Sunday, 14 November 2010

NUSS Choir 12th Anniversary Concert

The 12th anniversary concert of the NUSS Choir, entitled A Season of Songs from the Heart, takes place on Wednesday (17 November 2010) at University Cultural Centre at 7.30 pm. The choir will be conducted by the young choral conductor Darius Lim (left), who is also known to be an accomplished pianist.

Here is an interview article which Dr Maurine Tsakok, the NUSS Choir's Honorary Convenor and eminent obstetrician and gynaecologist, (left, seen on the right of Mrs Goh Chok Tong) wrote for Today.

How does choral singing benefit health?
The use of choral sound to improve health and especially the mind is not a novel idea, since it influences profoundly the behaviour of entire societies. It is a communication that accesses the emotions directly and improves the body's immunity. Choral singing makes one smarter by positively affecting the neural connections in the brain (the hippocampus) and increases the MRNA (Messenger DNA) involved in learning, memory formation and retention, enhances intelligence, and delays dementia (loss of brain functions, memory, thinking and behaviour). It is the choristers' vocal technique of producing the choral tone by sending the breath and sound energy through the hollow sinuses that stimulates the base of the brain to impact the neurons (nerve-cells). By developing the breath through correct posture, deep breathing, chest and diaphragm movements, physical health is improved through enhanced lung, heart, and circulation functions.

What are some of the benefits you have seen impact you have seen impacting yourself?
The discipline of listening to blend with fellow singers, improves my hearing functions . It has not only sharpened my acuity of hearing and appreciation of music but has led also to better sense of balance and coordination. The good vocal technique taught , going beyond the basics ,to include vocal warmups, proper nutrition to feed the voice , adequate rest and emotional commitment have contributed to my increased poise, self esteem and presentation skills. It has strengthened my memory. and concentration. It has improved my stamina, Qi, and breath control and, it has also improved my social interpersonal reaction.

How many people participate in choral singing here?
There are more than 200 school choirs a foresight of I believe the late Dr Goh Keng Swee benefitting from early vocal training . Most universities and tertiary education centres have choirs developed as an expressive art form. Then don't forget all the church choirs who sing with spiritual passion and the professional choruses who are selected to sing and to perform. Choral music is group art to which each chorister contributes his/her intelligence, skill, love, grateful for the contributions of his/her fellow singer.

Can we say how choral singing has benefited them healthwise?
Choral singing teaches choristers that through cooperation with each other, persistent hard work, discipline, harmony and interdependence will result in giving enjoyment, total sense of well-being, enhanced self-esteem for themselves and others. Since choral singing develops the lungs and promotes superior posture as well as boosts resistance there is less absenteeism from infection .Animation of of the body ,mind and spirit from together singing also prevents mood swings and depression and is ageless enjoyment.

How long have you been practicing choral singing?
At the end of 2007, I explored group singing opportunities when I learnt from a Medical Conference on Aging that choral singing was the most economical way to prevent /delay dementia. I sat in and sang along with the NUSS choir when introduced by gynaecological colleagues. Having never sung before ,I was surprised I could follow the song. However, I could never understand the conductor's explanation.of singing with a fish ball in the mouth. I joined NUSS in 2009 expressly to be in the choir. I only commenced to understand in 2010 what was required when instructed by a conductor used to teaching children. And it was really fun to achieve the choral tone, sense of achievement and satisfaction. The NUSS Choir is made up of a group enthusiastic amateurs from all walks of Graduate life led by a Music Director. We usually sing in four part harmony. In our upcoming 12th Anniversary Concert on the 17th Nov 2010 at UCC, our 50-strong, eclectic, graduate singers with their individual expressions would like to transcend age and time, and sing out their hearts and emotions to the audience. so that the magical beneficial effects of choral music on the singer can be transferred to their them especially should their emotions, feelings be on the same wavelength through facial expression and emotional synchrony.

What is your designation ?
I was catapulted into the Convenor's position this year in my absence. I did not know the functions of a Convenor but with the choristers' urging, I took on the challenge to lead and manage the expectations of the choir . I have activated the choir to take on more challenges in choral singing rather than to perform for entertainment's sake. With deeper research into the mechanism of the benefits of choral singing, I'd like for it to be recognized as an activity that can be utilized as an affordable health enhancement programme by prescription for all ages, starting from womb .

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