Although choirs may not have a glamorous reputation, they play a vital role in developing both your vocal skills and musical abilities. Whether you are an experienced singer or just starting, joining a choir or singing group can accelerate your growth in many areas including: ear training, vocal technique, repertoire and performance. Recent research has also highlighted the positive benefits of group singing on enhancing your physical and emotional health. This article explores why you should give group singing a serious consideration and how to locate a choir or singing group in your area.
Making a Strong Start
Many of the greatest singers of all time, both male and female, got their start by singing in choirs or in a group. This early exposure to singing with others helped them develop their vocal skills, hone their stage presence, and develop a deep understanding of the power of music to bring people together. Singing in a choir or group also allowed these artists to explore a wide range of musical genres and styles, which would later influence their own solo careers and shape the course of popular music. From Whitney Houston to Sam Cooke, these early experiences laid the foundation for some of the most iconic voices in music history.Click on any of your favourite singers below to find out more
Aretha was born into a musical family and began singing in her father’s church choir at a young age. Her father, Reverend C.L. Franklin, was a prominent Baptist minister and gospel singer who encouraged Aretha’s musical talents. Aretha began touring with her father’s gospel group, the Franklin Singers, and also sang in other church choirs.Aretha’s early experience singing in choirs and gospel groups helped shape her powerful and soulful singing style, which would later make her a legendary figure in the music industry. Throughout her career, Aretha continued to draw on her gospel roots, incorporating elements of gospel and soul music into her performances and recordings.
Styles auditioned as a solo artist for the British television show “The X Factor” in 2010, but was eliminated before the final round of auditions. However, he was invited back to join a newly formed boy band that was put together by the show’s producers, along with Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Liam Payne, and Louis Tomlinson.The group, called One Direction, quickly became popular with their performances on “The X Factor” and gained a huge following of fans, known as “Directioners.” One Direction released their debut album, “Up All Night,” in 2011, which was a commercial success and launched the band to international fame. They went on to release four more albums and became one of the biggest boy bands in history, before going on hiatus in 2016.After One Direction went on hiatus, Harry Styles launched a successful solo career, releasing his debut album in 2017 and achieving critical and commercial success with hits like “Sign of the Times” and “Watermelon Sugar.”
Beyoncé started her music career as a member of the girl group Destiny’s Child, which became one of the best-selling girl groups of all time.
Michael Jackson started his career as a member of the Jackson 5, which was formed by his father and achieved success with hits like “ABC” and “I Want You Back.”
nds from high school. The band initially played a mix of ska, punk, and reggae, and gained a local following with their energetic live performances. No Doubt released their debut album in 1992, but it wasn’t until their third album, “Tragic Kingdom,” that they achieved mainstream success with hits like “Don’t Speak” and “Just a Girl.”Gwen’s distinctive voice and style quickly made her a recognizable figure in the music industry, and she went on to achieve success as a solo artist as well. However, it was her work with No Doubt that launched her music career and established her as one of the most influential female artists of the 1990s and 2000s.
Alicia began playing piano at a young age and was enrolled in professional music training programs by the time she was a teenager. Keys was classically trained and also sang in the choir at her church in New York City.As a teenager, Keys began writing and producing her own music and was eventually signed to a record deal as a solo artist. Her debut album, “Songs in A Minor,” was released in 2001 and was a critical and commercial success, winning several Grammy Awards.While Keys’ career was launched as a solo artist, her early experiences singing in a choir and church setting undoubtedly had a significant impact on her musical style and approach. Her music often blends elements of soul, gospel, and R&B, and her powerful vocals and piano skills have made her one of the most respected and successful artists of her generation.
Houston grew up in a musical family and began singing in the choir at her church in Newark, New Jersey at a young age. She was soon recognized for her incredible vocal abilities and began performing at local talent shows and in community theater productions.Houston’s career took off in the 1980s when she was signed to a record deal and released her debut album, “Whitney Houston,” in 1985. The album was a massive success, spawning hit singles like “Saving All My Love for You” and “How Will I Know.” Houston’s powerful voice and undeniable talent quickly made her a superstar, and she went on to become one of the most successful and influential artists of all time.While Houston’s success can be attributed to a number of factors, including her incredible vocal range and her ability to cross over into multiple genres, her early experiences singing in the church choir undoubtedly played a significant role in shaping her musical style and approach. Houston’s music often incorporated elements of gospel and soul, and her powerful voice and emotional delivery made her an unforgettable performer.
Cooke began singing in the choir at his church in Chicago at a young age and quickly gained recognition for his powerful voice and dynamic stage presence. He was soon discovered by record producer Bumps Blackwell, who signed him to a recording contract and helped him launch his career as a solo artist.Cooke’s music drew on a wide range of influences, including gospel, R&B, and pop, and he quickly became known for his smooth, soulful sound and his ability to connect with audiences on a deep emotional level. He scored numerous hit songs throughout the 1950s and 1960s, including “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang,” and “Wonderful World.”Cooke’s influence on popular music cannot be overstated. He helped pioneer the soul music genre and paved the way for countless artists who followed in his footsteps. His powerful voice and innovative approach to songwriting and production continue to inspire musicians to this day.
