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The present study investigates the effects of choir music on secretory immunoglobulin A (S-IgA), cortisol, and emotional states in members of a mixed amateur choir. Subjects participated in two conditions during two rehearsals 1 week apart, namely singing versus listening to choral music. Saliva samples and subjective measures of affect were taken both before each session and 60 min later. Repeated measure analyses of variance were conducted for positive and negative affect scores, S-IgA, and cortisol. Results indicate several significant effects. In particular, singing leads to increases in positive affect and S-IgA, while negative affect is reduced. Listening to choral music leads to an increase in negative affect, and decreases in levels of cortisol. These results suggest that choir singing positively influences both emotional affect and immune competence. The observation that subjective and physiological responses differed between listening and singing conditions invites further investigation of task factors.
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Journal of Behavioral Medicine, Vol. 27, No. 6, December 2004 (
C
2004)
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening
on Secretory Immunoglobulin A,
Cortisol, and Emotional State
Gunter Kreutz,
1,3
Stephan Bongard,
2
Sonja Rohrmann,
2
Volker Hodapp,
2
and Dorothee Grebe
1
Accepted for publication: November 11, 2003
The present study investigates the effects of choir music on secretory im-
munoglobulin A (S-IgA), cortisol, and emotional states in members of a mixed
amateur choir. Subjects participated in two conditions during two rehearsals
1 week apart, namely singing versus listening to choral music. Saliva samples
and subjective measures of affect were taken both before each session and 60
min later. Repeated measure analyses of variance were conducted for positive
and negative affect scores, S-IgA, and cortisol. Results indicate several sig-
nificant effects. In particular, singing leads to increases in positive affect and
S-IgA, while negative affect is reduced. Listening to choral music leads to an
increase in negative affect, and decreases in levels of cortisol. These results sug-
gest that choir singing positively influences both emotional affect and immune
competence. The observation that subjective and physiological responses dif-
fered between listening and singing conditions invites further investigation of
task factors.
KEY WORDS: singing; S-IgA; cortisol; emotion.
1
Department of Music Education, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main,
Frankfurt, Germany.
2
Department of Psychology, Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main,
Frankfurt, Germany.
3
To whom correspondence should be addressed at Department of Music Education, J. W.
Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Sophienstrasse 1-3, D-60487 Frankfurt am Main,
Germany; e-mail: G.Kreutz@em.uni-frankfurt.de.
623
0160-7715/04/1200-0623/0
C
2004 Springer Science+Business Media, Inc.
624 Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, and Grebe
INTRODUCTION
Since the times of Plato, artists and scientists alike have been intrigued
by the power of music to elicit strong emotional responses in humans and
animals. The Greek philosophers were among the first in the Western culture
to speculate about specific effects of music on bodily chemistry, and subjec-
tive feelings (Levman, 2000). For example, they were convinced that music
benefited health and specific recommendations were formulated for using
music therapeutically against mental and physical illness (Bruhn, 2000).
Empirical research over the past decades has addressed the psychophys-
iological effects of music listening with some emphasis on the responses of
the autonomous nervous system (ANS) (e.g., Goldstein, 1980; Kreutz et al.,
2002a,b; Panksepp, 1995). In general, this research suggests that listeners’
subjective experience is at least in part mediated by physiological responses
to music stimuli (Bartlett, 1996). However, few studies were able to relate
peripheral ANS responses to emotional experiences of music (Krumhansl,
1997; Nyclicek et al., 1997). To date, this research did not yet provide re-
liable evidence for associations between music and health related ANS
variables.
It appears well established that the ANS profoundly affects immune
functions (Ader et al., 1991). Most of the studies reviewed below have
used secretory IgA (S-IgA) as a marker of immune competence (Stone
et al., 1987b). S-IgA is a protein considered as the body’s first line of de-
fense against bacterial and viral infections of the upper respiratory pathway
(Tomasi, 1972). In particular, S-IgA was found more strongly influenced via
the sympathetic rather than the parasympathetic branch of the ANS (Ring
et al., 1999). There is general consensus that S-IgA is specifically responsive
to an individual’s emotional state (Rein and McCraty, 1995). Increases of
S-IgA were often observed in the context of positive and/or relaxing experi-
ences (e.g., Green and Green, 1987; Stone et al., 1987a), whereas S-IgA often
decreased in studies on the emotional impact of stressful events (Martin and
Dobbin, 1988) and intense physical effort (Mackinnon and Hooper, 1994).
Research on the effects of music listing on immune system and emo-
tional stress are receiving increasing attention in behavioral medicine (Pratt
and Spintge, 1996). Several studies have specifically looked at the relation-
ship between music listening, subjective mood, and immune competence.
Music listening may significantly influence immune functions via the ANS
(McCraty et al., 1996). In particular, S-IgA increased in the context of music
listening and relaxation (Tsao et al., 1992; see also Van Rood et al., 1993).
Individual music preferences and context factors appear to be important in
mediating these effects. Therefore, music may benefit patients in individ-
ual treatment formats (e.g., McKinney et al., 1997a). McCraty et al. (1996)
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A 625
concluded that music listening may enhance the benecial effects of self-
induced positive mood on immunity.
McKinney et al. (1997b) found that the combination of classical music
and spontaneous imagery led to signicant decreases in beta-endorphin, a
hormone which is believed to be related to emotional stress (Panksepp et al.,
1979). Gerra et al. (1998) extended these ndings using classical and techno
music. They found correlations between personality traits such as novelty-
seeking or harm avoidance and musically-induced endocrine responses, also
including beta-endorphin.
