A new scientific study based on research by the Royal College of Music's Centre for Performance Science has proven what singers and those who regularly attend classical music concerts have long known: that classical music physically reduces stress.
The research was compiled from saliva samples, ECG monitor readings and questionnaires gathered from 15 singers and 49 audience members at a concert given by Eric Whitacre and his Singers at London's Union Chapel in March 2015. It has been shown that the audience members experienced a reduction in levels of the stress hormones cortisol and cortisone.
For the singers, the same reduction in stress hormones occurred during rehearsal but there was (predictably) an increase in both stress hormones during the performance itself.
'This is the first time participation in a cultural event has been shown to have significant psychobiological effects'
Aaron Williamon, Professor of Performance Science at 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 wellbeing.'
Summary of psychobiological results was as follows:
Eric Whitacre recently spoke at the Oxford Union about music and his career so far. You can watch his full address below: