Connecting Emotionally Despite COVID: Singing

Dr. Martha G. Welch explains how singing helps us connect with each other.

After a week of quarantine in Italy, videos started to surface on the internet of Italians taking to their balconies and singing with their neighbors. Maybe you didn’t understand the lyrics, but you felt the pain, the joy, the camaraderie. You didn’t have to think for a few beautiful moments while you connected with people through their music.

It can be inspiring to see how even in such a difficult time, people find ways to connect. But it can also make us feel lonely or inadequate: why isn’t my community doing that?

You’re not alone, and it’s not your fault. When distressing events separate us from loved ones, we’re at increased risk of depression, anxiety, and feelings of isolation. But our research has shown that practicing emotional connection when we’re stressed, whether we’re alone or together, can help our bodies and minds stay healthy.

Some ways of connecting require touching, but others don’t– like singing. In this Nurture Science Program blog series, we’ll share some simple ways you can connect with each other in this time of crisis, whether you’re on the front lines, confined at home together, or a video call away.

Our research-based Family Nurture Care approach focuses on practicing emotional connection through seven connecting activities. Today we will focus on singing.

Close your eyes. Relax for a moment. Comb through your memories for a feeling from when you were a child; the warmth and comfort you felt when your mom or dad –or maybe your grandparent– sang you to sleep. Singing is one of the ways we connect emotionally to others from a very young age.

Singing is not just for bedtime, and it’s not just for children. During this stressful time, everyone needs emotional connection. And you don’t have to be a trained musician to connect through singing! Last night my husband and I danced to “Some Enchanted Evening,” and he sang along.

One young family told us today that, “Even something as simple as ‘Row Row Row your Boat’, in a round feels especially powerful, because the harmonies together create such joy and added connection.”

Today’s tip: Connect through singing

  • Sing songs in your native (childhood) language
  • If you have young children, makeup songs about daily routines like waking up, getting dressed, eating meals or taking a bath like “Splish Splash”
  • Ask older children what songs they love and listen together.
  • Skype or FaceTime with grandparents or parents who aren’t home at bedtime, and let them join in with lullabies.
  • Do an online sing-along with friends and family. You may find yourself dancing too!
  • Have a virtual dance party. Set a time, maybe even a playlist, and stay in your pajamas!

Sound silly? Maybe, but not for long. Our bodies, hearts, and brains need emotional connection. Whether you’re working hard on the front lines, at home alone, or with family: you’ll feel better for connecting with the important people in your life.


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