Benefits of Singing in a Choir

Many people would rather die than be caught singing in front of a congregation in a choir. Many secretly sing to themselves in the bathroom but wouldn’t group up. However, several studies show that there are many benefits that come with singing in a choir. Whether it’s your church choir or a choir dedicated to singing specialized songs, some of the benefits associated with singing in a group include the following.

Better emotional health

Studies show that people singing in a choir experience release of chemicals from the brain. These chemicals include dopamine which is a chemical associated with feelings of happiness and wellness. Another chemical released is endorphins which help to provide pain relief. Serotonin is another chemical released by the brain when one sings in a choir. This chemical gives a person the feeling of contentment and euphoria. Oxytocin is another chemical released by the brain when you sing in a choir. This chemical is a stress manager and also promotes the feeling of bonding and trust between you and members of the choir.

Better listening skills

When singing in a choir, you get the chance to listen to other voices sing. This in turn prompts you to tune your voice to blend in with other voices. By training your ear, brain and voice, you are able to develop better listening and communication skills which will come in handy in social interactions.

Better mental health

Studies show that singing in a choir will promote better mental health. The release of the aforementioned chemicals from the brain helps to keep the brain healthy. In addition, practice sessions to memorize a number of songs to perform promotes better memory. A choir member will also promote better metal health as he or she tries to tune the voice to complement other voices in the group. This takes a lot of mental concentration.

Better cardiac health

Studies show that people singing in a choir are likely to have better heart health than solo performers. The singers heart rates tend to slow down as they start a performance. Their heart rates then get in sync as they continue with their performance. The reason for this is that besides singing together, members of the choir have the same breathing rate and synchronized heartbeats when singing the same song.

Improved social skills

Joining a choir gives you the opportunity to work with people with similar interests in music. Similar interests make it easier to socialize and open up. It also gives you a sense of belonging and bonding. Singing in a choir also helps you build your self confidence. Performing solo can be a daunting task for most people. However, if you perform in a group, you are able to build your self confidence slowly.

Meet new people and visit new places

Like other performers, choirs often get invitations to perform in different places. If you love travelling, the choir is one of the best ways of getting free rides to new places while doing what you love.

Singing Tips for Beginners

Music is food to the soul. If we don’t enjoy listening to others sing, we want to sing. Many people have often thought about taking up singing as a hobby or career. Singing is actually good for your overall health. It can help boost memory and promote cardiac health. Just singing can be easy, but singing perfectly is a blend of skill, passion and talent. It can take years for a singer to get the “right voice” so practice and patience are necessary. If you are just beginning in a singing career, here are some tips.

Get a voice coach

Many people are led to believe that they have the perfect voice for singing just from the way they speak. Yes, you might have a voice perfectly suited for ballads but, remember that singing and talking are two different actions. Singing requires mastery of the voice such that you can control its highs and lows creating different sounds. That’s where a voice coach comes in. the voice coach is skilled in the art of training would be and professional singers how to control their voice. They have an ear for different sounds.

Some of the advantages of hiring a voice coach include the following. First, you will be able to learn different breathing techniques that are used while singing. Second, you will be able to find “your voice” faster than if you were training yourself. Third, you will be able to learn more about music in general plus be on your way to building a network of contacts.

Keep the body hydrated

Have you ever tried talking when you have a dry mouth? The result is usually something between a croak and a whisper. Guess what will happen if you try to sing with a dry mouth. Keeping the body hydrated keeps the vocal cords lubricated allowing your voice to be clearer. Taking tons of water will help. Some of the things to avoid before a performance include caffeine, smoking and alcohol which dehydrate the body.

Practice and perform

A great way to practice is finding a practice song. Try finding a song that will challenge your vocal cords. Memorize the song and practice until you can sing like or even better than the songs original performer. Once you’ve perfected this, find another song for practice.

On the performance part, sing in front of people. For starters, sing in front of your voice coach. The feedback will give you confidence to perform in front of other people. Since your aim is performing in front of your fans, then you should start building your self confidence early on in your career.

