto Masaru. The Message from Water. HADO Kyoikusha. Tokyo. ISBN 4-939098-00-1. 1999.

Further Reading on PH Online

The Mozart Effect by Don Campbell is reviewed on PH Online www.positivehealth.com/book-view.php?reviewid=93  
Editorial features explaining Tomatis Therapy are featured on PH Online:
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=2437  
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=245  
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=216  
Editorial features discussing Emoto Masaru's research with water and crystals is featured on PH Online:
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=231  
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=1948  
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=1517  
www.positivehealth.com/article-view.php?articleid=1948

 

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About Heather Parker

Heather Parker BA Hons first encountered sound at an early age and studied music and drama in Liverpool to gain her BA Hons in 1996. Her love for music continued and she used her skills to teach Medau exercise classes between 2002-7. In 2006 she began her training on Simon Heather's course to become a sound healer. Simon created his own college - The College of Sound Healing and has a wealth of experience, teaching up and down the country as well as taking his knowledge abroad. Heather now runs her own voice and sound workshops as well as monthly chanting and toning and sound bath sessions. Heather may be contacted on markheather@fsmail.net  www.collegeofsoundhealing.co.uk  www.isissounds.weebly.com  

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