by Camila Rabin
Have you ever belted out your favorite song and really gotten into it? I’m talking facial expressions, gestures, emotions, etc.
How did it make you feel?
You got a rush of energy and any stress you were feeling just melted away. Whatever you were feeling beforehand, after the song, you were full of energy and positivity.
That is the power of singing. And it’s something people in Japan and South Korea (and to a lesser extent, China) have been taking advantage of for decades. It is something scientists are aware of as well: Singing Changes Your Brain.
It is the reason karaoke exists.
Karaoke in Japan and South Korea
Japanese and Koreans work long hours. They get very little time off, including weekends. Their lives are stressful and they need a good way to fight that stress. That’s where karaoke comes in.
A few times a week, office workers, laborers, and students head to one of the ubiquitous karaoke establishments to let off some steam. They rent a private room together with their friends and spend a few hours mimicking their favorite singers. When they head home, the stress is gone and they feel refreshed and happy.
This is not purely anecdotal. Junko Matsumoto and Shiori Aoki did a study entitled “Subjective mood induced by singing in karaoke.” They summarized that “respondents reported feeling more excited, active, and tired and less depressed, anxious and nervous than before karaoke singing.”
Is The Effect The Same With Western-Style Karaoke?
In Asia, karaoke is a private affair. You get a private room with your friends. No one but your friends gets to (or have to, depending on your ability) hear you sing. In the west, most karaoke bars are open. If you sing, you sing to everyone.
As you might guess, this relieves stress just as well as singing privately with your friends. The problem is that many people do not feel comfortable singing in front of a roomful of strangers. If this is you, here are a few alternatives that could work.
Alternatives To Karaoke Bars
1. Your home
You could sing at home. Naturally, this only works if you have some distance or sound insulation between yourself and your neighbors. Making enemies of those around you does not have a positive effect on stress levels and whispering a song quietly to yourself doesn’t have the same effect as belting it out with everything you’ve got.
If you do live in a place where you can sing at home. Get yourself a home karaoke kit (or just a karaoke app) and you’re good to go. You could even organize karaoke sessions with your friends. Singing with others is not only more fun, but it boosts the feel-good effects of karaoke. And who cares if you can’t sing. Just choose an easy song and chances are no one will even notice.
2. A friend’s home
If your place is not ideal for singing loudly, perhaps one of your friends has a place that is. You could gather there for a regular karaoke session.
3. Rent a space
If you do not have access to a place that is appropriate for karaoke, you could probably rent one fairly cheaply, if you get enough people together. Inquire about their off-times and you’ll likely get a discount over the more popular times.
4. Sing in your car
Finally, there is always your car. Thanks to shows like Carpool Karaoke, people won’t even look at you too strangely, if they catch you getting into your favorite song while you’re stuck at a red light. Singing in your car has the added benefit that you can do it immediately after leaving work, so you arrive home refreshed and stress-free.
If your job or family or life in general often leaves you feeling stressed and deflated, give singing a try. Karaoke is not just a fun night out, it also melts away stress and leaves you feeling relaxed and happy.
Camila Rabin is a music teacher who recently started the blog Musicaroo to help people who want to learn to sing or play an instrument.