Get emotional

All great music performers are actually the leading characters in their songs. They tie emotion to the vocals such that the listener isn’t just listening, they also “feel” the song. When performing, think of yourself as part of the theme in the song and act it out with emotion. Your listeners will appreciate this.

Rest the vocal cords if it hurts

Overworking your vocal cords in the early stages of your career can strain them causing pain. If this happens, stop singing for a while and rest the vocal cords. When confident you can sing again, don’t strain them too much.

Allergy Season

Spring season can also be called allergy season for people who can’t tolerate the number of pollen grains in the air. People with asthma, allergic rhinitis and other types of allergies affected by dust and pollen grains suffer severe sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, itchy throat and eyes. Unfortunately, I’m one of them. I’ve had allergic rhinitis or hay fever for short, since I was a child. My nose is very sensitive to fragrant smells such as baby powder, laundry detergents, dusts, certain perfumes and pollen grains. Whenever I encounter such fragrant smells, I often sneeze uncontrollably for seconds or even minutes until I avoid them completely. I will then experience runny nose with watery and reddened eyes coupled with some itchy throat and even eyes.

I had frequent checkups with my doctor, an allergologist to be updated with my condition if it’s going well or worsening. He prescribed me with antihistamines like dipherhydramine for nights because it has a side effect of drowsiness and loratadine in the mornings as it doesn’t have a drowsy effect. He also told me about a natural antihistamine like ginger. He told me to just boil it with cups of water and then I can drink it as a tea. He added that I can also put sugar if I prefer it sweet.

One early morning, I was woken up by my coughs and frequent sneezes. I found out the I left my window open that’s why my rhinitis attacked. I was sneezing continuously for several seconds and it was weakening as I can’t properly breathe. I looked for my medicines in my drawer and I took a pill. I waited for 30 minutes to an hour for the pills to take effect, but my symptoms were still there. I still have classes that day so I couldn’t afford to be absent so I took more pills because I’m desperate. Actually, we were going to have a periodic test that day so I couldn’t afford to miss it as I know that no one’s going to replace me as my class’ proctor. I think, I consumed 10 pills that morning and it really worked and I was just bothered that a pill usually can take care of my rhinitis and now, I think it’s getting worst. I called my doctor after work and he told me to see him the next day for a consult.

I went to my doctor and told him about what happened. He suggested that I don’t try popping that too many pills because I can experience a side effect called pulmonary edema or fluid in lungs and I may feel like I’m drowning. I was petrified by what he told me. He added that I should just try to always shut off my windows and just turn on the air conditioner if I feel warm. He also reminded me that I shouldn’t let my dogs go in my room as their fur may also contain pollen grains and that I should maintain my medication for now because it’s spring season.

Taking Care of our Dogs

My kids and I love our pets dearly and treat them as a part of our family. We now own two cute little dogs, a Teacup Pomeranian and a Husky Pomeranian mix. I love these kinds of breeds as they are small, cute, cuddly, but at the same time, they are attentive, active and playful. They also make good company for families as they are loyal and confident. They serve as our doorbells as they often bark when there’s someone at our door. We trained them well as they are much disciplined when told to stop barking. My kids try to bathe them every other day to keep them hygienic and clean before they feed them because they are very lousy eaters who always keep getting their food on their fur. Whenever my kids are busy with school, I tend to our dogs. As much as possible, I try to groom them once in a while. I trim their hair and cut their nails.

One time when my kids and I were playing with them, I noticed a very pungent smell when they get near me. I also saw signs of scratching at their ears as there are lesions. I went inside our home to get a flashlight because I suspect that they might have a dog ear infection. I happened to one of our dogs last year, that’s why I know their sign and symptom. I got our two dogs near me and looked inside their ears with a flashlight and it was dirty and contaminated. I asked my kids to get me a cotton and alcohol as I will try to clean it a bit before bringing them to their veterinarian, Dr. Ross. After cleaning their messy ears with cotton and alcohol, I gave the doctor a call and told her about what happened. She advised me to let her look at their ears to know the gravity of their condition. I told her that we will go there later as I still have some chores to finish around our home.

I told my kids about our dog’s condition and asked them if they want to come with me. My kids were worried so they came with me and the dogs. Fortunately, there weren’t too many people in the clinic so we won’t have to wait that much. After an hour, we got into the doctor’s clinic and she said hi to my kids. She asked them how much do they love our dogs and my kids gestured like a meter length and told her that much. She told me that my kids are so adorable. Meanwhile, he took a look at our dogs and she told me that I was right about the infection. She commended my cleaning as I almost took all the dirt out. She prescribed our pets’ antibiotic and she reminded me to finish the medicine’s course to finally get rid of them. She added that cleaning their ears every day is recommended until the infection wears off.

Baby Surprises

My husband and I are so happy to announce that I’m four months pregnant and we were thinking about a number of good pregnancy announcement ideas and we finally chose to use social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. We plan to have a photoshoot with my husband wearing a baby blue shirt and me, wearing a pink shirt then I’ll have it edited with captions that I’m pregnant with the due date. We also plan to make a poll out of it if it’s a boy or a girl. We plan to tag all our closest family and friends and I know that they will be so thrilled about it. Our original plan was to tell all of them personally, but it will take so much time and money to do that so we just passed on it. We scheduled to announce it this weekend so many people will know about it right away.

The weekend came and my husband and I were so excited about what people will say about it. It took just a few seconds to upload the picture and tagged all the people close to our lives. Unfortunately, we heard a loud bang and simultaneously cut our power off. It’s a good thing that my husband is so reliable with these things. He checked it out and told me that he just need to replace fuses and everything will be alright. After five minutes, we already had power. I turned our internet on as I was so excited to see their comments.

My husband and I were so teary eyed with all their congratulations and comments wishing us all the best. They were so surprised about our announcement. Some were asking on the gender of our kid and told them that I’ll let them know as soon as we finished the poll question. Most of them voted that we will have a baby boy and I know that our news will be better because we’re going to have twins, a boy and a girl. After a day, almost all of them already voted and boy vote won by a landslide and I told them that we will be having twins.   Well wishers tripled as they even messaged me privately about it.

Our loved ones wanted to celebrate my pregnancy so they asked me if it is okay if they throw me a baby shower. I thanked them and graciously accepted their offer. They even called to consult me about their plans regarding the location and the scheduled date. While we were planning, my husband asked me if it is normal of the occurrence of period while pregnant as I thought that I experienced it on my first month. I told him that I asked the doctor about it and he responded that it was called spotting.  He added that it was called implantation bleeding and it is normal and does not require any treatment. I asked him why and he told me that his co-worker told him that it happened to his wife. I suggested to advise him to consult her doctor to be safe.

Panicking got the best of me

Chronic back pain on the right side may spell liver pain. I’ve had this for a couple of months and I was in shock and dismay when my mom told me about our neighbor, Bob. Apparently, he thought it was just muscle spasms since it was accompanied with shoulder pains so he ignored it and now he has stage 3 liver cancer. I immediately went to the hospital to see a hepatologist, a doctor who specializes in liver. He asked me a detailed medical history, including my family’s and my usual routine everyday. He inspected the color of my eyes and skin for jaundice. He also tapped the upper right quadrant of my stomach and back. He told me that I don’t have jaundice but I still have to go through certain tests to determine my condition. He pacified me by telling me that we still have no concrete proof, so I should relax a bit as I was panicking. He told me that this is just going to rule out any complications of the liver since most liver conditions exhibit jaundice. At that time, I wish I had a friend to hold my hand so I called my best friend, Libby. Good thing she was also in the hospital because she had a checkup with her podiatrist as she was having pain on top of foot. She said she just had an x-ray and it was all good. I was in tears when I saw her. She told me that she’s going to be there every step of the way and I felt a sense of relief.

My doctor referred me to the laboratory to have a complete blood work-up and a urinalysis.   I just sat there with Libby waiting to be called. I am scared with needles so I asked Libby to come with me. The nurse told me I can get the results after a few hours, I can choose to wait in the hospital or just wait for their call at home. I chose the latter as I am getting anxious as I see sick people passing by.

