What happens when one feels "energized"?
March 24, 2011 5:33 PM   Subscribe

A friend queries: What makes a person feel so energized after choir practice (in a scientific sense)?

In a lot of surveys of singers, the singers talk about being energized by singing. I experience this every week. I walk into a choir rehearsal exhausted, I walk out feeling alive again. I know there's an emotional/psychological component to this, the response to singing beautiful music, the people, but I was wondering if there was a physiological compenent as well. It feels physical. Are these same things, the beautiful music, the people, causing changes in the body that are experienced as energizing?

I couldn't find any studies so I thought I would come at it in a more
basic way: when someone experiences feeling energized, what is happening in the body?
posted by DMelanogaster to Science & Nature (8 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Listening to music can cause dopamine release. Other things that can cause dopamine release: food, sex, drugs.
posted by logicpunk at 5:38 PM on March 24, 2011

You normally breathe more deeply and stand up straighter when you sing, that may be part of it.
posted by *becca* at 5:42 PM on March 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Choral singing and psychological wellbeing: Findings from English choirs in a crossnational survey using the WHOQOL-BREF

"Their accounts also revealed six “generative mechanisms” by which singing may impact on wellbeing and health: positive affect; focused attention; deep breathing; social support; cognitive stimulation; and regular commitment."
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:13 PM on March 24, 2011 [5 favorites]

Did you ever see the seriously awesome BBC show The Choir with Gareth Malone? A lot of the folks involved, from all different backgrounds, described similar feelings.

There's that whole Mind-Body Connection business. On preview, stuff MonkeyToes said. ;)
posted by Glinn at 6:17 PM on March 24, 2011

I used to walk away with the same feeling after my accapella singing club at uni.
I would put it down to the breathing involved, but perhaps there is some sort of effect from the vibrations and sound waves produced too.

I miss that feeling.
posted by robotot at 7:19 PM on March 24, 2011

There's a little organ deep inside the ear called the sacculus; when stimulated by the singing of large groups of people, as in a choir, it produces a pleasurable buzz in the hearer.
posted by HotToddy at 10:15 PM on March 24, 2011

I don't know what causes it, but choir practice and performance always makes me feel better as well.
posted by mermayd at 5:09 AM on March 25, 2011

I always chalked it up to standing up straight, breathing more deeply, and lifting the upper palate when you sing. You do those things naturally when you laugh. So maybe there's some psychological/physiological connection between singing and happy moods, because your body recognizes the physical sensation as being similar.

This is why I crack jokes when I direct my choir. It seems to work!
posted by LN at 6:24 AM on March 25, 2011

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