In lieu of increasing evidence that music listening may inuence immune
competence and physiological stress in adult listeners (Pratt and Spintge,
1996), there is no comparable research on the conceivably enhancing effects
of more active musical behaviors than listening. For example, the emotional
effect of singing on the organism of the singer is yet poorly understood, al-
though singing is probably the most common everyday musical activity ob-
servable in all cultures (Nettle, 2000). In a pioneering study, Beck et al. (1999)
looked at the endocrine effects of singing in professional chorale singers. The
authors were interested in the effects of three singing conditions (two dif-
ferent rehearsals and one performance) on changes of S-IgA and cortisol.
Cortisol is a hormone associated with emotional stress (Kirschbaum and
Hellhammer, 1994). Beck et al. (1999) found strong increases of S-IgA in
each condition. For instance, during the performance S-IgA levels went up
by more than 350% in nearly 25% of the singers. Levels of cortisol, by con-
trast, were found to decrease in the rehearsal conditions only, but increased
signicantly during the performance. These results suggested different ef-
fects of singing on S-IgA and cortisol. A further nding of the Beck et al.
study was that according to a multiple regression analysis several subjective
measures associated with positive attitudes toward singing predicted changes
in S-IgA. To explain these ndings it was speculated that breathing patterns
induced by singing as well as positive mood change might contribute to the
observed S-IgA increases.
More recent studies tend to corroborate subjective positive mood ef-
fects and health benets of singing in groups (Clift and Hancox, 2001; Grape
et al., in press; Unwin et al., 2002; Valentine and Evans, 2001). However, it
is yet not clear whether and to what extent the observed effects could be
attributed to mere passive exposure to musical sound, rather than active
physical engagement in singing. As shown above, listening to music alone
may induce a variety of signicant endocrine effects, even irrespective of
subjectsmusical training (Bartlett, 1996; McCraty et al., 1996).
On the basis of these previous ndings, the purpose of the present
study was to compare subjective and physiological responses produced by
group singing with those elicited by listening to music and to establish any
626 Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, and Grebe
differences as subjects processed the same musical materials in these con-
ditions. It was hypothesized that both singing and listening enhance specic
immune functions as well as they lead to positive changes of affective states.
Therefore, we expected signicant increases in S-IgA and subjective positive
emotional state as well as signicant decreases of cortisol and negative emo-
tional state after singing and after listening to choral music, but that these
effects were more pronounced in the singing condition.
METHODS
Participants
Thirty-one members (23 female) of an amateur choir participated in
this study. Participants age ranged from 29 to 74 years (M = 56.9 years,
SD = 14.8 years). As assessed by a questionnaire, none of the participants
reported smoking more than 10 cigarettes per day or drinking more than
5 alcoholic drinks per week. On a questionnaire, subjects did not indicate
acute health problems with respect to respiration or cardiovascular system.
All subjects gave informed consent individually.
Design and Procedure
After informed consent was obtained from all participants, the exper-
imental conditions for this study were realized in two sessions at the same
location in the rehearsal room of a church at the regular time of that choirs
rehearsal between 6 and 7 p.m. The sessions were conducted 1 week apart
and lasted for 60 min each. Participants were instructed not to take in any
meals, or alcoholic drinks, and refrain from smoking within 1 h before the
start of the rehearsal.
Before the rst session started, each participant lled in a demographic
questionnaire. Moreover, before each of the two sessions, a psychometric
scale for the measurement of emotional state (Positive and Negative Affect
Schedule, PANAS; Krohne et al., 1996; Watson et al., 1988) was completed.
The PANAS consists of 20 items, 10 representing positive affect (e.g., I feel
ne), and 10 items representing negative affect (e.g., I feel depressed).
Participants were asked to mark each of the items on a scale from 1 (very
little or not at all)to5(extremely) according to their current feeling.
The PANAS was lled in once again at the end of each session. Also, at
the beginning and at the end of each session, saliva was collected using a
standard procedure (see next section).
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A 627
Singing Condition
The singing condition was initiated by a 10-min warm-up phase, in which
various breathing, stretching, and vocalization exercises were performed.
For the rest of the session, sections and pieces from Mozarts Requiem were
rehearsed, and instructions by the conductor were given to the choir. Par-
ticipants stood during the warm-up, whereas they remained seated for the
rest of the time. Times of interruptions by the conductor were measured and
approximated 10 min of the rehearsal time.
Listening Condition
During the second session 1 week later, the pieces from Mozarts Re-
quiem were presented from CD, and articles on singing from an eighteenth
century encyclopedia of the arts (Sulzer, 1967) were read aloud. Participants
were seated during the entire session. When music was played, they were
instructed to listen to the music attentively as if they were engaged in singing.
Moreover, it was ensured that listening to speech and music under the lis-
tening condition had the same proportion as singing and listening to the
conductor under the singing condition.
Saliva Collection and Assaying
Saliva was collected with Sarstedt Salivettes
®
. This device consists of
a plastic tube containing a cotton wool swab. Subjects were asked to insert
the swab into their mouth and were instructed not to swallow saliva for a
5-min period. Afterwards this cotton wool swab was placed back into the
tube. Saliva samples were centrifuged at 4000 × g for 10 min and then were
kept at 30
C until assayed.
