New study: Choral singing is ‘healthier than solo’

New study: Choral singing is ‘healthier than solo’


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2016

An Oxford study on ‘The psychological benefits of singing in a choir’ finds the following:

1 Choral singers report ‘significantly higher levels of well-being than solo singers.’

2 Choral singers ‘experience a greater sense of being part of a meaningful, or ‘real’ group, than team sports players.’


welsh national opera chorus


  • Eddie Mars says:

    [[ An Oxford Study… ]]

    Oh clap your hands together, all ye people… and trouble yourselves no further with this ‘study’ :))

  • Peter Phillips says:

    Why the sarcasm? The article appears in a respected, peer reviewed journal with significant impact. It is written by two researchers from unimpeachable study bases. The subject matter is appropriate to SD, especially to those of us who are both researchers and choral singers.

    • Eddie Mars says:

      A university finds in favour of the system of choral scholars that keep its own choral chapels open?

      Hardly a disinterested study, was it? And apparently singing in chapel choirs is more healthy than sports teams… by what kind of apples-and-oranges criteria was that established, hmm?

      • Peter Phillips says:

        Oxford Brookes University, the base of one of the authors, is not to be confused with the University of Oxford. It has no ivy covered buildings, no chapel and no choral scholars. It does, though, have a lively, practically orientated music department. All credit to them for that when other universities are closing down their more traditional music departments. The other author is based in Oxford NHS trust and I think it’s safe to say that they have no choral tradition. In any case, and I’m guessing here, I would think that the study has more to do with local choral societies than ancient college choral foundations. Without seeing the research design and instruments I can’t say much more. Oh, and I’m not the famous choral conductor of the same name!

        • Eddie Mars says:

          Okey Peter, I admit I was rather harsh there :))

          I presume you are similarly not the ghost of the Jacobean-era recusant Catholic composer either :))

          • Peter Phillips says:

            Nothing much ghost-like about me! If I were, though, my best days would certainly be behind me. Didn’t he spell it with one L rather than two? Not that orthography meant much then :))

  • H Boyle says:

    No big mystery here –

    1. there is simply a lot less pressure than singing solo – anyone who has done both can tell you that.

    2. The fact of singing harmony parts makes the collaborative element more obvious than always taking the lead, and there is a clearly defined outcome compared with the chance nature of sport with its lead positions and the MVP concepts.

  • stanley cohen says:

    It remains a well understood and accepted fact that the self-same chorister who would freeze if asked to sing solo, will sing their hearts out when singing with the rest of the choir. This peculiarly English quality is what sets English choirs apart from those of every other nation. Though many of us have also enjoyed separate lives as soloists the vast majority thrive in choirs alone.

  • Jane says:

    It depends on how you see it. I like singing in the choir, but I also love singing solo. You may feel a bit isolated if you sing solo all the time. You need a variety, but of course singing a solo means you know a piece perfectly.

    • stanley cohen says:

      Essentially, Jane, there are those who will never sing solo but are superb choristers and then there’s us.