The research, undertaken by London’s Royal College of Music, will help further investigations into the relationship between music and health


A study by the Royal College of Music’s Centre for Performance Science has proved for the first time that listening to and performing music has ‘a positive, biological effect on mood and stress levels’. The research was carried out by volunteers at a London concert of music by Eric Whitacre in March 2015.

Fifteen singers and 49 audience members - ranging from experienced musicians to classical music novices - submitted saliva samples, wore ECG monitors and completed a questionnaire.

The results demonstrated a decrease in levels of stress hormones cortisol and cortisone in audience members. The singers also experienced a reduction in stress hormones during the rehearsal, though levels raised during the performance.

Aaron Williamon, professor of Performance Science at the Royal College of Music, said:

‘This is the first time participation in a cultural event has been shown to have significant psychobiological effects, and the implications are hugely exciting, particularly when taking into account previous research by the Centre for Performance Science which links reduction in stress hormone activity with increases in immune function. This preliminary study provides several new avenues of further investigation of how making and experiencing music can impact on health and well-being.’

Subscribe to The Strad or download our digital edition as part of a 30-day free trial. To purchase single issues click here.