Libby and I got home and we told my mom what happened. She felt sorry for telling me the story about Bob. I told her that it’s better to be careful to take tests before my back pain gets worse. After a few hours, our phone rang and my mom answered it. It was my doctor who called. He told me I don’t have any problem with my liver but I do have a urinary tract infection. It’s a condition which can easily be treated with a week long of taking anti-biotics. I sighed with relief as my mom and Libby laughed at me. We were all so happy that I don’t have a problem with my liver. However, I have to go back to the hospital to get my prescriptions for UTI. It was probably because I don’t drink much water lately as I need to and I’ve also been stress eating with salty foods like chips.

Hedgehog 101

I don’t like my kids to have pets as they’re only excited to care for it for a few weeks. Days will pass and I’ll be the one feeding and cleaning it. My children nagged me for months about getting them any kind of pet as we have a neighbor kid who received a gift for his birthday recently. He got a pet hedgehog as a present. My youngest child, Shane suggested we also get one. I want them to have a feel of having a responsibility, so I said I would discuss it with their dad.

During dinner, we made an agreement that if we’re going to buy them a hedgehog as pets, the kids will be in-charge and responsible for all the feeding and cleaning. I suggested them to ask our neighbors for more information about hedgehogs. My kids were so ecstatic that they wanted to ask that same night. I laughed and told them that it can wait until tomorrow.

The next morning, my kids almost woke up as early as I did. During breakfast, they were talking about what things to ask the kid next door. They have some concerns about the pet such as what to feed it, where they can get it and if it’s a gentle creature. They were already even thinking up of names to give their pet. Their gleaming eyes widen as they talk about their plans. After breakfast, they told me they were heading to the playground as the kid neighbor always plays there every morning.

After a few hours, I heard footsteps and loud, happy chatters echoed down the halls. They found me in the kitchen while I was preparing lunch. I can tell that they were so pleased with the information they acquired. They mentioned lots of interesting things about hedgehogs.

According to them, hedgehogs are typically aloof at first as they don’t normally seek human interaction or affection. Their character changes gradually depending on how owners nurture them. Some of them can be cute, cuddly and they’re not aggressive as other people think. Their spikes only come out when they’re frightened or in trouble. They do have teeth and have the urge to bite only as an act of expressing what they feel. They aren’t high maintenance pets because they simply require food and water to live. It mostly requires one termite treatment which lasts until the end of their life span. The hedgehog cages are mostly neat as they sustain the habit of using a litter pan. Healthy hedgehogs don’t have foul odor reminiscent of rodents. They tend to clean up after themselves by licking, scratching, or even shaking their bodies.

Hedgehogs are nocturnal animals so you’ll see them in a ball during the day. One shouldn’t put a male and a female in the same cage if you aren’t planning to breed. Females could get pregnant as early as 8 weeks old, but it’s recommended to breed them at the age of 6 months onwards. Before getting them as pets, you should first confer with state laws to prevent problems because some regard them as exotic pets.

I trust my kids will go on their word that they’ll always make time nurturing them. I do hope that through this experience, they’ll become more mature and learn to be more responsible. I also hope that this will help them face real-life responsibilities in the future.

Taboo and bowel movements

Bowel movements aren’t really a good conversation piece anywhere for a small talk or during dinners. There is an unwritten taboo about it thus makes people think they’re the only ones who suffer. It’s ironic that you’re in pain and you can’t tell or rant on people about it. I’ve had three kids and I’ve never thought of sharing my diarrhea during pregnancy, more about this issue can be read here, with friends or co-workers. I feel that a memory like that should merely be kept as a secret, but the doctor kept on asking me about my bowel movements as it was due to medical reasons and then I asked him if it was dangerous to me and my baby. I learned that it wouldn’t do any harm to my baby, but my doctor advised me to call him whenever I suddenly feel fewer fetal movements along with diarrhea that lasts longer than twenty-four hours as it might lead to dehydration.

