Op-Ed: The benefits of singing in the National Children’s Chorus


Photo credit: Drew Corey

The National Children’s Chorus’ premier ensemble poses in front of the Grammy we earned March 2, 2022. The National Children’s Chorus has benefited my responsibility, health, happiness and social life and has expanded my worldview. Photo used with permission.

By Ella Chang, Staff Reporter

At the age of 8, my mom signed me up for the National Children’s Chorus to involve me in one of my passions: singing. I never would have believed the chorus would change my life. Because of this organization, I am able to travel internationally; I have been to a range of places such as Japan, Korea, Italy, Spain and Portugal.

The National Children’s Chorus (NCC) is a nonprofit organization with chapters in major cities nationwide. Their mission is to “transform the lives of young people, empowering them to effectively lead society toward the ideals of artistic excellence, cultural openness and social diversity.” Since I was 8, I’ve met with their L.A. chapter every week for musicianship study and rehearsal.

According to a study at Oxford University, there are many benefits to singing in a chorus, including improved muscle tension, posture and breathing. Singing also improves a person’s happiness and health. These benefits have played out in my life. Every time I go to practice, it always boosts my mood. The songs we sing, which alternate from season to season, correspond to optimistic themes.

The Oxford study also references how choruses endorse social interactions. Their research “reveals that group singing not only helps forge social bonds, it also does so particularly quickly, acting as an excellent icebreaker.”

Aligning with these benefits, I have expanded my social group and met my closest friends through the NCC. I am so thankful to have these friends with me for almost 10 years now. Through the NCC, I’ve opened my eyes to so many people from different cultures, backgrounds and identities. The number of people I’ve met across the globe has changed my perspective on the way I view my own life.

The Marino Institute of Education also conducted research on teachers’ perceptions of music education for kids. Their study discusses the transferability of musicality to other cross-curricular activities, greater educational successes and emotional benefits.

For example, as a club swimmer born with asthma, improving my breathing has been a touchy subject. However, with practice, I’ve noticed positive changes in my breathing patterns over time.

Even though singing may sound easy, the commitment that comes with being a part of a chorus is not for the faint of heart. I sing and mentor younger singers every Sunday from 1-5:45 p.m. I also take conductor coaching for 20 minutes, along with sight-singing and ear-training classes for an hour each week.

The responsibility and diligence that NCC requires have translated to my performance at school. Regardless of the scores I earn, my work ethic has been consistent.

The memories I have created through singing in the NCC have brought joyous life events I could not have possibly imagined. The most memorable performance was in 2022 when the chorus won a Grammy for “Symphony of a Thousand” of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 in E flat major.

Not only was this one of our many huge accomplishments, but it was a beautiful experience. The Walt Disney Concert Hall is one of the most elegant buildings I’ve seen, and the acoustics inside are arguably grander. Singing a moving song with the LA Philharmonic, the LA Children’s Chorus, the LA Master Chorale and the Pacific Chorale almost brought me to tears.

Our other notable performances were at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican, Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and the Korean Demilitarized Zone with the Lindenbaum Festival Orchestra.

At present, I am a part of the NCC’s premiere ensemble and scholars. We performed for our Spring Showcase May 20 at Bel Air Church. This summer, I am going to England, Wales and Scotland for the 2023 International Summer Tour.

I recently participated in the San Francisco Spring Showcase Tuesday, May 16. I was honored to represent Los Angeles as a choral leader.

The National Children’s Chorus has contributed to my educational, mental, social and physical successes. I recommend others join the chorus because of the endless opportunities; I will never regret joining because it has positively impacted me in ways I could not have expected.