Wellbeing and community support

What do we mean by singing for wellbeing and community support?

Group singing has many benefits for wellbeing, as well as having physical and mental health impacts. There are some contexts where singing is used within community settings to support social cohesion and to shape safe spaces for belonging and emotional expression. Across Scotland there are many examples of diverse uses of singing within specific populations and minority groups. Just some examples of these initiatives have seen singing groups established for individuals experiencing homelessness, community singing initiatives set up in areas of multiple depravation, singing groups that support refugees and asylum seekers, and groups that are part of housing services.

As well as highlighting the role of singing for specific health conditions, our Network aims to raise the visibility of groups that are beneficial more generally. Scotland’s Singing for Health Network feels that these groups have a place within a social prescription model, and so we hope to profile the work going on in communities across Scotland.

Want to find a singing for wellbeing or community support in your area?

If you would like to find a wellbeing or community support group in your area, please visit see the Scotland’s Singing for Health Map. These groups are marked with a yellow and white heart.

What does the research say and where can I access it?

Singing for wellbeing and specific community support initiatives is a huge area of research and practice. Linked below are some open access studies which explore the wellbeing benefits of singing, as well as providing some specific examples of choirs within particular populations and communities.

Clift, S. and Morrison, I. 2011. ‘Group singing fosters mental health and wellbeing: findings from the East Kent “singing for health” network project’, Mental Health and Social Inclusion. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 15(2), pp. 88–97. doi: 10.1108/20428301111140930.

Clift, S. M., Manship, S. and Stephens, L. (2017) Further evidence that singing fosters mental health and wellbeing: The West Kent and Medway project. Mental Health and Social Inclusion, 21 (1). pp. 53-62. ISSN 2042-8308.

Daffern, H., Balmer, K. and Brereton, J. (2021) ‘Singing Together, Yet Apart: The Experience of UK Choir Members and Facilitators During the Covid-19 Pandemic’, Frontiers in Psychology, 12(February), pp. 1–16. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.624474.

Kreutz, G. (2014) ‘Does Singing Facilitate Social Bonding?’, Music and Medicine, 6(2), pp. 51–60.

Lenette, C. and Procopis, B. (2016) ‘“They Change Us”: The social and emotional impacts on music facilitators of engaging in music and singing with asylum seekers’, Music and Arts in Action, 5(2), pp. 55–68.

There are also Restricted-access research papers where you are able to view the abstract and key information about the study or literature review:

Bailey, B. A. and Davidson, J. W. (2003) ‘Amateur group singing as a therapeutic instrument’, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, 12(1), pp. 18–33. doi: 10.1080/08098130309478070.

Bailey, B. A. and Davidson, J. W. (2005) ‘Effects of group singing and performance for marginalized and middle-class singers’, Psychology of Music, 33(3), pp. 269–303. doi: 10.1177/0305735605053734.

Batt-Rawden, K. and Andersen, S. (2020) ‘’Singing has empowered, enchanted and enthralled me’-choirs for wellbeing?’, Health Promotion International, 35(1), pp. 140–150. doi: 10.1093/heapro/day122.

Busch, S. and Gick, M. (2012) ‘A Quantitative Study of Choral Singing and Psychological Well-Being’, Canadian Journal of Music Therapy, 18(1), p. 45.

Dingle, G. A., Brander, C., Ballantyne, J. and Baker, F. A. (2013) ‘“To be heard”: The social and mental health benefits of choir singing for disadvantaged adults’, Psychology of Music, 41(4), pp. 405–421. doi: 10.1177/0305735611430081.

Livesey, L., Morrison, I., Clift, S. and Camic, P. (2012) ‘Benefits of choral singing for social and mental wellbeing: qualitative findings from a cross‐national survey of choir members’, Journal of Public Mental Health. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 11(1), pp. 10–26. doi: 10.1108/17465721211207275.

Moss, H., Lynch, J. and O’Donoghue, J. (2017) ‘Exploring the perceived health benefits of singing in a choir: an international cross-sectional mixed-methods study’, Perspectives in Public Health, 138(3), pp. 160–168. doi: 10.1177/1757913917739652.

de Quadros, A. and Vu, K. T. (2017) ‘At home, song, and fika–portraits of Swedish choral initiatives amidst the refugee crisis’, International Journal of Inclusive Education. Taylor & Francis, 21(11), pp. 1113–1127. doi: 10.1080/13603116.2017.1350319.

Silber, L. (2005) ‘Bars behind bars: the impact of a women’s prison choir on social harmony’, Music Education Research, 7(2), pp. 251–271. doi: 10.1080/14613800500169811.

Sophie Boyd