What I’ve known was diarrhea is a condition wherein we undergo fluidity in fecal elimination. The stool usually turns into green color because the food moved through the intestines too quickly as bile didn’t have time to respond and assist in digestion. It can be induced by parasites, virus or bacteria. There is really no better way to cure such a disease other than releasing all the toxins causing it. What we want to observe out for is the risk of dehydration since it keeps on flushing out excess liquids and electrolytes from our body in turn, giving us body malaise. Symptoms of dehydration include dry mouth and mucous membranes, little or no urination and sunken eyes. Keep in mind that when it happens, we simply need to get some rest and make sure that we take in more fluids and electrolytes than what we’re releasing out with our stools. In the meantime, we also have to eat slowly with smaller portions and avoid eating fatty and greasy foods.

Even my kid had a fair share of taboo about bowel movements. One memory takes me back when he was only 2 years old. He was always a happy and talkative kid, but I observed him for a week, he seems to be grumpy, quiet and always lacking appetite even if the prepared food is his favourite. I asked him what’s causing him to be not in the mood, but he just keeps telling me nothing. I’d seen him frequently nursing his tummy so I called his pediatrician to consult my son’s case. The doctor asked me how was his bowel but unfortunately I’d been fairly busy working so I just see my son every evening and on weekends. I rang up my son’s nanny to ask and she told me that he hasn’t pooped in days. I had the relief of knowing the culprit causing my son to be grumpy and not his usual self, it was toddler constipation, you can read more about it at www.commondigestivedisorders.net. I brought my son to the doctor in the morning and was prescribed with a mild laxative for him to take. He was also advised to drink more fluids, eat more fiber enriched foods and have a time for him to be active to improve his peristalsis. I trust this won’t take place again as no mom wants her son to experience pain.

Hello Mr. J

It’s very sad to learn that my dear, old music mentor, Mr. Johnson is diagnosed with Neutropenia. There are rumours that he is terminal, but I don’t want to believe that. I tried to research more about neutropenia and neutropenic precautions to divert my attention but I can’t. I’m just too emotional for now to visit him in his home and I don’t want him to see that. It will never be the same without him.

Mr. Johnson is my first music mentor outside my home. He taught me many things like reading notes, reading music sheet signs and playing instruments like guitar, and piano. I was always excited when he’s teaching. I don’t know why, but I just love music. I remember the first time I met him. I just transferred to this new school and I don’t know anyone yet. I was in middle school and I was stuck in the hallway with my large backpack holding a piece of paper containing my assigned classroom. I saw a thin, tall man in a brown suit. He was holding a dark brown briefcase and lots of papers on his other hand. He came near me and asked if I am lost. I told him that I don’t know where my room is because I just transferred. He read my room assignment and accompanied me. I was so thankful to him wondering who he was and if I’ll ever see him again.

Our first subject was English which lasted for almost 2 hours. As the English teacher left the room, I heard a familiar voice talking. After a few minutes, there was the man who helped me. I was startled as he introduced himself as Mr. Johnson or Mr. J. He’s going to be our Music teacher for the whole year. As excited as I was, he started calling pupil’s names for attendance. He finished calling all my classmates but me. I raised my hand and he let me stand up and speak. I told him that I wasn’t called. He asked for my name and jotted it down on a piece of paper. He smiled and told me it’s okay.

Mr. J had different way of teaching. He makes his students focused and interested with the subject he’s teaching. He always makes everyone involved and engaged. We often sing songs that everyone liked. It was really fun learning with him like when he brought in his guitar and taught us simple chords like G, A7, C, G. It was amazing that with only 4 chords that he played, we made a beautiful music. He even let the class made the lyrics. It was so much fun. Since that first day that I met him, he made me love music even more.

I’ve tried to visit him without being emotional but I can’t. I knocked on the door and Mrs. J opened. I was in tears. I saw Mr. J smiling at me as he was sitting on his comfy chair. I hugged him so tight. He said it’s okay. I tried to calm down as they told me what happened. I really missed him so much. I’ll really make time to visit him more often.