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Singing as medicine and breaking the social gridlock

Singing as medicine and breaking the social gridlock

Singing with others triggers the production of feel-good hormones, while it can enhance feelings of connection. “Singing is an untapped resource in healthcare,” says Victoria Folkson, leader of the Wellbeing Choir.

Singing has been shown to have a number of health-promoting effects, such as lowering the stress hormone cortisol in the body, improving memory and lung capacity and stimulating the body’s immune system.

But by singing with others, the positive effects are even greater. Choral singing also stimulates mental health. In addition to being socially stimulating, several studies have shown that choral singing triggers the production of feel-good hormones.

Chemistry and signaling materials

-You may think it’s magic, but to me it’s pure logic. It’s all about chemistry and sign material, says Victoria Folkson, choir leader and district nurse.

I just settled down behind the piano. Small talk and the shoveling of chairs rise to the height of the grand ceiling at Malmö Live’s Irisrummet, as members of the Wellbeing Choir arrive. Started in 2022, at the initiative of the primary care center in Skåne, the choir targets people who were previously in contact with care due to mental illness.

From Haas and Tag to Miss Lee

While Victoria Folkson guides participants through some warm-up exercises, some extremists offer themselves text booklets next to the piano. There’s everything from Hasse and Tage to Miss Li on the list. The songs are largely the wishes of the choir members.

-The songs that are chosen the most are often lively and upbeat. But the way we make it is simple and indulgent. The important thing is that those who come here feel seen, both as individuals and as a group, says Victoria Folkson.

Anger turns into calm

Her entry into music was the result of an emotional need. By using song in meetings with patients, I discovered how it could function as a tool. But after several years working as a district nurse, she decided to take a choir training course.

– For people with dementia, care can be seen as scary or difficult to understand. But if you sit down, hold the person’s hands, and sing or hum, the anger may turn into calm. She says the patient becomes safe and the care setting is also easier.

But the building in which the Welfare Choir resides is far from welcoming patients and the members are in very different places in life.

-I always leave here with a smile. “The choir is like a lucky pill for me,” explains participant Agnetha Netzel.

Singing is a medicine against loneliness

Choral singing in particular has proven to be a way to break loneliness and feelings of exclusion. The release of endorphins, which contribute to positive emotions, is seen in research as an important part of the explanation.

We all find it difficult to put our feelings into words sometimes, and music has the ability to express feelings. The song takes no shortcuts. “It activates and strengthens something in us when we sing together,” says Victoria Folkson.

The whole person, the whole life – Skane Region Strategy for Culture and Health – Skane Development (