Break Out Into Song!
If you ever have the desire to break out into song — in the shower, in the car, maybe at your neighbor's infamous karaoke night — you should embrace it whole-heartedly. This ancient art not only feels good, it can enhance your well-being, reduce your feelings of pain and even prolong your life.
Using your voice to sing, rather than simply carry out a conversation, offers unique benefits. "When we sing instead of speak, we have intonation, melody line, and crescendo, which gives us a broader vocabulary to express ourselves," says Suzanne Hanser, chair of the music therapy department at Berklee College of Music. "Because singing is visceral (relating to, or affecting, our bodies), it can't help but effect change."
Studies have linked singing with a lower heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and reduced stress, according to Patricia Preston-Roberts, a board-certified music therapist in New York City. She uses song to help patients who suffer from a variety of psychological and physiological conditions. "Some people who have been traumatized often want to leave the physical body, and using the voice helps ground them to their bodies," Preston-Roberts says. "Singing also seems to block a lot of the neural pathways that pain travels through."
I think it comes naturally for myself. Many times I will enter a space where other people are working and they ask me what I am singing. I actually have no answer because my “internal song machine” is going 24-hours – sort of like “Hylton muzak”!
Mom Hylton is 83 and living in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. She is at the stage of her disease where she does not recognize us anymore. Music has always been a part of her life — singing, playing the piano, ringing handbells, and always making sure I practiced the organ or piano at least an hour a day when I was living at home. The nursing home keeps music playing in her room at our request because we know that her heart is still singing.
Chreanne Montgomery-Smith of the Alzheimer's Society founded Singing for the Brain, a singing group for those with dementia, memory problems or Alzheimer's disease. "We do have quite an avid following in the group that we have. Families believe it has enhanced their lives and in some ways it has kept people well longer. People who have constant memory problems are so undermined by this, but somehow the memory for singing is preserved for ever in the brain and it gives people a lift when they can remember things," Montgomery-Smith says. The part of the brain that works with speech is different than the part that processes music, which is what allows people who can no longer converse to still enjoy music, said Clive Ballard, director of research at the Alzheimer's Society and professor of age-related diseases at King's College, London.
My Grandma Lemon used to tell me that “when you sing, you chase away the devil”. She would tell me that the devil hated to hear our voices singing to God! So I sang a lot! Is it any wonder that one of the greatest wars in our churches has been over music? I hear people make comments about what they like and don't like. I have my preferences too, but the point of singing is not to please me. The point is that it's an offering of our hearts to God. When we sing to the Lord, we are bringing Him an offering that is unique and, I also believe, powerful!
Whether you can carry a tune or not is not an issue. It is your heart that God hears. It is your song of love and praise that cuts through the darkness that tries to settle on you. It is your song that breaks through the heavens and settles at home with God. It is your song that draws the attention of the angels to come and assist you. And it is your song that causes the enemy to shrink back and withdraw from you, because more than anything else, he hates to hear you sing to the Lord.
So I pray that today, you will sing to the Lord a new song. Just cut loose and sing! Sing with all your heart. Sing in the middle of your storm. Sing in the middle of your trial. Sing until the Light breaks through. Who knows, you may have a host of angels singing right along with you. What an awesome sound that will be!