Music making and wellbeing through the pandemic

Ongoing research published in the Journal of Music, Health, and Wellbeing continues to provide strong evidence of the pandemic's huge impact on music makers' lives over the past two years.

Our survey conducted a year after Covid first struck highlighted the leisure-time music sector’s mental and physical health concerns across the four UK nations, and this data has been supported by a study from Hongjuan Zhu and Stephanie Pitts in the Journal of Music, Health, and Wellbeing

'I have COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and my lung capacity  has not reduced  in  the  last 10 years. People gain confidence through singing and it’s so  fun!' – leisure-time singer 

‘When the music stops: the effects of lockdown on amateur music groups’, a study published in September 2021, reports on empirical research into musicians' coping strategies during lockdown, including the ways they continued making music and maintained contact with their friendship networks. 

An online survey with 235 complete responses investigated the effects on participants' wellbeing, and the extent to which wellbeing is normally affected by music group participation. The survey asked about their hopes and fears for the resumption of rehearsals after the lifting of social distancing measures, with participants reporting mixed experiences of online rehearsals that had temporarily replaced meeting in person, and the uptake of other leisure-time activities to fill the gap left by music making. 

'The group experience of learning and performing is exhilarating. Friendships form from shared experiences like this, and we socialise as a group who 'get' each other.' – leisure-time instrumentalist 

These findings shed new light on the value amateur musicians place on shared rehearsals and performances, and offer ways forward for reframing musical participation after lockdown. While the benefits of music as a meaningful leisure activity, combining the fun involved in working towards a shared musical goal with a sense of community belonging, are well known to many, the study’s findings also showed the huge impact of lockdown on groups. The long pause in activity reinforced the importance of music making to many members, whose desire to resume rehearsals and performances was crucial to the survival of their group - and to communicating their value to funders, new members and audiences.

'Reading music and cooperating with other members and sections helps to keep the brain active and the concentration required means that worries and niggles, both physical and mental, can be temporarily forgotten.' – leisure-time choir member of more than 60 years 

Read the full study on the Music, Health, and Wellbeing website

Browse the rest of the journal, featuring more studies on music making through the pandemic