I grew up singing in choirs. When I was eight years old, scouts from the Victorian Children’s Choir came to my primary school looking for new members. We all had to stand in rows in the hall and sing “Waltzing Matilda”. We were told if you felt a tap on your shoulder to stay behind when everyone had finished singing. I happily sang as I knew the words and enjoyed the song.
And then I felt a tap on my shoulder! I was given a yellow notice and excitedly showed it to my parents that night.
In a few weeks’ time my Dad drove me to a hall in Parkdale, half an hour away, where I would begin a three year adventure of training and performing with the Victorian Children’s Choir. I learnt how to read music, how to breathe properly, how to actively listen, how to follow a conductor and my favourite – harmonising. I got to attend music camps, learn a range of different songs and experience performing at many different venues around Melbourne.
There are many benefits to being part of a choir. My confidence grew. I was able to lead my school in singing Christmas carols at the local shopping centre, standing in front of everyone with a microphone. I was happy. When you are singing you release endorphins, the feel good hormones. It didn’t take me long to realise how singing made me feel good. And I felt a sense of belonging.
Humans have an instinctive need to belong. Maslow, using his hierarchy of needs, said that belonging is particularly important in childhood and is integral to our social and emotional wellbeing. Research shows that oxytocin, the hormone that relieves stress and anxiety and enhances feelings of trust and bonding, is released while singing.
So when I was given the opportunity to join a new school choir when I started secondary school you can understand why I signed up immediately
by Lauren Nilsson
Sounds Like This Teacher and Early Childhood Specialist