Measured parameters in saliva samples were immunoglobulin A, al-
bumin, and cortisol. Albumin levels served both as an exclusion criterion
for blood contaminated saliva samples and for correcting the S-IgA mea-
sures for effects of saliva ow density. Because albumin leaks passively into
saliva from systemic sources, its concentration reects mucosal membrane
permeability. The ratio of S-IgA to albumin thus provides an indication of
the local secretory immune response controlling for any serum leakage of
IgA (Cripps et al., 1991; Drummond and Hewson-Bower, 1996).
After thawing, saliva was analyzed for concentrations of S-IgA and
albumin by use of a fully automated nephometric analyses (BN100, Dade
Behring, Marburg, FRG). The assay protocol has been adapted to the ex-
pected range for saliva concentrations of S-IgA between 0 and 120 mg/dL
628 Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, and Grebe
and albumin (027 mg/dL), respectively using highly specic monoclonal
antibodies for human S-IgA and albumin (Dade Behring). Previous mea-
sures revealed extremely high intra- and interassay precision which can be
expected in general for protein analysis and which justies single measure-
ments of samples in clinical practice.
Saliva cortisol was determined using a commercial luminescence-
immuno assay (IBL, Hamburg, FRG) especially designed for saliva sam-
ples and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Pipetting
of standards, samples, and reagents was performed by a fully automated
system (Labotech, Freiburg, FRG).
Luminescence units were read by use of an automatic luminometer
(Beckmann, FRG). All samples were measured in duplicates with sufcient
intra-assay precision (coefcient of variance, CV < 6%). All samples were
analyzed with assays obtained from the same charge to reduce interassay
variation, which was lower than 10%.
Saliva analyses were conducted at the lab of Prof. Dr. J. Hennig at the
Department of Psychology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany (for
more details see: Hennig et al., 1999).
Data Analysis
Positive and negative affect sum scores were calculated for the two con-
ditions. To determine any signicant changes of positive and negative affect,
two repeated measures analyses of variance (ANOVA) were conducted for
each of the two scores. Similarly, S-IgA/albumin and cortisol values were
submitted to two separate repeated measures ANOVAs. In all analyses,
condition (singing versus listening) and time (baseline and after treatment)
served as independent variables. In addition, to determine statistical rela-
tionships between subjective and physiological changes, Pearsons product
moment correlations were calculated.
RESULTS
Psychological Measures
Mean scores of positive and negative affect ratings before and after the
two conditions are presented in Table I. Data from three subjects were not
included due to large proportions of missing values.
An ANOVA for positive affect values indicated no signicant main
effect of condition, F(1, 27) = 3.08, p = 0.09, or time, F(1, 27) = 1.30,
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A 629
Table I. Means (and Standard Deviations) of Positive and Negative Affect Ratings for
the Two Experimental Conditions at Baseline and After Treatment
Positive affect Negative affect
Baseline After treatment Baseline After treatment
Singing 2.86 (0.51) 3.15 (0.64) 1.31 (0.4) 1.18 (0.24)
Listening 2.85 (0.67) 2.79 (0.81) 1.23 (0.25) 2.20 (0.31)
Note. Scores of each scale were divided by the number of items.
p = 0.26. However, there was a signicant interaction between time and
conditions, F(1, 27) = 6.41, p < 0.02. Follow-up Tukeys HSD tests of sim-
ple effects revealed that positive affect increased signicantly after singing
(p < 0.05), but not after listening. An ANOVA which addressed nega-
tive affects scores revealed highly signicant main effects for condition,
F(1, 27) = 95.71, p < 0.001, time, F(1, 27) = 113.57, p < 0.001, and a signif-
icant interaction between the two factors, F(1, 27) = 145.91, p < 0.001. Post
hoc Tukeys HSD-Tests of simple effects indicated a signicant decrease of
negative affect after singing ( p < 0.05), and a signicant increase of negative
affect after listening (p < 0.05).
Physiological Measures
Table II presents mean S-IgA/albumin and cortisol values at baseline
and after treatment.
An ANOVA of S-IgA/albumin values revealed a highly signicant main
effect of condition, F(1, 30) = 10.41, p < 0.005, but no signicant main
effect of time, F(1, 30) = 0.24, p = 0.62. As predicted, there was a signicant
interaction between time and condition, F(1, 30) = 4.32, p < 0.05 on S-
IgA/albumin. Follow-up Tukeys HSD-Tests of simple effects indicated a
highly signicant increase of S-IgA/albumin for the singing condition (p <
Table II. Means (and Standard Deviations) of S-IgA/Albumin and Cortisol Values Before
and After Treatment for the Two Experimental Conditions
S-IgA/albumin Cortisol [ng/mL]
Baseline After treatment Baseline After treatment
Singing 3.66 (3.15) 5.28 (5.26) 0.75 (0.67) 0.59 (0.48)
Listening 4.10 (4.20) 4.49 (3.78) 0.81 (0.61) 0.48 (0.27)
Note. S-IgA/albumin is without unit because the units for both parameters are identical
(mg/dL).
630 Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, and Grebe
Fig. 1. Means and standard errors of S-IgA/albumin values before and after singing choral
music and listening to choral music respectively.
0.005), but no signicant changes for the listening condition (p = 0.79).
Figure 1 illustrates the signicant condition by time interaction on mean
S-IgA/albumin values.
An ANOVA, which addressed cortisol values, revealed a signicant
main effect of time, F(1, 30) = 10.30, p < 0.005, but no further effects.
However, since we had specic hypotheses considering different effects
of singing versus listening on cortisol responses, we did pairwise compar-
isons of baseline and after treatment values for both conditions separately.
These analyses indicated that cortisol decreased signicantly from baseline
to after treatment in the listening condition, F(1, 28) = 12.14; p < 0.001,
but did not change signicantly in the singing condition, F(1, 30) = 2.56;
p > 0.1.