Building your skills
If you’re serious about improving your singing, a combination of private and group instruction may be the most effective approach. While private lessons offer individualized attention and personalized feedback, group settings such as choirs and ensembles provide a unique opportunity for singers to develop their skills in collaboration with others. Here are just 5 benefits to singing in a group.
1. Build your voice
Singing in a choir is a powerful learning opportunity that is difficult to replicate on your own. In a group setting, you are surrounded by like-minded individuals committed to improving their singing abilities, making it an environment of constant learning where questions can be asked and knowledge shared. Moreover, group singing provides the opportunity to learn by imitation, observe and learn from other singers’ techniques, tone, and phrasing. This process of learning by imitation can help beginners to develop their unique style while also blending in with the rest of the choir. Singing in a choir can also help to improve your overall tone, sense of pitch, and rhythm while getting feedback from other members
2. Build your confidence
Choir singing can be a powerful tool in building confidence. Being part of a choir means performing in front of others and receiving feedback, which can help you to develop your skills and overcome stage fright. As you improve and become more comfortable with singing in front of others, you may find that your overall confidence levels improve as well. Additionally, being part of a supportive and encouraging group can provide a sense of belonging and boost your self-esteem, both on and off the stage.
3. Build your well-being
Singing in a choir can significantly boost your overall well-being – mind, body and soul. Being part of a choir can make you feel more connected to others and give you a sense of belonging, ultimately leading to increased self-esteem and mood. Physically, choir singing can reduce the stress hormone (cortisol) and increase the comforting hormone (oxytocin), resulting in reduced stress levels and improved mental health. Singing in a choir is also a form of exercise that has been shown to improve respiratory function and cardiovascular health. Choir singing provides an opportunity to improve both your physical and mental health while enjoying the pleasure of creating music with others.
4. Build your social skills
Singing together in a choir can break down barriers and create a sense of connection among people. Differences between choir members, such as race, religion, and socio-economic status, become less important as people focus on the shared experience of singing together. In today’s divided world, where people often feel isolated and disconnected, choir singing can provide a powerful way to connect through shared love of music, breaking down barriers and building bridges between individuals and communities. By singing together, people can form close bonds and lasting friendships that extend beyond the choir rehearsals and performances, leading to exposure to different cultures and lifestyles, broadening perspectives and helping to become more open-minded and empathetic.
5. Build your musicianship
In addition to the benefits for social connection and well-being, singing in a choir can also help to build musical skills. Choirs typically focus on developing pitch accuracy, rhythm, and harmonization skills. Singers in a choir learn to read music and follow a conductor, which can greatly improve their ability to learn and perform music. They are also exposed to a wide variety of music genres, which helps them expand their musical knowledge and appreciation.
Moreover, choir members learn to sing expressively, exploring dynamics and phrasing to bring out the emotion and meaning of the music. They are encouraged to experiment with different vocal techniques to find the most effective way to convey the music’s message. All of these skills contribute to a well-rounded musician who can not only sing in a choir but also perform as a soloist or in other musical contexts.
Finding a group
If you’re searching for a singing group to join, some strategies might help you locate a choir in your area.
- Online search:Do an online search using keywords like “choir,” “singing group,” or “vocal ensemble” along with the name of your city or region.
- Directories: Some community members with an interest in choirs provide a list of groups in your area, like this extensive list of the choirs in Melbourne, Australia. Alternatively, your local council or local government may list music groups rehearsing in your city.
- Live Music and Music Festivals:Look for concerts, music festivals, and live music gigs attending live music local music events or concerts and speaking with performers or organizers.
- Get out and about: check with local music schools, churches, and community centers, as many of them have choirs or can provide information on nearby groups.
- Social media platforms like Facebook and Meetup often have groups dedicated to choir and singing enthusiasts that can be a great resource for finding local singing groups.
- Start your own group: When all else fails and you can find a group, consider starting a group yourself. Remember, starting a group doesn’t mean you have to lead the group.
In conclusion, singing in a choir or singing group can have many benefits for your vocal skills, musical abilities, confidence, well-being, social skills, teamwork skills, and musicianship. It can also be a fun and rewarding way to connect with others who share your love of music. If you’re interested in joining a group, use the strategies above to locate one in your area, or consider starting one yourself.
For those who want to know more...
- Bailey, B. A., & Davidson, J. W. (2009). Amateur group singing as a therapeutic instrument. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 18(1), 18-32. https://doi.org/10.1080/08098130903061827
- ChoirPlayer. (n.d.). 5 reasons why you should join a choir today. Retrieved from here
- Clift, S., Hancox, G., Morrison, I., Hess, B., & Stewart, D. (2013). Choral singing and psychological wellbeing: Quantitative and qualitative findings from English choirs in a cross-national survey. Journal of Applied Arts & Health, 4(1), 19-34. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735612471237
- Rajkumar, R., & Kumar, S. (2019). Effect of group singing interventions on anxiety, depression, and quality of life in psychiatric patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 28(1), 63-80. https://doi.org/10.1080/14794713.2018.1558807
- University of Oxford. (2015, December 10). Choir singing improves health, happiness – and is the perfect icebreaker. Retrieved from here
- Van der Waerden, J., Finlayson, K. W., Bonetti, S., & Hodges, N. J. (2020). The impact of group singing on social connectedness in elite military recruits. Psychology of Music, 48(6), 774–787. https://doi.org/10.1177/0305735620940019