Want to build empathy within your staff? Sing together.

One of the most significant neuroscientific contributions in recent times involves the linking of the hormone oxytocin with singing. If there is such a thing as a ‘bonding’ hormone, oxytocin is it. Oxytocin is a hormone produced by the brain that contributes to feelings of trust, generosity, compassion, kindness, caring and empathy for the people around you. The brain releases oxytocin in large quantities after sexual activity, which bonds couples together. Other stimulants of oxytocin include breastfeeding, massage, dancing together, praying together, and hugging.

An activity that leads to the highest levels of oxytocin production is singing, and in particular, singing in choirs. Therefore singing together can transform people to a more receptive frame of mind for bonding with one another. We have been aware of the health benefits of singing in a choir for some time, such as the ‘feel good’ factor, the boost in self-esteem, a lowering of stress levels, and socialisation benefits. We know that choristers feel happier, more energetic, and more relaxed after a rehearsal. Now we understand why from a scientific perspective, as neuroscientific investigation contributes to a growing body of evidence.

Oxytocin is stimulated when people sing together. Singing together generates trust and harmony among people, and trustworthiness is an essential factor for prosperity and happiness. Perhaps this is why primitive peoples and tribes have always sung together. To survive, communities need to establish loyalty and trust. Trust is one of the most precious commodities in life. Does oxytocin point to a chemistry of morality? Moral codes are based on empathy, connectedness, and generosity, and these qualities prosper with the release of oxytocin. Will this revelation spark a new impetus for the establishment of school, community, and even corporate choral programs? If you’re in business, hire a choral conductor to work with your staff. Set aside 5 x 40 minute blocks of time to prepare 3 songs, and have the choir perform for other members of your organisation. Try new things! If you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got.

An excerpt from ‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’ by Michael Griffin

New – 2nd edition with 130 exercises.

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‘Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs’

Bumblebee! is more than just a collection of 130 choir exercises and rounds. The author shares timeless wisdom to help you get your choir – primary or secondary – into shape.

 View Table of Contents.

“I am a professional musician and through the years have directed many choirs. This book is fabulous. Not only is the author obviously a very accomplished musician but the comments on vocal technique are absolutely accurate and workable for voices of any age. I would highly recommend this book for the serious choral director.” –Suzanne Gorder, Amazon, 5 stars

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Latest review

“A must read for all music educators” – Robert Adams, New Haven, USA.

“Super book. I am so impressed!” – Donna Michaels, USA

“Fantastic book, simply brilliant! – Ian Cooper, Norfolk, UK

“Don’t miss this opportunity!” – Mary George, USA

“Rarely do I come away feeling so inspired. Incredibly beneficial.” – Music Matters Blog

“Such a practical book. SO glad I purchased this. – Jocelyn Beath, NZ

“Most stimulating!” – Nicholas Carpenter, Prebendal, UK

“A must buy for every music teacher and music student” – William Bruce, Teacher of Strings, UK.

“Deeply impressive, the breadth of research is fascinating!” – Robert Chamberlain, Team of Pianists and Monash University Piano Staff, Victoria Australia.

“Awesome! I want to recommend it to every teacher I know” – Michael Williamson, Australia

“I loved it. Extremely helpful and inspiring!” – Cheryl Livingstone, Australia

“The best resource for music educators” – Andrew Heuzenroeder, Australia

“I have read your book and it has made an amazing difference in my teaching and in my studio.” Beth Cruickshank, Past President – Ontario Registered Music Teachers Association.

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Also by Michael Griffin


Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Fundamentals of Notation is a unit of work for general music middle school classes. Designed around the mastering of practical skills, it integrates theory, aural and history, and allows students to progress at their own rate. View Table of Contents.  “This has been a great buy; the books are just superb! Interesting topics with a wide range of pieces. Great content with clear progression of learning. Fascinating teaching philosophy! BRAVO!” -The Grieg Academy, London. Available at Amazon.com

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Music and Keyboard in the Classroom: Let’s Get Creative! is the fun and creative extension to ‘Fundamentals of Notation’.

View Table of Contents. “We have been using your keyboard course and the results have been amazing!”  – St George College, Australia

Available at Amazon.com

harmony bk cover

Modern Harmony Method: Fundamentals of Jazz and Popular Harmony (Third Edition, 2013) is a clear and well organised text suitable for students of arranging and composition, and for classically trained musicians wishing to grasp the beautiful logic of jazz harmony. Essential understandings include chord selection, voicing, symbols, circle of 4th progressions, extensions, suspensions and alterations. Included in the 107 pages are explanations, examples, exercises and solutions. The course can be started with students in year 9 and worked through to year 12 musicianship, composing and arranging.  Available at Amazon.com


Public speaker, music education trainer, conductor and pianist. Author of 'Learning Strategies for Musical Success', 'Bumblebee: Rounds & Warm-ups for Choirs', and 'Modern Harmony Method'.

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Posted in Choir, Music Education
2 comments on “Want to build empathy within your staff? Sing together.
  1. Dianne Anderson says:

    Dear Michael I am very impressed with this article and wondered if we could include it in this year’s Choirs Eisteddfod Program and even send it out with our media releases?

    One reason why there is an increase with people interested in joining choirs is that they are missing congregational singing which they would have enjoyed regularly through their past Church attendance.

    Cheers Dianne


  2. spencingt0n says:

    interesting article, makes me want to know more about the science behind it

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