Pearson correlations between changes in subjective and physiological
measures were calculated separately for the two conditions. Out of eight
coefcients, only one turned out to be signicant: changes of positive mood
during listening correlated signicantly with changes of cortisol levels, r =
0.40, p < 0.05.
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A 631
DISCUSSION
This study demonstrated psychophysiological effects of choral singing
and listening to choral music. We found different patterns of changes for
S-IgA, cortisol, and subjects emotional state with respect to the two ex-
perimental conditions. Singing led to a decrease in negative mood and an
increase in positive mood and S-IgA, but did not affect cortisol responses.
Listening on the other hand led to an increase in negative mood, a decrease
in cortisol, and no signicant changes in positive mood and S-IgA.
These results support the hypothesis, that choir singing inuences posi-
tive emotions as well as immune functions in humans. They conrm previous
ndings which showed that singing inuences subjective emotional states
positively (Unwin et al., 2002) and enhances the immune defence (Beck
et al., 1999). These studies corroborate the notion that musically-induced
changes of S-IgA are mediated by subjective mood (McCraty et al., 1996;
Rein and McCraty, 1995).
Contrary to expectations, we observed a decrease of cortisol only for
the listening condition but not for the singing condition. On one hand, de-
creases of cortisol levels suggest psychological deactivation, relaxation, and
stress reduction. On the other hand, it is known that cortisol levels decrease
during the waking hours of human subjects (Kirschbaum and Hellhammer,
1994). This decrease is relatively steep in the morning but slows down in the
afternoon. Given the fact that in the present study all measures were taken
between 6 and 7 p.m. it is rather unlikely that the observed decrease of about
60% within 60 min in the listening condition is only due to the diurnal ef-
fect. The observation that listening also led to an increase in negative mood
suggests that the listening condition was at least partly experienced as un-
exciting, boring, and deactivating by our participants. This interpretation is
very reasonable given the fact that the main objective for these amateur cho-
risters is the production but not the reception of music. The singing condition
on the other hand may have prevented against deactivation and decrease in
cortisol. Moreover, Beck et al. (1999) showed that the performance situation
(rehearsal versus public concert) inuenced the direction of changes of cor-
tisol levels, which decreased during the rehearsals but increased during the
public performance. The authors reasoned that the latter were emotionally
more demanding than rehearsals.
The observed decrease of cortisol levels following the listening period,
while participants reported increased negative mood in the same condition,
is consistent with previous work (Davis and Thaut, 1989), which indicated
that music listeners can present contradictory responses on psychological
and physiological measures. One possible explanation for this dissociation
632 Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, and Grebe
is that music expressing negative emotions, e.g., grief or sadness, is often
experienced as relaxing and soothing (V¨astfj¨all, 2002).
Positive emotions increased after singing, and negative emotions in-
creased after listening. Why did listening to the music not result in the same
subjective responses as singing? Many people report that they enjoy listen-
ing to music in a group setting such as attending a public concert. But again,
it must be kept in mind, that the primary goal of a regular choir rehearsal is
to practice singing. The experimental intervention required by the listening
condition, therefore, was in conict with the routine rehearsal procedure,
and with the intensions and expectations of the individual choristers. In ad-
dition, choristers are more focused on vocal control, watching the music
sheet and the conductor, and listening to their fellow singers during singing
than during listening. Finally, previous studies have addressed the affective
impact of lyrics (Stratton and Zalanowski, 1994), but it is unclear, whether
and to what extent the contents of the lyrics are differentially perceived
during listening as compared to singing. We assume, that the emotionally
negative connotations of the requiem might have had a stronger impact on
affective responses during listening than during singing.
Limitations of the present study should be noted. First, in this study,
there was only one large piece of classical music included. Thus it remains
to be seen, whether our ndings can be generalized across different styles
and genres of music as well as across the selection method of the musical
materials (Thaut and Davis, 1993). Second, as this study was conducted with
choral singers in a group setting, questions arise as to whether similar effects
may be found in solo singing (Valentine and Evans, 2001). Third, we did not
control for physical activity, which is known to inuence mucosal immune
system responses (Mackinnon and Hooper, 1994). For our subjects singing
was physically more demanding than just listening. Future research should
investigate whether and to what degree the observed effect of singing on
S-IgA might be explained by different degrees of physical activity.
Finally, it seems worth to note that humans are not the only species
to exhibit relationships between singing and immune functions (Duffy and
Ball, 2002). One might speculate, that similar relationships as in this study
may be detected in other primates, as vocal production in these species is
directly related to emotional affect and stress-regulation (Grossmann, 2000;
Hauser, 2000).
In sum, the present study shows that amateur group singing leads to
increases in both positive affect and the production of salivary immunoglob-
ulin A, a protein considered as the rst line of defense against respiratory
infections. It replicates previous work demonstrating an association between
singing and immune function, and suggests a possible inuence of musical
behavior on well-being and health.
Effects of Choir Singing or Listening on Secretory Immunoglobulin A 633
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
This study was supported by a grant of the Deutscher S ¨angerbund e. V.
(German Singers Association). We are grateful to two anonymous reviewers
for their valuable suggestions.
