Preview :: Interview with Tania de Jong
My beautiful great-grandmother, for as long as I can remember and right up until she passed away about 15 years ago, sang in a choir every single week. She loved it, and would always tell us all about the friends she sang with, and what they were all up to. I thought it was adorable, but something that only elders did for fun.
Lo and behold, one fine day I was chatting with a group of friends when one of them mentioned that she was heading to choir practice later that day.
“Oh, which choir do you sing with?”, another friend asked. When she replied, he told us that he was in a different choir group, and they got to chatting about how much they both loved it.
Since these two friends are quite possibly the happiest people I know, it got me thinking about the sense of community that singing in a choir can bring, and the impact that can have on our mental health.
When we embrace sobriety, we also tend to change identity and lifestyle, which inevitably is a great thing. But during the bumpy transition phase, many of us can struggle with feelings of isolation, low self esteem, and difficulty processing complicated emotions.
Keen to understand how singing in a choir might be able to help, I came across Tania de Jong’s TEDx talk, ‘How Singing Together Changes the Brain‘. I was blown away and utterly inspired by Tania’s varied and fascinating career and the passion and love with which she talked about this topic.
“ So many of us have been told we can’t sing or we’re not creative, and these sorts of messages permeate our belief system, and we have these self-limiting beliefs that mean that we really disqualify ourselves from doing some of the things that would really help us to unlock our full potential. ”
Tania’s work focuses on building and unleashing creative potential that transforms lives. She’s not only an acclaimed Australian soprano, but also the founder of Creativity Australia, running With One Voice choir social inclusion programs, and the global community wellbeing video challenge, Sing for Good. So I was thrilled to fly to Melbourne to interview her.
I started to think joining a choir group might be fun, but felt a little apprehensive, because I don’t see myself as the ‘musical’ type, or believe I have a natural talent when it comes to singing. I was keen to ask her if anyone could join (lacking talent or otherwise), as well as explore the physical, mental and emotional benefits.
Let’s just say, our chat did not disappoint. Join us as we dive into the magic of self-belief, unlocking our own individual voice and the voices of those around us, and exactly what it is about singing in a group that is so powerful for us as human beings…
“ Singing is like a super wonder drug because the neuroscientific benefits are so profound for people.
When you sing, and particularly when you sing with other people, your right temporal lobe fires up, making you smarter, happier, healthier, more creative. And so you release all these endorphins, and they are what make you feel smarter, happier, healthier, more creative. But instead of it being a temporary thing, like with alcohol, this is a permanent change to your brain…
Not only that, but your memory, language, concentration improves. Singing with others has even been shown to heal people from strokes and brain injuries, and improve people with alzheimers.
So it really is the most incredible drug for your brain… And the thing about it is, when you sing with other people, you breathe with them, because you’re breathing the same phrases together in a choir. And there’s also some research, which is quite beautiful, that shows that your hearts start to beat together. ”
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Tania de Jong AM is an acclaimed Australian soprano, award-winning social entrepreneur, creative innovation catalyst, global speaker and spiritual journeywoman. She is the founder of Creative Universe, Creativity Australia, Creative Innovation Global, Dimension5, MTA Entertainment & Events, and The Song Room, and works with diverse communities through Creativity Australia’s With One Voice choir social inclusion programs and the global community wellbeing video challenge, Sing for Good. Tania speaks and sings around the world as a soloist and with her group Pot-Pourri, and has just released her new album, Flying Free. Tania’s mission is to change the world, one voice at a time!