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Would you consider singing as an alternative to medication?

At the recent Cheltenham Science Festival, Dr Simon Opher, a Gloucestershire based GP urged fellow doctors to prescribe singing instead of drugs.

Dr Opher is convinced that singing has a wide range of health and social benefits and says that his patients see him less if they join a singing group or choir.

“With dementia there is some evidence that when we sing an area of our brain gets more blood flow and they are the ones that are usually preserved in dementia,” Dr Opher said.

“You can be deeply affected when you hear certain songs, and that feeling is really important.  It awakens people suffering from dementia; it makes them feel more involved.”

Dr Opher said that research shows that singing can also help people with Parkinson’s because it improves the loudness of their voice, which can be weakened by the disease.

“There are lots of adaptations and perhaps we are only touching the surface of getting into other areas of disease that we can help people with.”

“As a doctor, I believe it is so important to persuade the medical profession of the benefit of music and singing.  These types of remedies can make a patient better in lots of generalised ways, as well as more specifically with dementia and breathing.”

“It’s not a panacea and it can really help.”

Dr Daisy Fancourt, a senior research fellow at UCL, is in agreement.  A link between the arts and health is proven to be beneficial and singing, in particular, has been shown to help improve heart rate, blood pressure, mood and depression.

“Over the last couple of decades we’ve started to have real scientific evidence about how and why singing can have these health benefits,” she said.

“Singing has multiple benefits.  It involves emotional expression and regulation, which we know is good for mental health.  It can help us to get out of the house which is good for our physical health and can provide social interaction too.”

“The best thing about singing as a health intervention is that it is fun!”

Dr Fancourt went on to say that attending musical concerts also has a positive effect on health.

“There was almost the same biological reduction in stress from classical music concerts as from rock concerts, which might sound strange but underlines the contextual factor that going to concerts is often a relaxing activity regardless of the genre,” she added.

Do you have any experience of group singing?  Does it make you feel good when you sing?  Would you be happy to use it as a replacement for medication?

Would you consider singing as an alternative to medication?

184 people have already voted, what's your opinion? Yes No

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Collie
1st Jul 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
I agree would love to take up "singing". I am on the lookout for a group to join. I think they . heard my voice and are hiding, Not giving up,

Anxiety and low mood is my problem so I know it would help.
SueC62
12th Jul 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Try Rock Choir. It's for everyone, regardless of ability. You don't audition. You go along for a free taster session and then it's up to you whether you join or not.
Collie
13th Jul 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Will certainly look into that SueC62, thank you for the reference.
sparrer
29th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I have copd and heart disease, and have stayed fitter through singing than by taking too many prescription drugs. Singing is wonderful exercise for the lungs and improves the mood. It is well known that singing also helps the memory which is why many organisations for people with dementia/alzheimers have singing sessions for their clients, so a double benefit. Not sure my neighbours always approve though!
LyndaR5
28th Jun 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Not sure singing would cure my rheumatoid arthritis. I'll stick to the meds.
SueC62
28th Jun 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
It's absolutely good for both mental and physical health. I'm in a choir and we do breathing exercises which help expand the lungs for those long notes.
Judith358
20th Jun 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
I think singing can be very therapeutic, I would consider singing but would feel sorry for anyone within earshot, I never could sing and since having a thyroidectomy 15 or so years ago I am even worse! I only sing when I am alone in the car.
jeanmark
19th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
The question is too general as many chronic conditions require medication. I agree it is good therapy for certain conditions but will not replace medication for a large number of diseases.
Yodama
19th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Singing is uplifting and being part of a choir who meet and sing regularly is something to look forward to... so yes it could be a panacea for low moods.
Of course deep depression would need medication.
GlennisG1
19th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Have always sung in choirs ,
Agree it is very therapeutic and social
gillian Stan
18th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Where do i go to join a singing group
SueC62
28th Jun 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Google Rock Choir, there will probably be a group near you. It is a commercial venture so there is a fee per term (fits in with school terms) but you can get a taster session for free. The songs are more pop than rock. Eg, last term we learnt Roar, Africa and Dreams.
Weddingbelle
12th Jul 2019
0
Thanks for voting!
Another vote for Rock Choir. Our choir is really friendly and the leaders are great.
DipsyDitsy
17th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
I was told by an older woman to sing if there is no-one with whom to talk.
granmabones
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
Yes anything that brings people together is good, it lifts the spirit may not diseases but gives people a sense of belonging.. If you are alone you tend to dwell on minor symptoms and imagine a lot of " what it could be". If you have something to look forward to together with company you feel healthier, laughing is the best medicine.
AnnH57
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I sing every fortnight with a group ,not serious it's singing for fun, but yes I defiantly feel better all round afterwards. I'd recommend it.
Retiredyorkie
17th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
If that what some people enjoy doing go for it, but its just not for me .
Margaret Hart
17th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
I believe it is a good idea together with medication for all dementia type conditions and in some psychotic cases.
Wilf
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
Lots of my friends are in choirs and they all seem well and it is a great sense of community. I am not sure it cures you of aliments though.
Yagala
17th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
I would like to try anything that does not include medications from a laboratory as I am already using natural medications for a long time when I suffer an illness any time and I do feel very well with using them all these years. but has it been proved that singing is beneficial to an illness? Or is it just the thought and movements of the body that does the healing to the illness in that body?
Lionel
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
Could it be just making the effort for these people gladdens the heart? Isn't a happy disposition, even for a while, therapeutic? I think so.
CiaoP
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I totally agree with the findings in this article.
As it happens, I play in a duo that has a lot of care home engagements where
many of the residents have various incapacities inc Alzheimers&dementia.
We notice that on certain songs(usually from 40s 50s 60s there is a marked change in the countence of these residents and we notice too that previously silent they will sing and/or mouth the lyrics..it's very uplifting for them AND us.
We don't actually do Reminiscing Therapy,merely sing songs that most older people remember.
I'm 71next birthday&my playing buddy is 68 so our combined repertoire is fairly extensive.
Just thought I'd share this to anyone who can sing&play an instrument and who would like to help others...there are probably many carehomes in your area who would be happy to book you..btw even singing along with CD backing tracks is fine..the main thing is to be seen actually singing,as that in itself is pretty contagious.
Your local authority would have lists of homes that you could trawl through..just ring them up and take it from there..many homes have activities staff,something you could mention on 1st phone call.