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... Numerous studies have indicated that group singing benefits mental health and wellbeing (Clift & Hancox, 2010;Clift & Morrison, 2011;Williams et al., 2018). Shortterm studies testing the prediction that participation in choirs improves wellbeing have demonstrated differences between intervention and control groups on a range of measures, including improved affective state, increased sense of social connection, and changes in biomarkers of wellbeing, such as cortisol concentrations, pain tolerance and oxytocin levels (Bullack et al., 2018;Cohen et al., 2006;Coulton et al., 2015;Kirschner & Tomasello, 2010;Kreutz, 2014;Kreutz et al., 2004;Pearce et al., 2015Pearce et al., , 2017Sanal & Gorsev, 2014). The focus on the components of the choir experience may be masking the way that the attitudes that the individual brings to the activity contribute to wellbeing, and as a result the design of these studies may limit the conclusions that can be drawn as to the strength or uniqueness of these effects (Maury & Rickard, 2018). ...
... The focus on the components of the choir experience may be masking the way that the attitudes that the individual brings to the activity contribute to wellbeing, and as a result the design of these studies may limit the conclusions that can be drawn as to the strength or uniqueness of these effects (Maury & Rickard, 2018). First, several studies have compared singing with non-singing members of a choir (Bullack et al., 2018;Kreutz et al., 2004;Sanal & Gorsev, 2014). In each of these studies, the differences between the groups are attributed to the positive impact of group singing. ...
... For example, the research conducted by Bullack et al. (2018) used members of a choir as a non-singing control group who retained both music exposure and social interactions and still experienced a decline in mood state and sense of social connection. Kreutz et al. (2004) reported similar findings: increased negative affect scores were obtained from a choir that forwent practice to listen to music, thereby retaining both music listening and socialising. The lack of differences between the intervention and control groups in the current study may be attributable to each group having chosen to participate in their preferred activity. ...
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As populations age, it is critical to understand how psycho-social wellbeing supports successful ageing. The health sector is increasingly asking how best to improve social connection and affective state because of their positive influence on overall health. Choral participation has been proposed as a particularly effective way to improve socio-emotional wellbeing, due to benefits of music exposure, social opportunities, and the act of singing. It may be, however, that improvements in wellbeing are also dependent on individual attitudes towards participation, including preference, motivation, and exercising agency. There is a need for studies that account for the influence of choice and preference as they may predict benefits for wellbeing. Findings are presented here from a quasi-experimental study exploring whether choral participation yields greater benefits for wellbeing in the long term (seven months) than does participation in an exercise group that shares some of the nonspecific characteristics of choirs such as social interaction and exposure to music. Emotional wellbeing increased for both groups, while there was a small but significant decrease in mental wellbeing for both groups between the first and second time points; no other statistically significant changes were observed. Analysis of qualitative data indicated that members of choirs found the act of singing to be intrinsically rewarding, while members of exercise groups relied instead on the benefits of social interaction to keep them committed to an exercise regime; however, themes such as the importance of social connection, confidence, improved mental and emotional state, and overall improved wellbeing were common to both groups. Effects on the wellbeing of the members of the two kinds of group did not differ significantly despite differences in their self-reported motivation for joining and participating. No changes were observed in measures of social connection or empathy across the length of the study.
... Numerous studies have indicated that group singing benefits mental health and wellbeing (Clift & Hancox, 2010;Clift & Morrison, 2011;Williams et al., 2018). Shortterm studies testing the prediction that participation in choirs improves wellbeing have demonstrated differences between intervention and control groups on a range of measures, including improved affective state, increased sense of social connection, and changes in biomarkers of wellbeing, such as cortisol concentrations, pain tolerance and oxytocin levels (Bullack et al., 2018;Cohen et al., 2006;Coulton et al., 2015;Kirschner & Tomasello, 2010;Kreutz, 2014;Kreutz et al., 2004;Pearce et al., 2015Pearce et al., , 2017Sanal & Gorsev, 2014). The focus on the components of the choir experience may be masking the way that the attitudes that the individual brings to the activity contribute to wellbeing, and as a result the design of these studies may limit the conclusions that can be drawn as to the strength or uniqueness of these effects (Maury & Rickard, 2018). ...
... The focus on the components of the choir experience may be masking the way that the attitudes that the individual brings to the activity contribute to wellbeing, and as a result the design of these studies may limit the conclusions that can be drawn as to the strength or uniqueness of these effects (Maury & Rickard, 2018). First, several studies have compared singing with non-singing members of a choir (Bullack et al., 2018;Kreutz et al., 2004;Sanal & Gorsev, 2014). In each of these studies, the differences between the groups are attributed to the positive impact of group singing. ...
... For example, the research conducted by Bullack et al. (2018) used members of a choir as a non-singing control group who retained both music exposure and social interactions and still experienced a decline in mood state and sense of social connection. Kreutz et al. (2004) reported similar findings: increased negative affect scores were obtained from a choir that forwent practice to listen to music, thereby retaining both music listening and socialising. The lack of differences between the intervention and control groups in the current study may be attributable to each group having chosen to participate in their preferred activity. ...
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This research compared older members of choirs and exercise groups over 7 months to track whether longer-term improvements of wellbeing could be measured. We found increases in emotional wellbeing for both groups and a decrease in mental wellbeing between Time 1 and Time 2. No changes were found in sense of social connection or empathy. Qualitative responses indicated similar identified benefits for both groups on social connection, confidence, emotional wellbeing, cognitive benefits and overall improved wellbeing. Motivation differed between the groups, with choir members intrinsically motivated but exercise group members relying on the social aspects to keep them committed to an exercise regime.
