Encyclopedia of Behavioral Medicine

Living Edition
| Editors: Marc Gellman

Singing and Health

  • Genevieve A. DingleEmail author
  • Stephen Clift
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-6439-6_102014-1



Singing in health contexts typically involves participants with one or more health condition(s) gathering to sing together at weekly rehearsals and sometimes performing within a hospital or health service or in the community. Sessions commonly include a series of warm-up exercises, learning new songs as a group, and singing songs already in the singers’ repertoire. Singing groups may be led by musicians, music educators, music therapists, or community musicians. Typically one or more health professionals are in attendance to support participants who require it. Some health choirs are for patients only while others feature patients and staff, or patients and carers, singing together.


Examples of single condition choirs include the “Sing to Live” choir for people affected by breast cancer in Illinois; the “Brainwaves” and “Stroke a Chord” choirs in Australia for adults who have experienced a stroke; “Sing...

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References and Further Reading

  1. Coulton, S., Clift, S., Skingley, A., & Rodriguez, J. (2015). Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of community singing on mental health-related quality of life of older people: Randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 207(3), 250–255.  https://doi.org/10.1192/bjp.bp.113.129908.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Dingle, G. A., Williams, E., Jetten, J., & Welch, J. (2017). Choir singing and creative writing enhance emotion regulation in adults with chronic mental health conditions. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 56(4), 443–457.  https://doi.org/10.1111/bjc.12149.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. Dingle, G., Ellem, R., Davidson, R., Haslam, C., Clift, S., Humby, M., Stathis, A., & Williams, E. (2018). Live wires music program connects and aids cognitive performance of older adults. Paper presented at the Australian Association for cognitive behaviour therapy national conference, Brisbane, 25–27 Oct 2018.Google Scholar
  4. Fancourt, D., Williamon, A., Carvalho, L. A., Steptoe, A., Dow, R., & Lewis, I. (2016). Singing modulates mood, stress, cortisol, cytokine and neuropeptide activity in cancer patients and carers. eCancer, 10, 631.  https://doi.org/10.3332/ecancer.2016.631.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Lewis, A., Cave, P., Stern, M., Welch, L., Taylor, K., Russell, J., Doyle, A., Russell, A., McKee, H., Clift, S., Bott, J., & Hopkinson, N. S. (2016). Singing for lung health – A systematic review of the literature and consensus statement. NPJ Primary Care Respiratory Medicine, 26, 16080.  https://doi.org/10.1038/npjpcrm.2016.80.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. Moss, H., Lynch, J., & O’Donoghue, J. (2018). Exploring the perceived health benefits of singing in a choir: An international cross-sectional mixed-methods study. Perspectives in Public Health, 138(3), 160–168.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913917739652.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Pearce, E., Launay, J., & Dunbar, R. I. M. (2015). The ice-breaker effect: Singing mediates fast social bonding. Royal Society Open Science, 2, 150221.  https://doi.org/10.1098/rsos.150221.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  8. Reagon, C., Gale, N., Dow, R., Lewis, I., & van Duersen, R. (2017). Choir singing and health status in people affected by cancer. European Journal of Cancer Care, 26, e12568.  https://doi.org/10.1111/ecc.12568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Särkämö, T., Tervaniemi, M., Laitinen, S., Numminen, A., Kurki, M., Johnson, J. K., & Rantanen, P. (2013). Cognitive, emotional, and social benefits of regular musical activities in early dementia: Randomized controlled study. The Gerontologist, 54(4), 634–650.  https://doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnt100.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Skingley, A., Clift, S., Hurley, S., Price, S., et al. (2018). Community singing groups for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Participant perspectives. Perspectives in Public Health, 133(1), 66–75.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1757913917740930.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Williams, E., Dingle, G., & Clift, S. (2018). A systematic review of mental health and wellbeing outcomes of group singing for adults with a mental health condition. European Journal of Public Health.  https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/cky115. Accepted 26 May 2018.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of QueenslandBrisbaneAustralia
  2. 2.Sidney de Haan Research Centre for Arts and HealthCanterbury Christ Church UniversityCanterburyUK

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kerry A. Sherman
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Emotional Health, Department of PsychologyMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia