Medical Mysteries of Music

Some good news and bad news about singing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stressed about everything to do with the coronavirus? Here are two seemingly contradictory pieces of advice.

1. Singing is “the world’s most accessible stress reliever” (BBC)

According to clinical neurologists, singing causes both sides of the brain to boot up. This in turn results in a sequence of beneficial physiological reactions.

“The physical exertion involved in singing – filling of our lungs, the firm control of our vocal chords, the movements of our mouth and body – is among the reasons why it can boost our mood. Singing is an aerobic exercise which sees the release of endorphins, the brain’s ‘feel-good’ chemicals, says Baishali Mukherjee, the Southeast Asia regional liason for the World Federation of Music Therapy.

“’Endorphins [are] related to an overall lifted feeling of happiness, it gives a feeling of euphoria so it’s all associated with a reduction in stress,’ she says. ‘In any situation whether it is under stress or [with] any physical ailments, illness, psychological deprivation, music has the potential to affect our body and mind.’” 

So singing is good for you during the time of pandemic. However…

2. Does singing spread the coronavirus? (CTV)

Maybe–if you’re singing forcefully as part of choir.

“U.S. health officials studying how a COVID-19 outbreak managed to occur among members of a Washington state choir in early March found that droplets released during singing may have spread the virus.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 52 members of the Skagit Valley Chorale were sickened, three were hospitalized and two died following two rehearsals that included a member with cold-like symptoms. That person later tested positive for COVID-19 and was the first case identified by health authorities.”


Go ahead and sing. But stay away from other people.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 37808 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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