Benefits & Research

Benefits of our Activity Sessions

Music and creative activities can play a pivotal role in supporting people through the challenges of isolation, loneliness, bereavement, long and short-term mental or physical ill-health, disability and family caring.

Across the world people are living longer. On the whole, this is good news, but old age can bring challenges that are difficult to manage.

For some, the challenges are minor, for others they are considerable, changing almost every aspect of life and the lives of those around us.

The UK health system is not able to help with all the problems we may face in older age. This means that some of us are pretty much left to navigate health and wellbeing challenges in our own way.

The UK Government and World Health Organization recognises that music and the arts can be instrumental in helping to address complex problems and to maintaining the good health and wellbeing of the nation.

It is known, for example, that singing can help to:

  • Bypass damaged neural networks in the brain and establish new networks
  • Build stronger connections between brain regions e.g. auditory and motor cortex
  • Improve movement and sensory function
  • Connect the processes for thinking about actions and undertaking actions
  • Improve memory, attention and action sequencing
  • Stimulate hormones important for social bonding and feeling good
  • Help with organising and articulating speech.

Benefits in detail

Brain Gym!

When we engage in music, many areas of the brain are stimulated at once.

Activity can help regulate our heart and breathing rate, body temperature and emotions, reduce pain (gammo-aminobutyric acid production) and lay down new neural pathways.

Get Moving!

Movement to music helps the brain’s motor and somatic cortices communicate movement messages to the body more efficiently.

This assists in regulating the smooth flow of movement.

Group singing stimulates the brain to trigger the endocrine system to produce hormones, e.g.:

Cortisol: regulates mood, glucose levels, heal damaged tissues

Melatonin: regulates circadian rhythm, sleep patterns, mood

Oxytocin: aids social bonding/cohesion, absorption of new memories

Group singing can prop up the immune system (immunoglobulin A)

Current research shows that singing and music-making can support overall wellbeing and improve quality of life. Group singing is recommended by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence and World Health Organization.

M4W singing outcomes include:

Exercising parts of the brain used to understand language and to speak

Exercising vocal apparatus, including throat and swallow function (important as we age)

Improvements to overall lung and respiratory health and increased lung capacity

Singing also aids in oxygenating vital and subsidiary organs

Further reading

A scoping review of the evidence on the role of the arts in improving health and well-being by the World Health
Organization: 9789289054553-eng.pdf

All-Party Parliamentary Group on Arts, Health and Wellbeing Inquiry Report on Arts for Health and Wellbeing:
Creative_Health_Inquiry_Report_2017_-_Second_Edition.pdf (

Evaluation report on harnessing music to improve our health, wellbeing and communities by Music for Dementia: Power-of-Music-Report-Final-Pages.pdf (

Frühholz S, Trost W, Grandjean D. The role of the medial temporal limbic system in processing emotions in voice and music. Prog
Neurobiol. 2014 Dec;123:1-17. doi: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2014.09.003. Epub 2014 Oct 5. PMID: 25291405.
Irons, Y., Sheffield, D., Ballington, F. & Stewart, D. (2019) A systematic review on the effects of group singing on persistent pain in people
with long‐term health conditions. European Journal of Pain, 24:71–90.
Kleber, B. & Zarate, M. (2014) The Neuroscience of Singing. In Welch, G., Howard, D.& Nix. J. The Oxford Handbook of Singing: Oxford
University Press
Kreutz, G., Bongard, S., Rohrmann, S., Hodapp, V. and Grebe, D. (2004) ‘Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory
Immunoglobulin A, Cortisol, and Emotional State’, Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 27 (6), pp. 623-635
Kumar, A, Tims, F., Cruess, D., Mintzer, M., Ironson, G., Loewenstein, D., et al. (1999). ‘Music therapy increases serum melatonin levels
in patients with Alzheimer’s disease’, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 5(6), pp. 49-57
Skingley, A., & Bungay, H. (2010) The Silver Song Club Project: Singing to promote the health of older people. British Journal of
Community Nursing, 15, 3, 135-40
Skingley, A., Martin, A., & Clift, S. (2015) The contribution of community singing groups to the well-being of older people: Participant
perspectives from the UK. Journal of Applied Gerontology, available online pre-publication, 1-23
Vickhoff, B., Malmgren, H., Åström, R. et al. (2013) Music structure determines heart rate variability of singers
Frontiers in Psychology.
Wydenbach, N & Vella-Burrows, T. (2020) Singing for People with Parkinson’s. Devon, UK: Compton Publishing.

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