Two research projects have been published, using our singing groups, a medical research project and a social research project:
1. These are the results of our medical research project into the benefits of singing on health and well-being, conducted by a student at the Medical School of Sussex University, using our singing groups.
Breathing and Posture: • 71.5% increased control in breathing “It has helped me a lot in learning how to get over periods of breathlessness and get my breathing back into control” • 24% increase in exercise tolerance “I couldn’t go up a short flight of stairs without resting twice and I couldn’t go up the street I lived in, […]. since I’ve started the singing class, I can do both things.”
Speech: • 14.2% increased vocal projection “I’ve got Parkinson’s and it’s helped me feel better. I was never depressed but it has lifted my spirits even more and it’s helped me project my voice, and it’s given me confidence.”
Social and Mood: • 81% created new friendships “But what is good is we notice if someone hasn’t been well for a long time. We ask where they are and if they are alright. We care; we miss the people that aren’t here.” • 19% felt able to join other groups “I think a lot of older people. I know I do, just feel as if they’re a nuisance and in the way. When I am here I get over that quite easily.” • 71.4% increased their sense of happiness “It’s made me appreciate life and it’s good.”
Healthcare professionals and medication use: • 24% decreased number of GP visits “I feel that I’ve spent less time going back to my doctors with flare-ups of my COPD.” • 9% decreased hospital admissions “[…] have been able to stay away from my doctor and the hospital and avoid the use of antibiotics and steroids.” • 19% decreased medication use “I haven’t had antibiotics for at least a year now.”
With thanks to: R. Wheatley, student at Brighton and Sussex Medical School Dr. K. Walker-Bone, BSMS Dr. L. Marshall-Andrews GP, Futurehealth Dr. S. Andersen, Futurehealth
2. Social Research Project Summary: the results of our social research project highlighting the benefits of singing on social health and well-being, conducted by an MA Community Psychology student at The University of Brighton.
The self-reported questionnaires from members have shown that the singing groups aid individuals to feel integrated within their communities, increase social support, confidence and bring light to occasional dark days, which are integral for wellbeing and health of citizens in Brighton and Hove.
Key themes are as follows: ‘It lifts my mood’, An Uplifting Atmosphere ‘After singing, the world seems a much better place… you will leave on a high with a big smile on your face’ ‘Beforehand I’m usually a bit low and feel ‘ordinary’- after singing I feel ‘higher’, ‘extraordinary’ and ‘euphoric’
‘No one is left out’, Social Inclusion: ‘It is a great way to meet like-minded people and those with the same medical condition as myself… I like feeling like I belong to a group of people’ ‘I really look forward to going to the group, it’s friendly, welcoming, so enjoyable and a big part of my social time every week. It gives you so much, helps with the social and health aspect, as well as providing pleasure and happiness’ ‘My mum has always been a member of a choir, but had to give this up due to her dementia. She can no longer read music or cope with performing, but ‘Sing for Better Health’ enables her to successfully participate in an activity that has been a lifelong passion’
Close Connections: Social Support: ‘I certainly think it helps my wellbeing. The people you meet are amazing, very interesting and extraordinary individuals. I like to think it makes a difference to them as well. Everybody has some sort of problem. A cup of tea and a chat solves all’ ‘It has become a very special part of my social life. I have made many friends resulting in meals out, theatre trips etc. You have a purpose to get up, dress up and turn up’
‘Full of the Joy of Spring’: Providing the Light through Dark Times: ‘It has the capability of shutting out personal anxieties and makes me live in the present moment of song. After one hour of singing with Udita and our group, I invariably feel my wellbeing greatly increased’ ‘Singing has helped me to keep going and keep smiling!’ that … ‘Sometimes, I feel full of aches and pains but after a jolly sing song, you forget them!’ ‘Before singing, I am slightly rushed with issues on my mind which can be bothersome. After one hour of singing so many glorious songs, I feel full of joy, melody and poetry. I wouldn’t miss this gathering with Udita for anything in the world’
Increased Confidence: ‘After the singing group, I feel more vigorous, expansive and generous than I did before- watch out world!’ ‘I gained a lot of confidence to use my voice in different situations- I had lost my confidence because of my health condition. The group gives me confidence to make mistakes- also in daily life!’ ‘It has motivated me to do other creative things. I have more confidence, I feel safe, I let go of embarrassment’ ‘The group has indirectly increased my confidence and daily cheerfulness. When I was a child, I am told I sang all the time, but somehow at some point I stopped, the singing group changed that!’
This evaluation has been heavily supported by current academic literature, particularly the contribution to social capital (Putnam, 2001), social connectedness (Dingle et al, 2012) and enhancement of life satisfaction and wellbeing (Lamont, 2018). The value of the singing groups cannot be underestimated, for both physical and social health.
Thank you to all who have contributed to this project and to Udita, for your enthusiasm and dedication to spreading joy through the power of singing.
Report created by: Emma Clewett, MA Community Psychology
With thanks to: School of Applied Social Science, University of Brighton Dr Helen Johnson
Research: There have been many scientific research projects conducted over the years. The Sidney De Haan Centre is one of the leaders.