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More than Singing

We’re incredibly proud of our Sing with Us choirs, which every week support thousands of people affected by cancer through the power of song.

Since setting up our first choir in 2010, we’ve wanted to find out more about the benefits of singing for people affected by cancer. Our choir members have always told us that singing and being a member of the choir makes them feel better, but we wanted to understand the science behind it.

Our previous research has looked at qualitative, quantitative and biological data, but we wanted to know more about the biology behind what people were telling us, and build on our previous research study which looked at biomarkers (More than Singing – Part 1).

In 2016 we funded Dr Daisy Fancourt, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care, to carry out a new research project. This project (More than Singing – Part 2) was conducted in partnership between the Royal Marsden Hospital, Imperial College London and the Royal College of Music, and recruited people to take part in two new choirs in London, as well as a non-singing group set up for comparison.

We were particularly interested in seeing what benefit singing in a choir had over a six-month period, on mental health and wellbeing.

One of the main findings focussed on carers. We found that over 24 weeks they had significant reductions in their levels of anxiety, especially when compared with the non-singing (control) group. Alongside that we also saw an improvement in their levels of wellbeing.

We also found that singing and being part of the choirs particularly helped people that had low levels of mental health and wellbeing at the start of the study. In other words, the people who needed to benefit the most, did.

The research also involved people who had been recently bereaved to try to understand what, if any, benefits singing in a choir could bring and why this occurred. The results showed people who sang in the choir benefitted from more consistent levels of mental health when compared to the group who did no singing.

People who did not take part in the choirs had an increase in their levels of depression throughout the study, alongside more volatile levels of wellbeing. We found choirs provided a consistency of mental health.

Dr Daisy Fancourt said: “Tenovus Cancer Care choirs helped to give people new skills and a sense of pride. This then seems to transfer into the other aspects of their lives and seems to be one of the drivers of the improvements in their mental health.

“As a researcher it’s been a really wonderful project to work on, and to see the huge amount of energy involved in these choirs. Often when you hear about the choirs it’s difficult to picture what it’s actually like to take part, but having seen the infectious enthusiasm there’s something very special here for people affected by cancer.”

This study builds on our previous research showing the mental health benefits of singing for people with cancer, carers and the bereaved and the addition of a controlled, non-singing, group showed these improvements are not expected to occur naturally over time.

Get in touch

If you have any questions or would like to find out more about our research please contact our team on research@tenovuscancercare.org.uk or call 029 2076 8850.

Join a choir

Sing with Us choirs

Our Sing with Us choirs are for anyone affected by cancer. They offer support, friendship and fun, and our ground-breaking research has shown singing is good for you too.

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Our choirs are fun and friendly

Join a choir

If you think you might be interested in singing with us or just want to find out more, please register your interest either via the online form, or by calling our free Support Line on 0808 808 1010 (open 365 days a year).

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Our choirs perform out in the community

Book a choir

We have 16 choirs in Wales and 2 in London and we love performing and sharing our sound. We’ve sung at conferences, dinners, festivals and fetes across the country. If you’d like one of our choirs to perform at your event, simply fill in the online form and we’ll get in touch.

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