There’s no denying the positive correlation between singing and wellbeing, especially when practiced or performed in a group.
Having supported tens of thousands of girls’ journeys at the Australian Girls Choir, we have seen first-hand what the research suggests – that singing in a choir helps foster the development of social connection and social identity. At a time where children and young people are faced with the many challenges of growing up, increasing technology pressures and mental health struggles, we shed light on how singing in a choir can contribute to enhanced wellbeing.
The science behind why singing makes us happy
Much like exercise, the act of singing releases neurochemicals such as β-endorphin, dopamine and serotonin – the body’s positive “feel good” chemicals, which is why many people turn to music as their creative outlet. When AGC choristers come together to sing every week, they are able to share in the joy and pleasure that singing evokes physiologically with other like-minded girls, creating a platform to build meaningful friendships.
“We want her to pursue experiences that fuel a sense of joy, of connection; we want her to know how to recognise and pursue experiences and places that make her feel inspired, proud and happy, in her heart and in her nervous system; places that are safe and respectful and led with kindness. The Australian Girls Choir does all of these things and more.” – VIC Parent
In addition to the release of endorphins, group singing has been found to increase oxytocin levels, promoting stress regulation and mood elevation. This translates into AGC being a natural respite from schooling pressures, while also keeping the mind and body active.
“With all the ups and downs of the high school experience AGC offers her a creative, positive space where she can release pressure and embrace her love of singing with her friends.” – NSW Parent
Choir for social connection
Current choristers and AGC Alumni members often reflect on the lifelong friendships that the AGC helps foster. These friendships are built on the foundations of a nurturing environment that encourages girls to uplift each other and grow into the best versions of themselves. By striving towards a common goal like our Winter Showcase Concert or end-of-year Annual Concert, the girls have the opportunity to cultivate teamwork skills by working together on learning new repertoire and choreography, all while developing their singing, dance, musicianship and performance skills along the way.
“AGC provides a space for young girls to witness and build positive female friendships – a space to build each other up and celebrate the achievements of their peers. This is a powerful standard that creates a strong foundation for our girls’ future engagement with fellow women.” – Brittany Pearce, ACT Parent
With a focus on role modelling and mentoring, the AGC encourages girls to support each other on this journey of self-development, rather than compete in a way that participation in sports may encourage. Common themes of “belonging” and “togetherness” are shared across the AGC, with choristers using the structure of the choir to affirm friendships outside of school. This supports the research that has found choral singers to consider their choirs to be a more ‘meaningful’ social group compared to the way team players consider their sporting teams (Lonsdale and Day, 2021).
“I think by far the best reason to enrol my daughter has been the friendships she has made along the way, the role models she has learned from and her positive and mutually respectful relationships with the incredible staff.” – Claudine Tinellis, NSW Parent
Choir for social identity
Participation in high-quality singing activities, like the AGC’s dynamic curriculum, has been found to have a positive effect on self-esteem and social identity in young children. Since the pandemic, Australia has seen a reported rise in mental health problems in young people, creating the need for spaces that support the personal development of the next generation. The AGC provides that space for girls to build their confidence by finding their voice and importantly, empowering them with the courage to use it.
“My grand-daughter was really struggling with her mental health and was struggling to express herself and her emotions…The choir has helped her blossom and has provided a safe environment for her to express her emotions through song, dance, drama and creativity.” – VIC Parent
Having worked with young girls since 1984, we know that the importance of being accepted is a high priority for young girls. We also know that having the opportunity to regularly sing with other girls who share that same passion for song leads to a sense of belonging, which is why you’ll hear us proudly comment on the AGC as being about “singing and so much more.”