Learning from research about singing and choirs

Singing offers a rich field of discovery for researchers.

One of the key reasons we think more people should and will join choirs is simply because of the science is pointing to the value of regular singing. The act of singing, particularly in group settings like choirs, has long fascinated academics from various fields. Researchers from disciplines such as psychology, musicology, neuroscience, and even medicine have explored the myriad effects and benefits of singing.

What does the research suggest?

In the coming months, we aim to engage with researchers and academics who have past or ongoing projects investigating a variety of topics related to choirs and singing. We aim to invite and feature guest blogs on these topics, so if you work in this field, please get in touch.

To get the ball rolling on a broad understanding, below is an overview of the kinds of research that has been undertaken, accompanied by key some findings, that shows the sheer depth of studies into singing and its many benefits for us.

This is not meant to be an academic review in any way - simply a broad list of topics which indicate the different ways researchers have already looked at the value of group singing.

1. Psychological and Emotional Impact

Research Focus: Studies often center on how group singing can impact mental health, mood, and well-being.

Key Findings:

  • Group singing can release endorphins, leading to feelings of joy and euphoria.
  • Choir participation can alleviate feelings of loneliness and depression.
  • Singing can act as a form of mindfulness, grounding individuals in the present moment.

Referenced Academics/Institutions:

  • Bailey & Davidson (2005) from the University of Sheffield found that singing could help treat depression.
  • The Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health has conducted numerous studies on singing and mental health.

2. Cognitive and Neurological Effects

Research Focus:Exploring how singing and music processing might affect brain activity, memory, and cognition.

Key Findings:

  • Group singing can improve cognitive functioning among the elderly, potentially slowing the onset of dementia.
  • Singing tasks activate a wide array of neural networks across the brain.
  • Learning new songs can enhance memory and concentration.

Referenced Academics/Institutions:

  • Stahl, Kotz, Henseler, Turner, & Geyer (2011) revealed neural correlations between singing, speaking, and brain structure.
  • The Max Planck Institute has shown that singing can increase neural connectivity.

3. Physiological Impact

Research Focus:Understanding how singing affects breathing, posture, cardiovascular health, and the immune system.

Key Findings:

  • Singing can improve lung function and capacity.
  • Group singing can lead to synchronized heart rates among choir members.
  • Regular singing can strengthen the immune system.

Referenced Academics/Institutions:

  • A study from the University of Gothenburg found that choir members' heart rates sync up when they sing together.
  • Gick (2011) discussed how singing promotes well-being and health, particularly concerning lung and respiratory health.

4. Social and Community Benefits

Research Focus:The role of group singing in fostering community, building social bonds, and enhancing a sense of belonging.

Key Findings:

  • Choirs can play a significant role in community building and fostering intergroup relationships.
  • Singing can break down social barriers and lead to enhanced feelings of trust and cooperation.
  • Participation in group singing can enhance feelings of self-worth and belonging.

Referenced Academics/Institutions:

  • Clift & Hancox (2010) from the Canterbury Christ Church University studied the social benefits of choral singing.
  • Kreutz (2014) explored how singing facilitates social bonding and increases pain thresholds.

5. Educational Impacts

Research Focus:The effects of singing on language acquisition, academic performance, and general learning.

Key Findings:

  • Incorporating singing in language lessons can accelerate language learning.
  • School choirs often report higher academic achievement and discipline.
  • Singing can aid in the retention of information.

Referenced Academics/Institutions:

  • Milovanov & Tervaniemi (2011) looked into the relationship between music, including singing, and language learning.
  • Studies at the University of Arkansas have highlighted the academic benefits of school music programs, including choirs.


The world of singing, particularly in group and choir settings, is rich with multifaceted benefits, as demonstrated by academic research. From cognitive and neurological enhancements to profound emotional and social impacts, the act of singing is not only an art but also a catalyst for holistic well-being.

For those standing at the crossroads of life, seeking a positive and transformative change, joining a choir might just be the beacon you need. It offers an avenue not only to discover or reignite a passion for music but also to harness a plethora of physical, emotional, and social benefits that echo well beyond the rehearsal room.

The communal experience of creating harmony with diverse voices serves as a powerful metaphor for unity, resilience, and the beauty of collective endeavor. Whether you're looking for an outlet for self-expression, a boost in mental health, or a sense of belonging within a supportive community, choirs open their arms to people of all backgrounds and skill levels.

Moreover, in a world that often feels fragmented, the choir stands as a testament to the strength of community and the power of collective voice. It's a reminder that when we come together, we can create something beautiful, powerful, and profoundly moving.

So, if you've ever felt the pull of melody or the thrill of harmony, now might be the perfect time to take the leap. Consider joining a local choir. Let your voice blend with others, and in the process, discover the myriad of gifts — both tangible and intangible — that choir singing can bestow upon your life. Dive into the harmonious world of choral singing and let it resonate with and amplify the melodies of your soul.

Written by
Michael Kohn

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