... There is a similar growing body of evidence for the individual benefits of group singing in terms of wellbeing Clift et al. 2017;Shakespeare and Whieldon 2017;Dingle et al. 2019), emotion regulation (Dingle et al. 2017) and physical health, particularly in relation to respiratory function and treatment of Parkinson's Disease (BBC Health Check 2018; Kreutz et al. 2003Kreutz et al. , 2004Skingley et al. 2011;Morrison and Clift 2013), again with similar challenges relating to isolating particular effects because of the polyvalent complexity of group singing as an activity. ...
... There is a similar growing body of evidence for the individual benefits of group singing in terms of wellbeing Clift et al. 2017;Shakespeare and Whieldon 2017;Dingle et al. 2019), emotion regulation (Dingle et al. 2017) and physical health, particularly in relation to respiratory function and treatment of Parkinson's Disease (BBC Health Check 2018; Kreutz et al. 2003Kreutz et al. , 2004Skingley et al. 2011;Morrison and Clift 2013), again with similar challenges relating to isolating particular effects because of the polyvalent complexity of group singing as an activity. ...
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This is an 'open access' article - read it here: https://rdcu.be/b55Rj A growing body of evidence points to a wide range of benefits arising from participation in group singing. Group singing requires participants to engage with each other in a simultaneous musical dialogue in a pluralistic and emergent context, creating a coherent cultural expression through the reflexive negotiation of (musical) meaning manifest in the collective power of the human voice. As such, group singing might be taken—both literally and figuratively—as a potent form of ‘healthy public’, creating an ‘ideal’ community, which participants can subsequently mobilise as a positive resource for everyday life. The experiences of a group of singers (n = 78) who had participated in an outdoor singing project were collected and analysed using a three-layer research design consisting of: distributed data generation and interpretation, considered against comparative data from other singing groups (n = 88); a focus group workshop (n = 11); an unstructured interview (n = 2). The study confirmed an expected perception of the social bonding effect of group singing, highlighting affordances for interpersonal attunement and attachment alongside a powerful individual sense of feeling ‘uplifted’. This study presents a novel perspective on group singing, highlighting the importance of participant experience as a means of understanding music as a holistic and complex adaptive system. It validates findings about group singing from previous studies—in particular the stability of the social bonding effect as a less variant characteristic in the face of environmental and other situational influences, alongside its capacity for mental health recovery. It establishes a subjective sociocultural and musical understanding of group singing, by expanding on these findings to centralise the importance of individual experience, and the consciousness of that experience as descriptive and reflective self-awareness. The ways in which participants describe and discuss their experiences of group singing and its benefits points to a complex interdependence between a number of musical, neurobiological and psychosocial mechanisms, which might be independently and objectively analysed. An emerging theory is that at least some of the potency of group singing is as a resource where people can rehearse and perform ‘healthy’ relationships, further emphasising its potential as a resource for healthy publics.
... The therapeutic benefits of singing have long been suspected, and this has now been supported by quantitative evidence (Clark & Harding, 2012). Lower levels of negative feelings and higher levels of positive feelings have both been related to regular amateur singing (Grape et al., 2003;Kreutz et al., 2004). Alongside this, evidence suggests that singing may induce significant physiological benefits, such as decreased cortisol levels and improved immune response (Beck, Cesario, Yousefi, & Enamoto, 2000;Beck, Gottfried, Hall, Cisler, & Bozeman, 2006;Grape et al., 2003;Kreutz et al., 2004;Valentine & Evans, 2001). ...
... Lower levels of negative feelings and higher levels of positive feelings have both been related to regular amateur singing (Grape et al., 2003;Kreutz et al., 2004). Alongside this, evidence suggests that singing may induce significant physiological benefits, such as decreased cortisol levels and improved immune response (Beck, Cesario, Yousefi, & Enamoto, 2000;Beck, Gottfried, Hall, Cisler, & Bozeman, 2006;Grape et al., 2003;Kreutz et al., 2004;Valentine & Evans, 2001). Indeed, a recent systematic review highlighted the possible psychosocial benefits of singing as a therapeutic intervention (Clark & Harding, 2012). ...
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This study compared the psychological well-being of choral singers to those who took part in five other activities: solo singers, band/orchestra members, solo musicians, team sport players, and solo sport players. These comparison groups were chosen because they each share (or lack) three key features of choral singing: (a) singing, (b) the production of music, and (c) membership of a social group or team. A total of 194 participants completed an online questionnaire to assess their well-being and the extent to which their chosen activity satisfies their psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. Analysis indicated that participants who sang in a choir reported similar levels of psychological well-being, happiness, anxiety, depression, and self-esteem to those who took part in the other five leisure activities. Significant differences were found on measures of autonomy and relatedness, but participants in all six groups also reported experiencing similar levels of competence when engaged in their chosen leisure activity. These findings suggest choral singing may not be uniquely beneficial, and any leisure activity that offers opportunities for improvement, mastery of a new skill, or a sense of accomplishment might have a positive effect on our psychological well-being.
... Musical activities such as singing are often perceived as enjoyable, thus enhancing positive affect in both adults (Kreutz, Bongard, Rohrmann, Hodapp, & Grebe, 2004) and children (Welch et al., 2009). The mediating effect of positive affect may be particularly important in L2 learning, as the learning process often has ruptures and regressions. ...
