Five academic studies looking at group singing benefits.

We set up on:song as a way to tackle problems in the workplace, namely poor employee wellbeing, lack of inclusivity, and mental health problems. Through many years of experience we know that singing offers very real and applicable solutions to these problems. To demonstrate this and back up our claims, we summarised five key academic studies looking directly at these benefits.

Overall Summary: The workplace choir is not only fun and enjoyable, but improves teamwork, personal confidence, communication skills, creativity and wellbeing, and reduces stress and workplace absence.

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Study: Sound of well-being – choir singing as an intervention to improve well-being among employees,  Nord University

Findings: Researchers studied 700 people across 21 workplace choirs aiming to reduce absenteeism and improve wellbeing. Measurable differences in wellbeing indicators between participants and non-participants were found in terms of engagement, organizational commitment and self-reported change in psychosocial work environment and overall health. The workplace choir challenged perceptions about how colleagues viewed each other.

Review: The Benefits of Singing in a Choir, The Institute of Education, University of London

Findings: The benefits of singing in a choir are many and various. In particular, there are positive physical outcomes and mental health benefits.
These are related to improved cardiovascular fitness (including lung function), as well as improved mood and general alertness, often allied to a feeling of being spiritually uplifted. Because singing involves many different areas of the brain acting in concert, there are often associated cognitive benefits, such as improvements in children’s reading ability that are linked to increased auditory discrimination that supports phonological development.

“Singing has physical benefits because it is an aerobic activity that increases oxygenation in the blood  stream nd exercises major muscle group in the upper body, even when sitting. Singing has psychological benefits because of its positive effect in reducing stress  levels. Psychological benefits are also evident - the increased sense of community, belonging and shared endeavour."

Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education at IoE

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3.Review: Singing and Health: a Systematic Mapping and Review of Non-Clinical Research, Canterbury Christ Church University

Findings: A major two-year review of existing studies by researchers at Canterbury Christ Church University looked at people taking part in singing groups and the impact it has on their mental health. Singing in a group improved their mental health and significantly reduced levels of anxiety and depression.

Study: It’s Better Together: The psychological benefits of singing in a choir, Oxford NHS Foundation Trust

Findings: This study compared choral singing to two other relevant leisure activities, solo singing and playing a team sport. The study found that choral singers enjoyed a greater feeling of togetherness. Choral singers also  reported that they considered their choirs to be a more coherent or ‘meaningful’ social group than team sport players considered their teams.

Study:Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers, University of Gothenburg in Sweden

Findings: Researchers found that singing in a group leads to the synchronisation of heart rates which is a key factor in maintaining a healthy heart. Björn Vickhoff, Researcher at the Centre for Brain Repair and Rehabilitation, comments “research shows that synchronised heart rates contribute to group solidarity.”

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Greg Staw