This research was conducted by Gunter Kreutz, Stephan Bongard, Sonja Rohrmann, Volker Hodapp and Dorothee Grebe at Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main, Germany (now at the University of Oldenburg, Germany). The research compared the levels of immunoglobulin A (S-IgA), cortisol and emotional states of people after they had participated in a choir practice with when they had simply listened to choral music.
The research found that (compared to listening) those engaged in group singing increased their positive mood and levels of S-IgA. Since depletion of S-IgA is associated with tiring and stressful states, and S-IgA is crucial ‘as the body’s first line of defence against bacterial and viral infections of the upper respiratory pathway’ this means that if music enhances S-IgA levels then it could be an important means of relieving stress and improving health.
A team led by Professor Suzanne Purdy at the University of Auckland’s Centre for Brain Research is researching the value of its CeleBRation Choir for people who have communication problems through brain disease. The members of the Choir are people who live with the effects of stroke, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, along with other neurological conditions. People with these conditions may have problems speaking but find they can still sing.
A study focusing on people with Parkinson’s Disease says that: a) musical rhythm in group singing may enhance quality of life, and rehabilitation b) singing produces two socio-psychological states – connectedness and flow – that may yield these health benefits c) the best results are likely to come from familiar music with melodic distinctiveness and a regular beat.