Singing is Good for You: Choirs are on the Rise

Susan Medley joins Tim to talk about new research that revealed that singing is good for you, mentally and physically, and America’s participation in choirs is on the rise. Susan is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music at Washington & Jefferson College and is the music director of the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. Today, one in six Americans sing in community choirs.

According to an organization called Chorus America, singing is good for you. It’s good for your health, both mentally and physically.

That’s right. When you find yourself singing in the shower or in your car at that red light (as the person in the car to your right watches), you’re doing something good for yourself.

It may not come as a surprise to you that participation in church choirs is on the decline. But overall, more people are participating in community choirs.

More than 17 percent of American adults participate in some sort of choir, which is an increase from 14 percent in 2008. That means one in six American adults not only like to sing, but they’ve done something about it. They joined a choir.


About this Episode’s Guest Susan Medley

Susan Medley is Director of Choral Activities and Professor of Music at Washington & Jefferson College. She joined the W&J faculty in 2004 and conducts the W&J Choir and Camerata Singers, and teaches conducting and music theory. She also serves as the advisor for W&J’s Epsilon Zeta chapter of Delta Omicron International Music Fraternity.

In addition to her duties at W&J, Medley serves as Music Director of the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale. She was Associate Conductor of the Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh from 2008 to 2012 and Music Director and Conductor of the Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh from 2009 to 2013. Prior to coming to W&J, she was Associate Director of Education at Carnegie Hall in New York City and founding conductor/clinician of the Carnegie Hall High School Choral Festivals. She also held the position of Music Director of The Central City Chorus, a 60-voice community chorus that performed three annual concerts in midtown Manhattan.

Under Medley’s direction, the W&J Camerata Singers have appeared by invitation at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall in New York City, on the Great Artists concert series at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City, at the 2009 MENC Eastern Division Conference, and at the 2010 State Conference of the Pennsylvania Music Education Association. In June 2010, the W&J Camerata Singers became the first winners of The American Prize in Choral Performance, College/University Division. The Junior Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh followed suit in 2011, winning The American Prize in Choral Performance, High School Division.

Medley’s choral work has taken her to Malaysia, where she served as guest conductor of the 2006 Kuala Lumpur Young Singers Choral Festival and led workshops for choirs and conductors throughout the country.

The recipient of the 2011 PMEA District 1 Citation of Excellence Award, Medley holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting with a cognate in music theory from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. She holds an M.M. in Accompanying from the University of Akron and a B.M. in Music Education summa cum laude from Kent State University, where she studied piano with Naumburg Award-winning pianist Margaret Baxtresser.