Friday, 24 June 2011

Singing is Good for You - Fact!!

This week I went to Nordoff Robbins in Gospel Oak to a Research Seminar about singing and well-being. Speaking at the seminar was Dr Stephen Clift and his Phd student Rita Munro from the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Helath based at Canterbury Christchurch University.

Stephen Clift was discussing his 'network' prject, which created choirs for people with mental health NHS service users, workers and supporters. These choirs showed a marked improvement in the health of the participants, as well as movement from being clinically diagnosed, to less severe forms of their conditions. The project, in partnership with NHS Kent, started in 2007 and has been thriving ever since.

The original group that was set up, 'The Mustard Seed Singers' visited mental health care homes and wards to perform and share their experiences, as well as give invaluable support to potential new singing groups.

Rita Munro, was very interesting. She has no background in music at all, claiming to even find spontaneous acts of singing very difficult, but was a student in behavioural science and psychology and decided to look at the effects of singing on the participants from a purely scientific viewpoint e.g. saliva swabs, hormonal change etc. Her talk was incredibly interesting, particulrly in hearing about her difficulty in getting the samples from the participants, and her movement in understanding of how creative endeavour affects people. Looking at the five points of well-being, outlined by the government recently, these include;

Connect - with people around you.
Be Active - walk, run, cycle, dance, sing......
Take Notice - savour the moment
Keep Learning - makes you more confident and can be fun
Give - do something nice for a friend or a stranger

The singing sessions that took part engaged in all fo these activites, as well as show scientific evidence of improved well-being as a result of their singing.

At the moment I am looking into reader and non-reader choirs, looking at the attributes of 'Kinesensic learning', a phrase coined by Arthur Lessac, and whether the health and well-being benefits are different depending on the type of singer you are. I'll keep you updated.

For more info abotu Sindey De Haan please see -

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