Article
Singing has been advocated as an efficient supplementary strategy in language teaching, but little is known about its effect on grammar learning. We conducted an intervention study (five lessons) with primary EFL learners (N = 57, mean age = 8.67, SD = 0.60) who were taught new vocabulary and grammar through either singing or speaking lyrics. The control group had new vocabulary introduced during regular lessons. Language gains were assessed through pre-, post-, and follow-up tests; affect was measured after each lesson. Students in the singing group showed similar vocabulary gains to students in the control group and larger gains than students in the speaking group. Importantly, singing students outperformed both groups on spelling and grammar learning. Positive affect was similar across intervention groups, but only the singing group showed significantly enhanced positive affect compared to the control group. Overall, results indicate a potential benefit of singing for grammar learning.
... Overall, whilst there is a clear trend for increased endogenous oxytocin and reduced cortisol in subjects involved in musical activities, more controlled trials are needed in this area because communal music experiences are prime examples of human social engagement. From a physiological and psychosocial perspective, group music-making such as choral singing increases connectedness, heightens empathy, reduces depression and improves mood, is arousing and stimulates cognition, and has systemic health benefits including improved immune competency, reduced cytokine and inflammatory markers, lowered blood pressure and reduced cortisol and ACTH levels (Kuhn, 2002;Khalfa et al., 2003;Kreutz et al., 2004;Dunbar et al., 2012;Fancourt et al., 2014;Keeler et al., 2015;Pearce et al., 2015;Stewart and Lonsdale, 2016;Johnson et al., 2017;Ooishi et al., 2017;Finn and Fancourt, 2018;Kang et al., 2018;Moss et al., 2018;Perkins et al., 2018;Walker et al., 2019). The impact of exogenous oxytocin is relevant here because of the positive effect that it has on individual stress levels and the promotion of group empathy, reciprocal trust and collective social decision making, all involving a shift from personal to group agency (Zak and Berroza, 2013;Chen et al., 2016;De Dreu and Kret, 2016;De Wilde et al., 2017;Ten Velden et al., 2017;Sicorello et al., 2020;Xu et al., 2020). ...
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The human species possesses two complementary, yet distinct, universal communication systems—language and music. Functional imaging studies have revealed that some core elements of these two systems are processed in closely related brain regions, but there are also clear differences in brain circuitry that likely underlie differences in functionality. Music affects many aspects of human behavior, especially in encouraging prosocial interactions and promoting trust and cooperation within groups of culturally compatible but not necessarily genetically related individuals. Music, presumably via its impact on the limbic system, is also rewarding and motivating, and music can facilitate aspects of learning and memory. In this review these special characteristics of music are considered in light of recent research on the neuroscience of the peptide oxytocin, a hormone that has both peripheral and central actions, that plays a role in many complex human behaviors, and whose expression has recently been reported to be affected by music-related activities. I will first briefly discuss what is currently known about the peptide’s physiological actions on neurons and its interactions with other neuromodulator systems, then summarize recent advances in our knowledge of the distribution of oxytocin and its receptor (OXTR) in the human brain. Next, the complex links between oxytocin and various social behaviors in humans are considered. First, how endogenous oxytocin levels relate to individual personality traits, and then how exogenous, intranasal application of oxytocin affects behaviors such as trust, empathy, reciprocity, group conformity, anxiety, and overall social decision making under different environmental conditions. It is argued that many of these characteristics of oxytocin biology closely mirror the diverse effects that music has on human cognition and emotion, providing a link to the important role music has played throughout human evolutionary history and helping to explain why music remains a special prosocial human asset. Finally, it is suggested that there is a potential synergy in combining oxytocin- and music-based strategies to improve general health and aid in the treatment of various neurological dysfunctions.
... Research into singing has shown widespread beneficial effects on health and well-being Gunter, 2004;Williams et al., 2018), and could be described as a salutogenetic activity (Antonovsky, 1996). As the topic of singing and well-being has attracted increased attention since the late 1990s, a number of literature reviews have appeared to critique and synthesise existing evidence (Clift et al., 2016). ...
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The current standards of care of the older person recommend employing non-pharmacological approaches to challenges, including safe approaches to managing pain and stress, enhancing symptom relief, and fostering independent lifestyles with the highest quality of life possible. More research is needed to enable nurses and other medical staff to use singing and music-based interventions, to access singing-based programmes, and promote a greater use of choirs in nursing homes. A solid basis of positive experiences and feedback through evidence in practice is required to help promote support for such activities.
Article
Supporting the wellbeing of young people is a growing issue internationally. Reviews of adult studies suggest the potential of group singing to meet this agenda. This review aimed to examine current evidence regarding the effects of group singing on the wellbeing and psychosocial outcomes of children and young people. A systematic integrative review of electronic databases, including primary research studies which examined wellbeing or psychosocial outcomes for children and young people involved in group singing, yielded thirteen studies. Conclusions about the effectiveness of group singing could not be drawn from quantitative studies, which were of low quality. Qualitative synthesis indicates group singing may support young people’s wellbeing through mechanisms of ‘social connectedness’ and confidence. Current conclusions are limited and additional, high quality qualitative and quantitative research is required to build on these findings. Further careful study may support the development and funding of group singing projects.
