Do I need to tell you how good it feels to sing? Like, really sing as if nobody is looking at you? Stick on a track, pump up the volume and go for it?
Singing is good for your health, mentally and physically. It boost those pesky feel-good hormones, pumps up your heart, makes you smile, makes you more mentally alert, boosts your immune system… really the question to ask is: why don’t we sing more?
I go to a brilliant church near where I live, and we’re lucky enough to have an incredibly talented organist. I mean, really, this man can improvise a fugue or a jazz riff at will, he is that good. We have traditional hymns and pop/rock worship songs at the same service. It doesn’t matter what sort we do, you can see the ones that boost people because at the end of the song, they’re smiling, bouncing and just look happier. A good song can do that for you. Churches are usually set up to encourage singing, because from ancient times the use of music, dance and vocals has been an important part of worship, probably because it does have such attractive effects on a person. If going to church/temple/shul makes you feel better, won’t you be much more likely to go back? Add to that the positive effects of silence and contemplation, and the perceived need for a secular ‘church’ for non-believers becomes more apparent. Mood boosters this good rarely happen in ordinary life.
Except at Christmas time, when PA systems around the world collaborate to pump out Slade, Wizzard and Shakin Stevens on a never ending loop. In Good Omens, Neil Gaiman jokes that all CDs left in the car eventually turn into Queen’s Greatest Hits. I wonder if all Christmas playlists don’t eventually just turn into Now That’s What I Call Christmas. The advantage is that you can’t say you don’t know the songs. The disadvantage is that…. even to the Die-Hardiest Christmas fan….. the same 20 songs on a loop do eventually get…. well, stale. That doesn’t stop me humming along ever, and if you are there when they play Sleigh Ride or Fairytale of New York, I warn you I don’t just hum, I sing.
For my proper Christmas Feel-Good Singing Boost, though, I like to join a carol singing group and go somewhere that needs a boost. In my youth, my brothers and I went around the local hospital, where my Dad worked, playing carols in the wards. On most wards you could pump out Good King Wenceslas or Hark the Herald full volume, but on ICT or near the neo natals, we were restricted to very quiet renditions of Away in a Manger or Silent Night, often quiet enough to hear the beep of the machines and the soft tears of relatives. Music has many emotions.
So, while there’s still time this year, why not get your music on, in private or public, for others or alone, and give your body a boost. And if you need any help, these are a few of the albums I find invaluable:
Kylie Christmas by Kylie Minogue
Christmas Cheers by Straight No Chaser
That’s Christmas To Me by The Pentatonix
A Christmas Cornucopia by Annie Lennox
And to get you in the mood:
More Christmas Cheer ideas are available in my Christmas book
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