Peter (CiaoP)
Lionel
17th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I cannot disagree with these people who know better than I. However ...

From age 9 to 14 I was a cathedral standard chorister in London. We sang all over the country and made recordings for the BBC. Suddenly, one Sunday morning my voice broke and to this day, fifty four years on, I sound like a bull frog on heat!

For so many years any attempt at singing on my part has resulted in, 'oh, shut up!'

Maybe the sheer comedy of hearing me croak would amuse some dementia suffers, I'd truly like to think so. It wouldn't be Vera Lynn on steroids, no, more like Arthur Askey being stung in the rump by a swarm of his busy, busy bees.
CiaoP
17th Jun 2019
1
Thanks for voting!
Hi Lionel..just read your amusing comment.
Have you thought of sticking with baritone? ..a la Paul Robeson songs..Lee Marvin..they'd love I was born under a Wandering Star.! Jim Reeves..or even better, Mario Lanza(taken down a pitch) Honestly I'm sure you would bring a lot of people a lot of pleasure.
I too was a choirboy for a time,singing in Latin&English.
I imagine being a chorister you attained a high standard back then in London?
I encouraged people in my comment who could sing and play an instrument to seek out carehomes in their vicinity..
of course solo singing is a thing in itself(I need my guitar to hide behind as well as for accompaniment!)
I think you would be pleasantly surprised by the reception you would get.
Plus you can earn £30-40 for an hour..though you may decide to do it for free which is fine.
Anyway good luck with your musical endeavours
Regards
Peter
Lionel
17th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
Ah, those days as a chorister. It sounds as if you too were in a 'smells and bells' church singing in Latin. Did it at school as well, though today barely a word comes to mind. Much prefer Hebrew, but even that's rusty.

My wife was a music school trained semi professional contralto for many years. She's spent much of the last two decades trying to train my voice but we usually end up in giggles of hopelessness. On the plus side, my voice may be very gruff face to face but on the telephone it is, apparently, smooth, cultivated and silky. (Not my words!)

Yes, I've done many an appearance at care homes, but not singing. Usually offering a few old jokes (clean ones only) and walking among the audience making them feel special. 'A regimental tie, sir?' and they pour it all out. 'Oh, my dear, how like Vera Lynn you look, or Gracie Fields but seldom Arthur Askey or Charles Laughton. Christmas services were always the best, seeing their faces light up with floods of memories. Usually I got the Bible reading job. The meet and greet afterwards over a cup of tea was always, for me, a pleasure ... so many smiles, so many memories never to be recorded.

Keep up the good work.
CaroleAH
16th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I'm a member of my local U3A Singing for Fun group and enjoy going twice a month to learn new songs and sing some of the songs that we all think we know well until confronted with the music and singing in parts! 🙂 I cannot read music so it can be a challenge sometimes but the emphasis is on the "fun" and we all come away after our 90 minutes session feeling good.
I agree with LanceFogg that singing cannot be regarded as a cure for dementia but singing is good for us and if it awakens memories and makes us happy then surely that is better than taking a tablet.
LanceFogg
16th Jun 2019
3
Thanks for voting!
I have to dispute the theory that singing can be an effective treatmen for dementia. My wife was diagnosed with LBD - that's Lewy Body Dementia - last year yet was a professional singer for a considerable numbers of years including as part of a duo and a band with myself.
Yes, singing can be viewed as a theraputic pastime but I don't think there is enough evidence it can cure. I rather think that it is an example of the placebo effect.
I think the question is irrelevant.
Felix1
16th Jun 2019
2
Thanks for voting!
I have seen dementia patients singing together, it really brought them alive.
As for myself, having hearing problems from birth, singing in public is a no no, but at home when bored I will sing out loud and generally feel quite cheered up.

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