Research published online this month in the scientific journal Psychology of Music has found those singing in a choir report a positive impact on their psychological health.
“Singing in a choir is a leisure occupation performed by millions of people in different cultures which requires a collaborative action,” Ahmet Muhip Sanal and Selahattin Gorsev of the Abant Izzet Baysal University in Turkey explained in their study.
“Like other leisure occupations, singing in a choir has been reported to promote human health and well-being. However, the effects of music on human psychological, physiological, social, intellectual and physical processes still remain to be explored.”
The study of 70 college students discovered that choir rehearsal was associated with reduced anxiety and decreased negative moods in those who participated. However, a salivary amylase test failed to find the physiological indicators of stress reduction. Stress has been shown to increase levels of salivary amylase, an enzyme that breaks down starch.
For their study, Sanal and Gorsev split the college students into two groups. For 8 weeks, one group participated in a one-hour choir rehearsal each week, while the other group participated in an hour of free time each week. The students, who were all enrolled in choir courses, were tested before and after the sessions.
“Our findings suggested that singing in a choir had a significant impact on decreasing the negative affect and state anxiety levels of the singers,” the researchers concluded. “Salivary amylase levels showed a tendency to decrease in the singers, but not significantly.”
“Future research should examine the long-term effects of choir singing, and compare the effects of group singing with non-singing control group. Also the social aspects of group singing versus other social activities such as craft or drama groups would require further studies.”