I first met Tania de Jong at a conference in Sydney a couple of years ago. I was impressed not just by her beautiful soprano singing voice, but in addition, her warmth and compassion for others.
As a follow up from Mental Health Week it seems appropriate to continue to explore those avenues that can help us to stay mentally well. Singing is well recognised as a way to reduce stress and tension and singing in a choir has been shown to enhance a sense of social connectedness, wellbeing and happiness. Singing even leads to a synchronisation of the hearts beats of those singing together. Tania is convinced that singing enhances our ability to be creative, something she believes is the strategic tool of the 21st century.
In the UK, "Singing for the Brain" groups organised by the Alzheimer's Society hold weekly singing groups for those people living with dementia and their carers. Because memory for music and song are stored in different parts of the brain, people with dementia can often still access the words and tunes they used to know, even they may no longer be able to hold a normal conversation.
But today I want to share the TEDx video where Tania shares how singing can change the brain (in a good way) and the choirs she has helped to establish. Her story includes examples of how singing promotes community and friendship, and in one instance even helped a choir member find a job.