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Background: Parkinson's disease (PD) frequently causes progressive deterioration in speech, voice and cognitive aspects of communication. These affect wellbeing and quality of life and are associated with caregiver strain and burden. Therapeutic singing groups can ameliorate PD-related communication disorders and increase social interaction and wellbeing for caregivers and care recipients. Objective: To analyse the effects of ParkinSong group singing sessions on Parkinson's communication and wellbeing outcomes for people with PD and caregivers over 12 months. Methods: A 4-armed controlled clinical trial compared ParkinSong with active non-singing control conditions over 12 months. Two dosage levels (weekly versus monthly) were available for each condition. ParkinSong comprised high-effort vocal, respiratory and speech exercises, group singing, and social interaction. PD-specific outcomes included vocal loudness, speech intelligibility, maximum phonation time, respiratory muscle strength, and voice related quality of life (QoL). Wellbeing outcomes were also measured for caregivers and care recipients. Results: We recruited 75 people with PD and 44 caregivers who attended weekly ParkinSong, monthly ParkinSong, weekly control or monthly control groups. We found significant improvements in the primary outcome of vocal loudness (p = 0.032), with weekly singers 5.13 dB louder (p = 0.044) and monthly singers 5.69 dB louder (p = 0.015) than monthly controls at 12 months. ParkinSong participants also showed greater improvements in voice-related QoL and anxiety. Caregivers who attended ParkinSong showed greater reductions in depression and stress scores. Conclusions: This 12-month controlled clinical trial of ParkinSong demonstrated improvements in speech loudness and voice-related QoL for participants with PD, and enhanced wellbeing for both caregivers and care recipients. No adverse effects were reported over 12 months and improvements were sustained.
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This article reviews research showing that music can alter peoples' moods and emotions. The so called “musical mood induction procedure” (MMIP) relies on music to produce changes in experienced affective processes. The fact that music can have this effect on subjective experience has been utilized to study the effect of mood on cognitive processes and behavior by a large number of researchers in social, clinical, and personality psychology. This extensive body of literature, while little known among music psychologists, is likely to further help music psychologists understand affective responses to music. With this in mind, the present article aims at providing an extensive review of the methodology behind a number of studies using the MMIP. The effectiveness of music as a mood-inducing stimulus is discussed in terms of self-reports, physiological, and behavioral indices. The discussion focuses on how findings from the MMIP literature may extend into current research and debate on the complex interplay of music and emotional responses.
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All music origin theories are concerned with the purpose and effects of music, a subject first systematically broached by Plato who felt that music's primary use was for aggression, defence, persuasion and social harmony. In Cratylus Plato provided an epistemological foundation for later theorists by arguing for a natural correspondence between sound and meaning, opposing the view that names and sounds were arbitrary. One important group of musical origin theories developed this viewpoint, asserting that music evolved as a result of spontaneous emotional outbursts, a form of self expression and communication. Darwin heads a second adaptationist direction, maintaining that music evolved to enhance organisms' sexual attraction, thus increasing their ability to procreate. A third theoretical school asserts that music originated because of organisms' innate rhythmic sense. Other phylogenetic and functional ways of grouping music origin theories are also examined.
Chapter
This chapter examines results of a workshop held to discuss experiments conducted to study secretary immunoglobulins. The secretory workshop focused mainly on two general aspects of the secretory immune system: (1) the structure and immunology of IgA, both serum and secretory; and (2) the biological properties of IgA. The first part of the workshop discussed the structure of the IgA molecule. Much of the discussion centered about the discovery in secretory IgA molecules of a fourth type of polypeptide chain. It was shown that the secretory component has now been identified in several other species including the cow, sheep, goat, horse, and dog. Free secretory component, either human or bovine, binds in vitro to polymeric IgA or IgG. The observation that secretory component binds in vitro only to polymeric molecules such as IgA and IgM, raised considerable discussion concerning the possibility that J chain might play a role in binding.
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A German adaptation of the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS) is presented, the factorial structure as well as the internal consistency are analyzed and external associations are described. A principal component analysis of state affect (N=349; instruction: "How do you feel at the moment") and trait affect(N=480; instruction: .,... In general") resulted in a distinct two-factor solution labeled "Positive Affectivity" (PA) and "Negative Affectivity" (NA). Applying four additional time-oriented instructions ("How did you feel today - during the past few days - weeks - the past yea"), an internal validation study indicated that as time intervals increase, the influence of the state affect decreases, whereas that of the trait affect increases. Trait PA and NA furthermore yielded differential associations with global personality traits and variables within the areas of anxiety, reporting of symptoms, and emotions, as well as stress management.
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In a naturalistic pre-post design, samples of saliva were collected from the members of a professional chorale during an early rehearsal (n = 31), a late rehearsal (n = 34) and a public performance (n = 32) of Beethoven's Missa Solemnis. As measures of immune system response, mean levels of secretory immunoglobulin A increased significantly, as a proportion of whole protein, 150% during rehearsals and 240% during the performance. Cortisol concentrations decreased significantly an average of 30% during rehearsals and increased 37% during performance. As measured through performance perception rating scales, a group of emotions and other experiential states that singers associated with professional singing were highly predictive of changes in level of secretory immunoglobulin A during the performance condition, but the results for the rehearsal conditions were not significant. The best multiple regression model for performance level of immunoglobulin A (p < .0015) included seven emotional, cognitive, and evaluative variables generally associated with choral singing, including levels of mood before and during singing, stress, relaxation, feeling "high," detachment/engagement, and specific satisfaction with the immediate performance.
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In recent studies of the structure of affect, positive and negative affect have consistently emerged as two dominant and relatively independent dimensions. A number of mood scales have been created to measure these factors; however, many existing measures are inadequate, showing low reliability or poor convergent or discriminant validity. To fill the need for reliable and valid Positive Affect and Negative Affect scales that are also brief and easy to administer, we developed two 10-item mood scales that comprise the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS). The scales are shown to be highly internally consistent, largely uncorrelated, and stable at appropriate levels over a 2-month time period. Normative data and factorial and external evidence of convergent and discriminant validity for the scales are also presented. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2010 APA, all rights reserved)