Singing and Health today

This week’s World Mental Health Day reminded me that singing is often linked with physical and mental health. We often see studies purporting to show the benefits of singing, particularly in a choir, and these opportunities are often part of life at hospitals and care homes. In 2012 Stephen Clift reviewed the literature on singing and health, concluding that there was little evidence for the positive effect on physical health, but that singing was clearly beneficial to overall health and wellbeing in many studies (see ‘Singing, Wellbeing, and Health’ in Macdonald et al. Music, Health, & Wellbeing (Oxford, 2012) pp. 113-121). A cross-national survey reported by Clift identified six key ‘mechanisms’ which resonate with some of the reports of patients and attendants  experiencing music in the asylum:

  • positive affect
  • focused concentration
  • controlled breathing
  • social support
  • cognitive stimulation
  • regular commitment