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RCM, Imperial College and UCL researchers shed light on music’s role in supporting mental wellbeing

Monday 17 August 2020

New research led by the Centre for Performance Science (CPS) has used data collected from over 2,000 people all over the world to discover the specific ways in which music-making supports positive mental wellbeing.

The study combined the accounts of at least 2,164 people from a range of backgrounds and countries to find that music-making supports people in four main ways: by allowing people to manage and express emotions; facilitating self-development through learning specific skills; providing respite and safe spaces; and facilitating connections to other people and heritage.

Researchers from the Royal College of Music, Imperial College and UCL drew on data from 46 previous studies to uncover the processes through which music supports wellbeing, using a meta-ethnography approach that generated new interpretations of data through synthesis of existing studies. The large-scale study is the first of its kind and its findings will inform research directions within the field of music and mental health, providing the basis for future studies and informing the development and delivery of future arts interventions to support mental wellbeing.

Dr Rosie Perkins, lead author on the research, comments: ‘This is the first study we know of to take this approach to investigate how music-making supports positive mental wellbeing. Our findings are particularly pertinent given the Covid-19 pandemic, which has affected people all over the globe and which is now threatening the arts and live music industry, upon which so many of us rely for more than simply entertainment.’

This study was undertaken as part of the £1million AHRC-funded HEartS project, which investigates the Health, Economic and Social Impact of the ARTs. Launched in 2017, HEartS is currently exploring the impact of arts and culture on health and wellbeing from individual, social, and economic perspectives, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

You can read the full research article, published by SAGE, by clicking here. To find out more about the Centre for Performance Science partnership between the Royal College of Music and Imperial College, London, click here.