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Singing and Wellbeing: The results are in…

July 1, 2015 at 10:57 am UTC

It is with excitement and pride that we can reveal the results from the health research that took place at the Eric Whitacre Singers concert earlier this year.

The scientific study shows for the first time that attending a live classical music concert physically reduces stress – and so does singing. It has been proven to have a positive, biological effect on mood and stress levels.

The study, lead by scientists at the Centre of Performance Science at the Royal College of Music & Imperial, involved 15 singers and 49 audience members – ranging from seasoned concert-goers and musicians to classical music novices – who were hooked up to ECG monitors, submitted saliva samples and completed a questionnaire.

Singing is something that many people inherently feel is good for them and relaxes them. But to actually show biologically (and demonstrate scientifically) that it can reduce stress is very exciting.  The Royal College of Music team with whom we have been working has also been collecting extraordinary data working with Tenovus Choirs, seeing measurable benefits in singing among cancer patients, for example.  Reducing stress has a direct benefit not only in general terms in our home lives and the workplace, but also in pain reduction, recuperation and even the advancement of some diseases.

Findings revealed that audience members experienced decreases in levels of stress hormones cortisol and cortisone. Singing also had a profound biological effect, reducing stress hormones in the body and relaxing the performers in rehearsal and raising them during performance.

In the long term, this research will be extended to explore further the psychological and biological impact of singing and its potential for supporting health and wellbeing.

Thank you to everyone that was a part of the research. There’s another opportunity to be a part of the study at Cheltenham Music Festival next week.

Summary of psychobiological results

  • Watching a concert as an audience member led to a decrease in stress hormones (cortisol, cortisone and the cortisol-DHEA ratio)
  • Watching a concert also led to decreases in negative mood states (afraid, tense, confused, sad, anxious and stressed) and increases in positive mood states (relaxed and connected)
  • Singing in a low-stress rehearsal reduced levels of stress hormones (cortisol and cortisone) and didn’t affect psychological anxiety, but singing in a high-stress concert increased stress hormone levels and psychological anxiety
  • The overall act of singing reduced the cortisol-cortisone ratio, suggesting that singing has an inherently relaxing effect regardless of how stressed people feel



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