A new term is starting for Yass ‘Good Vibes’ adult choir, where members of the Yass community meet together to sing, harmonise, and connect with one another. The group meets in Mt Carmel School Hall, Yass, on Tuesday evenings at 7 pm to 8:30 pm. Good Vibes Choir encourages all levels of singers to come join in, as no experience is needed, just a joy for music. Last term, the choir had a definitive theme with a song list including: ‘Yellow Brick Road,’ ‘Hit the Road, Jack,’ ‘Lonesome Road,’ and ‘Country Roads.’

The Good Vibes Choir was first established in 2016 by talented local musicians Ms Derryth Nash and Mrs Jaqueline Hanson, who has taught music at Yass High School for many years. The group first performed at the Turning Wave Festival in Yass and has since performed in local cafes and various events. In 2018, the choir performed alongside four other regional choirs at the Yass Spring Concert to create a unison of more than 100 voices. More recently, the choir provided choral entertainment for Refugee Week 2022 – Stories from Afghanistan, held at Yass Community Baptist Church last month. 

Choir sings at Celtic Festival in 2018

“Friendship is definitely one of the most awesome things about the choir,’ said Ms Nash. ‘It doesn’t matter what kind of day you’ve had; by the end of choir, you’ll walk out feeling great. It’s that buzz you get from making music with people; it’s just joyful, really.”

According to Ms Nash, the choir is a nonjudgmental space where all levels of singing experience are welcome, with many choir members being people who just love to sing in the shower or in the car along to the radio. Half of the members read music, and half don’t, opting to learn by ear instead.

“It’s really supportive, and that being said, I do challenge them. We get up to four-part harmonies, and I push them to learn tunes,” she explained.

The choir currently has around 20 members with ages ranging from mid-thirties to seventies, though there have been much younger members over the choir’s history.

“Through Covid it was really challenging, we literally couldn’t sing together. But luckily they all hung in there, and we’ve  just recently restarted. We’ve got all our oldies back, It’s lovely.”

Ms Nash encourages community members on social media to join the choir, citing the psychological benefits of singing in a choir. It’s true— according to neuroscientists, when someone sings, especially in a choir, endorphins will release in the brain and interact with its opiate receptors, creating a soothing sensation and even diminishing physical pain. Singing, and listening to others sing, also releases serotonin, the pleasure regulating hormone, as well as dopamine, which regulates mood and other social behaviours. Cortisol, the stress hormone, is found to decrease. Dr David Huron made the fascinating and useful discovery that singing increases prolactin, a hormone that causes a nursing mother to make enough milk for her baby. 

While listening to music or singing alone shares many of these benefits, it is even more advantageous to sing as a group. Dr Gunter Kreutz showed that singing in a choir–as opposed to simply listening to choral music–increases SIgA production. These are antibodies found in saliva which aid the immune system and create various other positive physical responses.

A study at George Washington University, Virginia, found that singers in a choir suffered depression less frequently, made fewer doctor’s visits each year, and needed less medication. 

To get the most out of these amazing psychological singing perks, Ms Nash encourages anyone interested to ‘just rock up’ to the Mt Carmel Hall on Tuesday evening, or reach out to her on Facebook for more information. 

Southerly Jones