Proved: singing is relaxing

Classical music marketeers need worry no more. The Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science has worked on a study that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that attending a live classical music concert physically reduces stress. So too, it seems, singing.

The study was carried out by composer and conductor Eric Whitacre who worked with 15 singers and 49 audience members – some seasoned concert-goers and musicians and some classical music novices. All submitted saliva samples, wore ECG monitors and completed a questionnaire.

The findings revealed that audience members experienced decreases in levels of stress hormones cortisol and cortisone. Singing also reduced stress hormones in the body and relaxed performers in rehearsal. Stress levels increased during performance.

Specifically, the study concluded:

:: Watching a concert also led to decreases in negative mood states (afraid, tense, confused, sad, anxious and stressed) and increases in positive mood states (relaxed and connected)

:: Singing in a low-stress rehearsal reduced levels of stress hormones (cortisol and cortisone) and didn’t affect psychological anxiety, but singing in a high-stress concert increased stress hormone levels and psychological anxiety

:: The overall act of singing reduced the cortisol-cortisone ratio, suggesting that singing has an inherently relaxing effect regardless of how stressed people feel

There’s a chance to see the study conducted again at a concert of music by Eric Whitacre at Cheltenham Festival on 7 July. There’s also a talk discussing the findings of both studies on 11 July called ‘Is singing Good for you?’

Book tickets at

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