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Critical Reflections on Twenty Years of Research Exploring the Health and Wellbeing Benefits of Group Singing


Stephen Clift (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) and Vivian Ellis (Canterbury, UK)

Stephen Clift and Grenville Hancox (2001) conducted one of the first research projects on singing wellbeing and health just over twenty years ago. Since that time there has been a considerable increase in research activity internationally exploring the potential health benefits of active engagement in group singing. Google Scholar, for example, shows that the Clift and Hancox paper has been cited by 465 subsequent publications (September 2021).  Research on singing and health has also generated at least 15 systematic reviews, Cochrane reviews and meta-analyses. What have we learned from this research effort? How reliable or otherwise is the existing body of research evidence? And what difference has research made in promoting singing as a health-promoting activity in practice?  These questions will be explored, taking as a starting point, findings reported by Clift and Hancox in their early research in 2001, and the extent to which their work has been built upon or extended in subsequent research. Attention will also be given to the quality and usefulness of systematic reviews in relation to promoting further developments in research and in practice.  Examples of problematic practice in reviewing will be given in making a case for ‘robust critique’ of research and reviews in arts and health (Clift, 2020; Clift, Phillips, and Pritchard, 2021).

Stephen Clift is Emeritus Professor for the Sidney De Haan Research Centre for Arts and Health. He has worked in the field of health promotion and public health for over twenty-five years, and has made contributions to research, practice and training on HIV/AIDS prevention, sex education, international travel and health and the health promoting school.

Vivian Ellis is a Grammy-nominated singer, community choir leader, music researcher & trainer who uses the power of singing to connect, support wellbeing & feed the imagination. She leads two weekly choirs for wellbeing, ‘The Dragon Cafe Singers’, and ‘Singing for the Soul’. She is a folk and early music specialist who develops new models of public engagement with singing and social history, such as ballad walks.

20th January 2022, 18:00–19:00 | Free participation | No registration required


Further information:

Stephen Clift

Photo: Stephen Clift | © Lynda Clift