Singing lessons as a path to well-being in later life

Psychol Music. 2022 May;50(3):911-932. doi: 10.1177/03057356211030992. Epub 2021 Sep 3.


Seventy-two persons, who had begun voice lessons after 40 years of age, were invited to complete an online survey that focused on the singers' experience, motivation, goals, health and well-being, repertoire, practice, and demographic information; 48 respondents (33 females, mean age 60.81 years, range 48.83-82.08, SD = 6.99) completed the questionnaire. Most participants indicated that enjoyment and personal growth motivated their taking lessons. Over 90% commented on benefits of singing to their physical health (e.g., breathing) and mental health (e.g., mood, less depressive episodes). Despite the solitary aspect of singing lessons, 67% reported positive changes in social relations since taking lessons. Benefits to professional relations were also reported (e.g., confidence, listening to others). Repertoire level was generally high, consistent with a high average university educational level. Cost of lessons and time demands may account for the generally high socioeconomic status of respondents. Given that the singing voice is a musical instrument available to almost everyone, results might motivate older adults to consider taking voice lessons, encourage health care professionals to consider voice lessons as interventions to benefit clients, and persuade governments to subsidize voice lessons for older adults in their jurisdictions. The study provides a foundation for future research on the relative impacts on well-being of vocal lessons versus choral singing in the context of relative investments in the two activities.

Keywords: mental health; older adults; physical health; singing; well-being.